EWG’s 2018 Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen List is Out!

Author: Jillian Foster   Date Posted:21 August 2018 

If you haven’t yet heard of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), they are a US based body that dedicate their time and resources to educating the public on chemicals in our food, products and environment that could be harmful to our health. Each year they release a list of the best fruits and vegetables to eat organic (the dirty dozen) and the ones that you can just buy conventionally grown (the clean fifteen) if you can’t afford to eat fully organic. Here is the list with some details on what they found.


The Dirty Dozen:

  1. Strawberries –1/3 of all conventional strawberry samples contained 10 or more pesticides, whilst one sample had a whopping 22 pesticide residues.
  2. Spinach – 97% of conventional spinach samples contained pesticides, with particularly high levels of a neurotoxic insecticide called permethrin.
  3. Nectarines – Close to 94% of nectarine samples contained two or more pesticides, with one sample containing residues of 15 pesticides.
  4. Apples – 90% of conventional apples had pesticide residues with 80% of apples tested containing diphenylamine, a pesticide banned in Europe.
  5. Grapes – Over 96% of conventional grapes tested positive for pesticide residues, containing an average of 5 types of pesticides.
  6. Peaches – On average they contain four different pesticide residues and more than 99% of conventional peaches contained pesticide residues.
  7. Cherries – 30% of cherry samples contained iprodione, a pesticide not allowed in Europe. On average, 5 pesticides were detected on conventional cherries.
  8. Pears – More than half of conventionally grown pears tested contained 5 or more pesticides. They contained several of these pesticides in relatively high concentrations.
  9. Tomatoes – On average, nearly 4 pesticides were detected on conventionally grown tomato. One sample contained 15 different pesticide and breakdown products.
  10. Celery – More than 95% of conventional celery samples tested positive for pesticides. A maximum of 13 pesticides were detected.
  11. Potatoes – Conventional potatoes had more pesticide residues by weight than any other crop.
  12. Sweet Bell Peppers (capsicum) – Approximately 90% of conventional capsicums sampled contained pesticides. They do contain the least pesticides on the list, however the pesticides used tend to be more toxic to human health.



The Clean Fifteen:

  1. Avocados – Fewer than 1% of conventional avocados tested positive for pesticides and only one pesticide was found on any of the 360 avocados sampled.
  2. Sweet Corn – Less than 2% of sweet corn sampled had any detected pesticide residues, however a small amount of sweet corn is genetically modified so best to buy organic if you wish to avoid GM produce.
  3. Pineapples – 90% of conventionally grown pineapples had no detectable pesticide residues and only 5 different pesticides were found on over 350 samples.
  4. Cabbages – Out of 700 cabbages sampled, only 2 contained more than 1 pesticide with 86% containing none at all.
  5. Onions – Less than 10% of conventional onions contained any pesticide residues and no more than 3 pesticides were found overall.
  6. Sweet Peas Frozen – Only 2 different pesticides were detected in samples with approximately 80% of conventional frozen sweet peas having no detectable pesticide residues.
  7. Papayas – On 80% of conventional papayas no pesticide residues were detected. In nearly 750 samples, no more than 3 different pesticides were found.
  8. Asparagus – 90% of conventional asparagus samples had no pesticides detected with no more than 3 pesticides detected overall.
  9. Mangoes – No pesticide residues were found on 78% percent of mango samples and only 2 types of pesticides were detected at all.
  10. Eggplants – About 75% of conventional eggplants sampled were pesticide free. No more than 3 pesticides were detected on any sample.
  11. Honeydew Melon – About half of the sampled conventionally grown honeydew melons had no pesticide residues. No more than 4 pesticides and breakdown products were found.
  12. Kiwis – 65% of sampled kiwi fruits had no pesticides. 6 different pesticides were found overall.
  13. Rockmelon – Only 10% of rockmelons sampled contained more than 1 pesticide and over 60% were pesticide free.
  14. Cauliflower – Approximately 50% of conventionally grown cauliflower contained no pesticide residues and only 3 types of pesticides were detected at all.
  15. Broccoli – 70% of broccoli samples had no pesticide residues and only 1 in 10 samples contained more than 1 pesticide.


Whilst this list is put together in the U.S., the same applies to Australian produce. Keep this handy guide with you when you’re out shopping for fresh produce to help you make better decisions when reducing your chemical and pesticide exposure.





Written by Jillian Foster

Jillian (BHSc Naturopathy) is a qualified naturopath who believes through a healthy and balanced diet and lifestyle, we have the power to influence our health and the health of future generations. With a passion for herbal medicine, Jillian loves helping people find the right solution for their health needs and educating people on how they can lead a healthy and happy life. 

Jillian enjoys keeping active with her two young children and baking them delicious and healthy treats.

Comments (4)

Perfect List shared

By: on 24 January 2020
A lot of people don’t start eating healthy, especially organically, because of the cost. Do you not know where to start or wonder if organic even matters? but you explained really well.

Healthy Food

By: on 21 July 2019
Growing our own organic pesticide free food is one way to guarantee that we are eating healthy food

How about other greens

By: on 9 November 2018
Thx for the list, so I'm wondering about asian greens, like bok choy, choy sum, and all the many varieties.. Do you know how "clean" they are? And things NOT on the list, like beetroot, parsnip, sweet potato, cucumbers, all kinds of berries, dates, and so on.. Are they clean or what? It's cool to have a list, but it's a very short one :) where do other veges sit in comparison in general do you think? Thank you!

Australian NaturalCare Response
Thanks for your comment Dean. The EWG compile this list to show the produce that contain the most and least chemical pesticides, everything else falls somewhere in between. As a general guide, produce that is in small bunches such as grapes and produce with a high water content such as celery and cucumber, are likely to contain more pesticides. Produce with a thick skin that gets peeled away such as bananas and avocado tend to be far lower in pesticides. All potatoes are known to be high in pesticides and I would also suspect that if strawberries are number one on the dirty list, most berries would also be quite high in pesticides. Unfortunately there isn’t a comprehensive list and the type and amount of pesticides on fruits and vegetables will depend on the type and amount of pests they attract. The aim of the list is to help consumers avoid the worst affected produce and allows them to make the choice to buy them as organically grown if available. If you have the option of farmers markets nearby, it is a great way to talk to the growers and find out how they grow their produce.

EWG's 2018 Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen

7 October 2018
Hi just wondering when you said this is put together in the US , and applies to Australia ,how can it be the same list , Are u testing in US or the food in Australia ?? Would appreciate some clarification please Regards Wendy

Australian NaturalCare Response
Australia has very similar farming practices to the US which is why we apply this list to Australian produce also. The same sort of study has never been conducted in Australia, however the few studies that have been done have produced similar results.

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