The Dirty Dozen: Which Foods To Be Aware Of In 2024

The Dirty Dozen: Which Foods To Be Aware Of In 2024

the dirty dozen 2024

The Dirty Dozen: Which Foods To Be Aware Of In 2024

Are you concerned about pesticide residue in your foods? Do you hope to make informed choices during your weekly food shop? Thanks to Pesticide Action Network (PAN), this organisation has investigated and compiled an up-to-date list of the ‘dirtiest’ fruits and vegetables most likely to contain cocktails of multiple pesticides.

With this information, the best option is to buy organic or pesticide-free as much as possible, though we understand this is not always possible. The list below is to support you in figuring out which produce has multiple residues so that buying organic becomes more affordable.

“The UK government tests roughly 3,000kg of food for pesticide residues each year. Once the results are published, PAN UK analyses this data and makes it accessible to the general public by producing the annual ‘Dirty Dozen’. The Dirty Dozen lists the fruit and vegetables most likely to contain residues of two or more pesticides (known as ‘pesticide cocktails’) to help inform people’s shopping decisions.”

What are pesticides?

In short, pesticides are poisons created to kill living organisms. They are commonly referred to as weed killers, insecticides and fungicides. When food growers cultivate produce on a much larger scale to supply supermarkets, it is much quicker and cost-effective for them to spray these chemicals over crops to ensure their growing season isn’t impacted. Certain fruits and vegetables are also much more attractive to certain pests than others are, meaning a range of produce is more heavily sprayed than others in order to prevent them from being destroyed.

However, in doing so, the risk of pesticides leaking into the foods we eat and inevitably ourselves is incredibly high. We are effectively putting toxins and poisons into our body, despite believing the foods we have chosen to purchase are ‘healthy’ and ‘nutritious’. As PAN UK explains… “Certain groups of people are more susceptible to the effects of pesticides, especially young children and expectant parents. Exposure to certain pesticides at critical stages in development can interfere with organs and their functions, particularly endocrine disrupting chemicals which affect hormone systems and have been associated with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and brain development problems.”

The cocktail effect

The difference in PAN UK’s research into the Dirty Dozen 2024 compared to others, is that they focus on produce with multiple pesticide residues. “This is because the government sets safety limits for just one pesticide at a time, ignoring the growing body of evidence that chemicals can become more harmful when combined (a phenomenon known as the ‘cocktail effect’). This not only ignores the potential risks to human health associated with pesticide mixtures found on one item (an apple, for example) but also those found in one dish (such as a fruit salad) let alone an entire day’s worth of food.”

It’s important to note that PAN UK does not produce a Clean 15 list of goods. They believe the government testing programme is so limited, that they don’t want to give the impression that certain fruits & vegetables are free from pesticide residue and show no potential harm to human health or the environment, when contamination is still likely… especially if hazardous pesticides are sprayed over produce without the chemicals showing up as residue in food. 

Here is PAN-UK’s Dirty Dozen 2024 list, based on the most recent data available from 2022.

We hope this information has been helpful to inform your weekly shopping habits. For more nutritional guidance and support, please take a look at our Events page to view and book onto any of our wellbeing workshops to support you on your journey. We currently have Naturopath, Emmie, at Hummingbird Naturopath hosting monthly nutrition sessions at the Together Against Cancer Wellness Centre. 

PAN UK campaigns for a major reduction in pesticide-related harms to both human health and the environment. This includes making sure that UK farmers have the support they need to reduce their pesticide use and working with supermarkets to tackle pesticide harms linked to their global supply chains. Please click here to view the original data analysis of PAN-UK’s Dirty Dozen 2024.