A US environmental group has singled out apples as the worst offender among produce sold in the US when it comes to the amount of pesticides it carries.
In their seventh edition of the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, the Washington DC-based Environmental Working Group ranked 53 fruits and vegetables -- sold in the US and grown either domestically or abroad -- according to their pesticide load, highlighting the most pesticide-laden foods in a list dubbed "The Dirty Dozen" and those that are lowest the "Clean15."
The list was released Monday.
After coming up with a composite score based on information gleaned from the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, analysts ranked the apple as the most contaminated produce. Most of the samples were washes and peeled prior to being tested, in order to represent food as it's eaten.
The apple jumped three spots from last year to knock celery out of the top spot.
Also notable in this year's ranking was cilantro, which made the guide for the first time as it had never been tested by the USDA until now, the group says.
Data showed 33 unapproved pesticides on 44 percent of samples tested -- the highest percentage of unapproved pesticides recorded since the group started tracking data in 1995.
The top five most contaminated items on the list included apples, celery, strawberries, peaches and spinach.
On the Clean15 list -- foods with the lowest pesticides -- were onions, corn, pineapple, avocado and asparagus.
To download the shopper's pocket guide, visit http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/.
The Dirty Dozen, in most offending order:
Sweet bell peppers
Clean15 (lowest in pesticides)