It’s no secret that non-organic apples contain pesticides, but new information demonstrates that upwards of 80 percent of them may also contain diphenylamine (DPA), a chemical banned in Europe. DPA, which is regulated as a pesticide, is said to keep produce from turning dark colors while in storage. Although banned overseas, such apples are still found in the United States. In fact, the most common pesticide on conventionally grown U.S. apples is DPA.
In 2012, the European Food Safety Authority, which is responsible for assessing pesticide risk, determined that manufacturers were unable to prove that DPA did not pose human health risks. Furthermore, carcinogens called “nitrosamines” were discovered on DPA-treated fruits. For these reasons, use of DPA on European apples and pears was banned in June of 2012.
Apples top “Dirty Dozen” produce list due to high pesticide load
But, the apples are still rearing their ugly heads in the United States, where USDA tests on raw apples revealed that more than 80 percent of them were treated with DPA. Raw apples and apple products such as applesauce and apple juices have also been shown to contain DPA residue.
It’s no wonder, then, that the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has named the apple as a top food to be wary of in their “2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.” It takes the number one spot in their list of the “Dirty Dozen” conventionally grown foods for highest pesticide load, in a rundown that also includes strawberries, spinach and cherry tomatoes.
EWG senior scientist Sonya Lunder said, “While it is not yet clear that DPA is risky to public health, European Commission officials asked questions that the chemicals’ makers could not answer. The EC officials banned outright any further use of DPA on the apples cultivated in the European Union until they are confident it is safe. Europe’s action should cause American policymakers to take a new look at this chemical.”
Ways to avoid health risks from produce, even if it’s organic
It’s estimated that Americans consume approximately 10 pounds of raw, non-organic apples per person on a yearly basis. To avoid health risks, it’s always best to eat organic foods and remain mindful of news like this that sheds light on produce updates.
It’s also advised to properly clean produce, even organic produce, due to germs that find their way to foods during the shipping and handling process. Produce has areas that can harbor bacteria, like the indentation on the tops of apples or the deep grooves that often run down the length of a carrot, making them ideal spots for dust, cobwebs and germs from unsanitary hands to settle (such as from numerous other consumers who have touched the item beforehand).
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