Grapes, oranges and dried fruits, such as sultanas and raisins, were found to be the worst offenders with more than 80 percent of each containing residue of more than one pesticide. Herbs, pears, peas, beans, lettuce, okra, carrots and mangos are also named in the report released today.
Of all the chemicals found in the “dirty dozen”, 72 are classified as Highly Hazardous Pesticides, a term used by the UN to identify substances most harmful to health or the environment.
They have links to cancer, fertility problems and birth defects.
The Pesticide Action Network revealed 25 chemicals were found in just one kilogram of sultanas.
Spokesman Nick Mole said: “These figures highlight the wide array of chemicals we are exposed to through our diets.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “All food sold in the UK must meet strict rules on pesticide residue to ensure it is safe to eat.
“We continue to encourage a move away from chemical pest control, and recently consulted on a national action plan to minimise the impacts of pesticides.”
Better fit for genes
Rule changes to make it easier to research and develop “gene-edited” food crops such as sugar beet have been unveiled.
Gene editing changes traits within a plant species or animal more quickly and precisely than traditional selective breeding, used for centuries to create stronger crops and livestock.
The Government said it would help breed crops more nutritious or resistant to pests and disease.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “It is a tool that could help tackle some of the biggest challenges that we face.”