The Tricky Ten | Are You Eating & Drinking Pesticide Cocktails?

10 Foods To Better Eat Organically

If you don’t eat organically already, at least opt for the ‘clean’ version of these food items. On average they have the highest dose of endocrine disrupting pesticide residues, throwing off your hormone balance increasing the risk of adverse health effects. This is the outcome of an analysis made by PAN-Europe (Pesticide Action Network) based on the monitoring data of Food Authority EFSA.


Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) are active substances which alter and disrupt the hormone system of the human body. The hormone system is responsible for the good development and functioning of all vital organs.

A large body of scientific evidence has linked EDCs to chronic diseases, such as decreased fertility, hormone-related cancers (breast cancer and prostate cancer), brain damage, obesitas, diabetes [1]. Worryingly, these diseases are on the rise all over Europe. A large body of evidence has also warned about the high vulnerability of the unborn and the young children to EDCs, with exposure during key development stages leading to long-term damage like a loss of motility, memory or concentration troubles [2].

Already at a very low dose, EDC effects can be observed [3], which is why there is no such thing as a “safe” level of exposure. While some progress has been made regarding removing endocrine disruptors from cosmetics, baby bottles or toys, the dangers of EDCs in food items remain surprisingly disregarded, explains PAN-Europe.


Residues from up to 30 different ED pesticides were found in the everyday food of European consumers. In several food items such as peppers, complex chemical ‘mixtures’ of more than 20 different ED pesticides were analysed in European countries. EDCs are all the more dangerous when acting together at the same time because their effects can “add up” (= “cocktail” effects) [2]. Lettuces showed to have the highest level of EDCs, closely followed by tomatoes, cucumbers, apples and leeks.


PAN Europe has set up a list of the ten most disrupting food items. Lettuce presents an average amount of ED (Endocrine Disrupting) pesticides found of 1300 microgrammes per kilogramm which represents 40 times more than the amount in one contraceptive pill. Peppers contains up to 23 potential different ED pesticides.
The Tricky Ten



1. Know “The Tricky Ten”

If you do not consume organic products only, set priorities: Avoid eating non-organic food items with highest risk pesticide residues such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and apples. Substitute them: choose spinach over lettuce, carrots over tomatoes, etcetera.

2. Choose organic if possible

Organic production is completely free of synthetic pesticides. Food items are grown according to very strict set of rules which guarantee that harmful chemicals are not used. PAN Europe therefore strongly encourages consumers to eat organic to the highest extent possible, especially pregnant women and children.

3. Never eat the peel of citrus fruits

Make sure that small children do not put unpealed citrus fruits into their mouth: they could encounter high amounts of EDCs on the shell surface of these fruit.

4. Peel your fruits & veggies

Peeling reduces the pesticide load of conventional fruits and vegetables. Appart from systemic pesticides that go through the skin and flesh of food items or plants, pesticides residues are indeed mostly concentrated in the skin of the products.

5. Always wash your food

Washing your products is always a good habit to keep in mind.

[1] Prof. Kortenkamp, appointed by the European Union : « State-of-the-art assessment fo endocrine disruptors », 2012.
[2] Statement of the Endocrine Society (Endocrine reviews, June 2009), supported in 2011 (Science 331:1136) by 8 other societies representing 40.000 scientists.
[3] For studies on EDCs low dose effects, see : Vandenberg/Soto/Heindel/VomSaal ao. (Endocrine Reviews, June 2012)
PAN Europe Info
Disrupting Food Info

Photo Credit © Shutterstock


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *