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The information contained on this page is provided as general health information and is not intended to substitute as medical advice and direction from your physician or health care provider. Please direct any questions related to your health care provider. In an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency center.

Pesticides on fruits and vegetables

Alternative Names

Fruits and vegetables - pesticide risks


To help protect yourself and your family from pesticides on fruits and vegetables:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before you start preparing food.
  • Discard the outer leaves of leafy vegetables such as lettuce. Rinse and eat the inner part.
  • Rinse produce with cool water for at least 30 seconds.
  • You can buy a produce wash product. Do not wash foods with dish soaps or detergents. These products can leave behind inedible residues.
  • Do not wash produce marked "ready to eat" or "pre-washed".
  • Wash produce even if you do not eat the peels (such as citrus). Otherwise, chemicals or bacteria from the outside of the produce can get to the inside when you cut/peel it.
  • After washing, pat produce dry with a clean towel.
  • Wash produce when you are ready to use it. Washing before storing can degrade the quality of most fruits and vegetables.
  • As an option, you may want to buy and serve organic produce. Organic growers use approved organic pesticides. You may want to consider it for thin-skinned items such as peaches, grapes, strawberries, and nectarines.

To remove harmful bacteria, you must wash both organic and nonorganic fruits and vegetables.


Pesticides and fruit


Landrigan PJ, Forman JA. Chemical pollutants. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 719.

US Food and Drug Administration. Food facts: raw produce. Updated February 2018. Accessed April 17, 2018.