Whether as a hiking snack or part of a child’s lunch, fruit leather is a product loved for its convenience. But according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG),  fruit leathers can contain high concentrations of pesticides and consumers should choose fruit that is both organic and fresh — not dried.

In 2021 and 2022, EWG commissioned laboratory tests of 37 samples of organic and non-organic fruit leather from 10 brands and 30 samples of dried fruit from 16 brands, including fruit leather from 365 Whole Foods Market, Bear, Bob Snail, Good & Gather, Stretch Island, That’s It and Trader Joe’s.

The high concentrations of pesticides are because agricultural chemicals are sprayed on the fruit from which the fruit leather is made. Different types of fresh fruit vary considerably in the amounts of residue they contain. 

Apples are a common ingredient and the first ingredient listed in many of the different flavors EWG analyzed. Fresh apples typically contain high amounts of pesticide residue, according to EWG’s Shopper’s Guide. 

Dried fruit may be a good alternative to fruit leather for consumers concerned about pesticide residues, according to the report. The group’s testing found that conventional dried cranberries, dates, figs, mangoes and prunes had non-detectable levels of pesticides. The highest levels of pesticides were found on dried strawberries, raisins, cherries and apples.

What testing found
EWG tests found that conventional fruit leather may contain residue from the highest number of pesticides. This was the case with samples from Stretch Island and Bob Snail, which each had at least one sample that contained residues from more than 10 different pesticides.

Samples from That’s It, Stretch Island and Trader Joe’s contained the highest total concentration of pesticides, on average.

EWG advises consumers to choose fresh fruit, especially pineapple, papaya, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, mango and watermelon.

The full report can be found here.

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