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Don't Eat Baby Carrots?! Chlorine and White Blushing.

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Bright perfectly shiny apples are not naturally so appealing, but they are coated in spot-sealing wax. And now those bright perky never-seem-to-dull orange baby carrots are not what they seem. Click ahead to find out why this baby carrot addict just may be halting her baby carrot habit...

Baby Carrot White Blush.
A fresh picked carrot will naturally whiten with air exposure and age. A picked apple will dull and spot and wilt. A picked banana will spot brown and turn soft. These are all natural aging processes of fruits and veggies. But it seems that the 'baby carrot people' who manufacture, grow and sell baby carrots have found a way to halt the aging process of carrots. They successfully stall the 'white blushing' of carrots by....rinsing them in chlorine. Yup. Cue the gasps and boos from the vegans, organics and veggie lovers everywhere.

Is it true? This was my first question. And yes it is. Organic carrot growers have the same problem with carrots, but they use a citrus based rinse called Citrox. However, the amount used for the carrots is very small. Here is a statement fro a industry insider:

"I work for a company that sells organic carrots, and while we do put all of the products through a chlorine-water wash, the amount of chlorine is under .04% and it is done as a food safety precaution and not a way to make the carrots last longer."-Liz

Chlorine everywhere. So yes baby carrot bleach scared me But then I started thinking about all the ways chlorine is used. In swimming pools, in our drinking water and to disinfect surfaces and supplies at restaurants. Sigh. What to do right? Since this chlorine carrots process has been approved to be 'safe' you really have to make the decision yourself. Quite frankly, I am more frustrated about the fact that this chlorine process is so hidden by the naturally branded carrot companies. I went to three baby carrot websites, an there was nothing on the chlorine process. If it is so safe, why don't they talk about it and practice full disclosure?

Carrots and other Produce.
I've been reading up. And it seems that baby carrots are not the only produce items to be bleach dipped. Again, another reason to eat organic and think about growing your own produce if yard space allows.

Further Reading. So again, you have to decide for yourself. Here are a few more resources. As for me, a total baby carrot addict (I eat 1/2-1 bags every day with dinner or snacks), I will be holding back on the baby carrots. We'll see if this new knowledge brings leaves a bad taste in my mouth...

Resources:

The Origin and Evolution of Baby Carrots. Awesome page detailing anything you'd want to know about baby carrots.
Bad Bad Baby Carrots. Recent post on the topic.
Baby Carrots and Bleach. A good blog post on the topic.
Baby Carrots Soaked in Chlorine. A good forum discussing the topic.
Carrots and Bleach: Yum Yum.
A great blog post in response to this news.

And here is the official statement of the process that baby carrots go through:

"To date, white blush has been controlled primarily by washing freshly processed carrots with chilled water, usually in a hydro cooler, followed by refrigeration and/or by packaging of the freshly processed carrots in specialized containers, including some that maintain modified atmospheres within the containers. Chlorine has also been added to the chilled water treatments for sanitation purposes, and primarily to control microbial bacteria growth on the processed carrots. However, depending upon the above variables, the onset of white blush may only be delayed for a few days. Therefore baby carrots tend to have a shorter shelf life."

source: The Origin and Evolution of Baby Carrots.


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