Baby carrots the latest food to suffer from “myth-information”

Likely you’ve received the email that’s been circulating recently about baby carrots and chlorine. I’ve reprinted the one I received below. Before you read it, please remember that, unfortunately, not everything you read is 100% accurate – including the email text that follows:

Did you know that the small baby carrots you buy in small plastic bags are made using large crooked or deformed carrots which are put through a machine that cuts and shapes them into baby carrots?

And, did you also know that once the carrots are cut and shaped, they are dipped in a solution of water and chlorine (the same chlorine used in swimming pools) in order to preserve them since, once peeled, they don’t have their skin or natural protective covering?

If you keep these carrots in your refrigerator for a few days, a white covering will form on the carrots. This is the chlorine which resurfaces.

At what cost do we put our health at risk to have aesthetically pleasing vegetables which are practically plastic?

if you care about your family and friends, please pass this information on to them to let them know where baby carrots come from and how they are processed. Chlorine is a well known carcinogen.

If you like to munch on baby carrots and you’ve wondered about the validity of the information in this email, consider these facts.

Yes, baby carrots may indeed be formed by a machine. They may also be carrots grown and harvested at a small size.

And yes, they are dipped in a diluted solution of chlorine and water. This is an ACCEPTABLE PRACTICE done to ensure the water the carrots are washed in remains sanitary, and to prevent the growth of spoilage microorganisms on the carrots. There is no evidence that the amount of chlorine used is harmful.

The white discolouration that sometimes forms on carrots is NOT chlorine residue. If it was chlorine, you would be able to smell and taste it.

The white discolouration is a result of moisture loss from the surface of the carrots. This will naturally occur on the surface of any peeled carrot as it dries.

Chlorine is not harmful if used appropriately. Our drinking water contains chlorine. Chlorine is often used to sanitize dishes, cutting boards and cooking surfaces.

For additional information about baby carrots and chlorine, please check the following sources:

* – This web site is a great place to visit if you hear a claim (food-related or otherwise) you’re not sure about. The site is well known for its debunking of false claims, including the one about baby carrots and chlorine.

* Joe Schwarcz’s article about baby carrots written for the Montreal Gazette in April. Schwarcz is the director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society.

4 thoughts on “Baby carrots the latest food to suffer from “myth-information”

  1. I know the levels of chlorine used in this application are acceptable and deemed safe, but why not just peel a nice fresh carrot and eat it before it oxidizes and changes colour?

    When I bought these tumbled carrots I found we ate carrots in general since the flavour was just not as good as when I start with a fresh one. For my family at least, the added convenience didn’t add up to more consumption.

  2. Good point, Dana. We’ve grown so accustomed to ultra convenience when it comes to the food we eat. It’s not that difficult to peel and cut up carrots as you need them. Or prepare a few ahead and keep them in the fridge for those days when you want to ‘grab-and-go’.

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