Skeptical at Work – Baby Carrots

In honor of the move to WordPress, I feel I need a new title.  How about “Skeptic at Work”?  I could make a little roadside construction logo or something?  Yeah… that’d be cool.

Anyway, on with the show. Once again, someone who I don’t know very well says something that smacks of those crazy email scares and I don’t have the heart to tell them they are wrong.  I just met this person… they don’t know how anal I am.  So I keep my mouth shut and look it up later.

Claim:  Baby carrots turn white over time because they are treated with so much dangerous chlorine that it eventually resurfaces after being absorbed into the carrot.

Results:  False (mostly)

After about 30 seconds I found a number of websites debunking this myth.  I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of it but to summarize:
1.  Yes, baby carrots are treated with a very small, completely harmless amount of chlorine for a short period while being processed.

2.  All carrots, even ones that come out of the garden and have never been near chlorine, will turn white over time if their skin is removed.  This is called “white blushing” and is completely harmless and perfectly natural as the carrot dries out and ages.

3.  This claim orginates from an email.  Not CNN.  Not BBC News.  Not anything reputable in any way.

This quickly became an enjoyable myth for me since it comes with a few catch-22s for the carrot industry (“big orange?”):

1.  The industry realizes that people only want to buy “pretty” carrots and were forced to throw out misshapen carrots.  In order to minimize this waste, Mike Yurosek, a California carrot farmer creates the first “baby carrot” by cutting up and whittling down the disfigured carrots… BUT… by removing their skin, creates carrots that “blush” all over generating a health scare.

2.  The carrot industry wants to remove harmful bacteria from its product before it sells to consumers BUT it uses a completely harmless amount of chlorine which generates a health scare.

Sorry, carrot industry, looks like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

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One response to “Skeptical at Work – Baby Carrots

  1. Pingback: Skeptic’s Circle 112: Skeptic Party « Cheshire