I recently received the following message in an email alert (thanks Grandma!) – revealing a deeper truth behind, of all the foods to which you never gave more than a good chew’s worth of thought, BABY CARROTS.
The exposé began with a fact you may already know: the carrots are cut down from deformed carrots that weren’t aesthetic enough to be sold as wholes. Kind of says a lot about the average consumer, but it’s really an ingenious recovery on the grower’s part.
But here’s where it gets juicy – the carrots are then dipped into a CHLORINE solution (a known carcinogen used to preserve). According to the email, the white film that forms after a few days is the chlorine resurfacing.
Oh, is that all? Why do so many of these large corporations assume their customers are not entitled to this crucial information? Sure, honesty might kill sales, but then again, poisoning your customers might too.
I sat in disbelief, stunned that such an unassuming food could actually be harboring this dark secret. My stomach felt unsettled, especially when I remembered that *gulp* I actually ate some baby carrots . . . today.
Could it be true? Are baby carrots really processed with chlorine? Preliminary research led me to snopes.com, the popular debunking website. The site sheds some light on this case, if you look at it right. What I got from Snopes . . .
- The issues is not with carrots themselves, which are as always highly nutritious and delicious. The issue is with the processing of the carrots – and Snopes confirms that yes, the carrots are treated with a chlorine solution. Snopes thinks it’s worth noting that the product does not arrive in a ‘chlorine-soaked state’, and after all, the ‘excess’ chlorine is ‘rinsed’ off (how reassuring).
- I think it’s worth noting that it has ever been in contact with chlorine, period! Just because they’re not sold in a chlorine marinade doesn’t mean there’s no cause for concern. Disclosure of this information on the packaging should be required.
- While researching I ran into the line (or a variation of) “Evidence [of its danger] has not been found.” Be careful! A loaded statement like this implies the evidence has also been sought. I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to find any double-blind studies on the effects of a lifetime of eating (chlorinated) baby carrots. It hasn’t been ‘found’ because it hasn’t been tested! The statement is meant for you to assume that the absence of negative evidence equates with “safe”. It doesn’t.
- The carrots have also been genetically modified bred for added sweetness and brightness in color. Snopes also clarifies that the chlorine is used as a microbial agent, not a preservative. In that case, they should take a cue from Brazilians, who have replaced chlorine in their pools with naturally microbial Grapefruit seed extract. Organic farmers already use a citrus-based microbial instead of chlorine on their cocktail carrots.
- According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (Canada’s equally-inept answer to the FDA), ‘using chlorine in this manner is acceptable practice for ALL fresh cut and ready to eat vegetables.’ Not just baby carrots. And you know if this is happening in Canada, it’s certainly happening here.
- But relax! Because the white film is not chlorine rising but a natural sign of dehydration, and would occur with any dehydrating vegetable.
- Really though, baby carrots are sort of everywhere. I (used to) get them at the grocery store, restaurants, and the office veggie tray. Now I’m wishing the farmer’s market wasn’t five months away. Here’s an interesting idea to ponder in the meantime though.