The Baby Carrot Mystery

This evening I received the following e-mail with a request to investigate the rather frightening claims made therein;

Subject: baby carrot : Important Information!!

The following is information from a farmer who grows and packages carrots for IGA, METRO, LOBLAWS, etc.

The small cocktail (baby) carrots you buy in small plastic bags are made using the larger crooked or deformed carrots which are put through a machine which cuts and shapes them into cocktail carrots . most people probably know this already.

What you may not know and should know is the following: once the carrots are cut and shaped into cocktail carrots they are dipped in a solution of water and chlorine in order to preserve them (this is the same chlorine used your pool) since they do not have their skin or natural protective covering, they give the m a higher dose of chlorine.

You will notice that once 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 esthetically pleasing vegetables which are practically plastic?

We do hope that this information can be passed on to as many people as possible in the hopes of informing them where these carrots come from and how they are processed. Chlorine is a very well known carcinogen.

Please let us make this information available to as many people as possible. If you care about your family and friends, pass it on.

I have done a little research on the internet, oh wonderful source of knowledge, and have unearthed the truth behind the baby carrot mystery.

Baby carrots come in two basic varieties;

1. True Baby Carrots are carrots grown to the “baby” stage. These carrots can be identified by the fact that there is a true “shoulder” on each carrot. Some farmers leave a little bit of green on the top of the carrot to prove that it is a true baby carrot. Some people prefer these baby carrots due to a belief that they are more natural or nutritious. These carrots are usually a lot more expensive then the second kind of baby carrots;

2. Manufactured Baby Carrots, or “baby-cut” carrots are more common and also less expensive then the true baby carrots. In the 1980’s a Californian farmer, Mike Yurosek, was fed up with throwing away up to 400 tonnes of malformed carrots per day and he came up with the idea of cutting these carrots down to 2 inch sections, peeling them and selling them as baby carrots.

Many fruits and vegetables, when cut, peeled or bruised, suffer a discoloration at the site of the tissue damage. This is caused by enzymes in a reaction called melanosis. You may be familiar with the brown discoloration which forms on an apple when you bite into it and then leave it on the table for a short while, that is the melanosis. In carrots this process causes a white discoloration, known as white blush. Therefore, carrots left in your fridge for a few days do not turn white because they are leaching chlorine, that whitening is caused by tissue damage.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency vegetables may be washed in chlorinated water in order to reduce microbial contamination. This water would be very much like your tap water. While it is “the same chlorine used in your pool”, it is also the same chlorine used in your municipal drinking water, and in your salt. The assertion that these baby-cut carrots are given a higher dose of chlorine does not seem to be based on fact. There are strict guidelines as to how long vegetables may be submersed in the chlorinated water and they have to be thoroughly rinsed afterward. The Carrot Museum has an interesting description of exactly how baby-cut carrots are made, as well as a thorough outline on the nature of white blush.

To claim that carrots washed in water are “practically plastic” is patently absurd. Plastics are synthetic or semisynthetic compounds, typically polymers of high molecular weight, used to manufacture industrial products. Plastics are malleable during production and can be cast, pressed or moulded into a wide variety of shapes. Carrots washed in chlorinated water are not plastic, they are clean carrots.

Finally this e-mail triggers the best hoax-alarm I can think of, it tries to scare you by telling you that chlorine can cause cancer (I do not dispute this), and urges you to send the same warning to all of your friends and family.

This is a classic hoax e-mail. It contains some truthful information, some blurry facts, and some utter garbage. Whenever these factors are coupled with a plea that you spam your contact book with this  “if you care” about them, don’t send it to anyone! Just press delete.


6 responses to “The Baby Carrot Mystery

  1. wouldn’t that ALSO be the same chlorinated water used to grow crops on farms that rely on municipal supply?

  2. Thank you for posting this. One of my friends just posted the email on their FB wall and I was slightly unsettled since I feed my kids TONS of baby cut carrots. I figured there was nothing really to worry about as I do live in a country that has decent food safety regulations, but reading this blog entry helped put me even more back at ease.

  3. Very good information..I cannot stand the fabrication or misuse of pseudo-scientific information..thank you for clearing this up!

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