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Dehydration -- Not Chlorine -- Accounts for White Blush

Baby carrots are a yummy and convenient way to meet your fruit and vegetable requirements — which is why an email hoax purveying false and frightening information about the innocent snack is such a shame. The most disturbing claim alleges that the whitish covering sometimes seen on baby carrots is a kind of chlorine preservative. But “it’s nothing of the sort,” according to Professor Trevor Suslow, an extension research specialist at the University of California at Davis. “It’s essentially cell dehydration after the abrasion process. It’s not chlorine rising to the surface.”

Baby carrots are cut and peeled from thin, longer carrots — NOT as the e-scare claims, “crooked and deformed carrots” (though frankly, since a bent carrot is as nutritious as a straight one, it’s hard to see why carrot shape should be of concern). Baby carrots are washed multiple times before packing, including a disinfecting rinse with water that contains minute amounts of chlorine to protect consumers against common foodborne bacteria. Further rinsing with plain water removes virtually all the chlorine — anything which may remain on the carrots would be less than what you’d find in tap water (which is also minutely chlorinated, for public safety). Once a bag of baby carrots has been opened, its contents will eventually dry out (like any other carrot would), acquiring a whitish appearance.

The bogus email is all the more unfortunate since carrots support vision, skin health and immunity. Carrots are a top source of beta-carotene — and research links higher intakes of beta-carotene-rich veggies with stronger bones. Carrots also contain falcarinol, a compound which reduced the risk of developing cancerous tumors in animal studies. For a delicious way to enjoy this Superfood for your Eyes try: Curried Brussels Sprouts and Baby Carrots.

Published May 1, 2010

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