Sunday, February 1, 2009

Please Pass the Baby Carrots & Chlorine

There's been a whole lot of speculation about baby carrots in the last year or so...

I decided to find out "the truth", if there is such a thing, for myself, and come up with my own conclusion, and I did. Here's what I found:

Baby carrots were originally "made/created" to reduce the amount of wasted, crooked or "imperfect" carrots that were being thrown out. This is true, yes.

Today, they have been genetically altered to be sweeter and uniform in color, making them very convenient - and more expensive than the "regular" unpeeled carrots. Also true.

I have concluded that the baby carrot is a product of frugality. However... it's always too good to be true... the taste. Yuck. They do not taste like the carrots I ate from my dad's garden - true!

It gets worse...

Baby carrots are washed in chlorine. True.

Many fruits and vegetables are washed in chlorine. Also true.

Chlorine is carcinogentic. True.

What the deal?

Once the carrots are cut and shaped into baby/cocktail carrots, they are dipped in a water and chlorine solution in order to preserve them (this is the same chlorine used swimming pools) and, since they do not have their skin or natural protective covering, they give them a higher dose of chlorine. At what cost do we put our health at risk to have esthetically pleasing vegetables which are getting close to plastic? Well?

First of all, the FDA isn't omniscient. Their stand is that a certain amount of choline is safe. Well, if a certain amount of chlorine is safe to consume, it's allowed in our food. But I don't think they consider that chlorine in "safe" amounts is being added to so many things that we are being overdosed with "unsafe" cumulative amounts. It's used to sterilize all sorts of restaurant & food prep equipment and in most states, used to kill bacteria in our water. Yuck!

Nicolas can not and will not drink city water, even at church - no way. He is hyper-sensitive to chlorinated water; he just can't stand the taste of it. Little does he know that it is his body's way of telling him, "Don't drink this chemically treated liquid, posing as water!" (I won't even get started on water subject!)

Ohhh... there's several forms of chlorine used on our baby carrots. I've said it before, and I'll stay it now - that I am glad I had the opportunity to review basic chemistry when I was homeschooling Andrew. Even though it didn't seem so bad the 2nd time 'round...

Forms of Chlorine Used for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
In the past, crop consultants and extension agents have recommended the use of household
bleach or swimming pool formulations of sodium and calcium hypochlorite for growers and
small-scale packing operations. (I wonder what else they recommend...) In reality, this practice continues since these products are less expensive than formulations that are registered and have agricultural product use labels. Chlorinated water sanitation of field bins or totes as well as water used in field packing operations is often commercial household bleach. You know - the stuff your great-grandma used to clean the toilets with! Legally, agricultural chlorine is commercially available in three forms that have been approved for use (registered) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and by individual states
1) Chlorine gas (Cl2)
  • Least expensive but most demanding source of chlorine from a safety and monitoring standpoint
  • Generally restricted to use in very large operations, the use of chlorine gas requires automated, controlled injection systems with in-line pH monitoring (Whoa...)
  • Chlorine gas reduces the pH of water to below 6.5
  • Chlorine gas is commonly used for situations were soil, plant debris, and decaying fruit or vegetables may enter early stages of washing and grading; individual packing or fresh-processing operations have multiple injection points from individual chlorine cylinders to maintain adequate levels in large volumes of water with potentially high chlorine demand from suspended inorganic and organic loads
2) Calcium hypochlorite (CaCl2O2)
  • Most common source of chlorine used for disinfection of produce and produce process water. Registered formulations are 65 percent or 68 percentactive ingredient (a.i.). It is available as a granulated powder, compressed tablets, or large slow-release tablets. In dry storage, calcium hypochlorite is more stable than liquid sodiumhypochlorite. Phytotoxicity (bleaching or burning) of produce can occur if calcium hypochlorite granules fail to dissolve in cool wash tank water or in a hydrocooler system.

3) Sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) --
  • Used in small-scale operations. It is generally used in concentrations of 5.25 percent or 12.75 percent in liquid form, because the solid forms readily absorb water from air and release chlorine gas.
  • Only registered formulations are approved for use on produce (household bleach is not a registered material for produce). Sodium hypochlorite is generally more expensive than other forms of chlorine due to the added shipping cost of the water-based formulations.
  • Excess sodium build up from repeated applications of sodium hypochlorite to recirculating water may damage sensitive produce.
  • Chlorine Dioxide (ClO2). A yellow to red gas with 2.5 times the oxidizing potential of chlorine gas, chlorine dioxide is explosive at concentrations above 10 percent a.i. or at temperatures above 130oC (266oF). On-site generation of chlorine dioxide is also available by combining both chlorine gas and sodium chlorite or sodium hypochlorite, hydrochloric acid, and sodium chlorite.
  • As with chlorine gas, the safety hazards associated with the use of chlorine dioxide demand detailed attention to proper engineering controls to prevent or reduce exposure. Those scary violent explosions occur when chlorine dioxide comes into contact with ammonia compounds
  • The disinfecting power of chlorine dioxide is relatively constant within a pH of 6 to 10. It is effective against most microbes at concentrations of 3 to 5 ppm in clean water. The need for on site generation, specialized worker safety programs, and closed injection systems for Fruit and Vegetable Processing containment of concentrate leakage and fumes from volatilization make chlorine dioxide relatively expensive for produce applications.
All that said and read, I understand that the FDA generalizes and can make mistakes. I understand that my car and it's carbon monoxide could be a deadly tool. But...

I am trying to heal my son.

I am committed to getting toxins out of his body. I believe our bodies can self-heal, at times - most often, when NOT COMPROMISED or when there's not a ND (Neurological Disorder) wrecking havoc in the body.

Final conclusion: I am not going to go back to buying baby carrots for my kids. I have to live with myself for a long time yet.


  1. We feel very strongly regarding this form of clorine used on the baby carrots. We have been buying them so some time not knowing this.There should be listing on the package informing people who have a sensitivity to this.

  2. Bolthouse Farms, the largest producer of baby carrots in the country has developed a web page The web page clears up the inaccuracies of how baby carrots are harvested and produced. We are hoping that you will publish this address for your readers.

    Thank you.