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Rubbing baking soda on fruit, vegetables removes up to 96% of pesticides

Baking Soda

Baking soda removes up to 96 percent of pesticides from fruit and vegetables, new research reveals.

When mixed with water and gently rubbed on apple skins, the kitchen staple eliminates nearly all the reside left by two commonly-applied pesticides within 15 minutes, a study found.

This method is more effective than the standard procedure of applying a type of bleach to the fruit for two minutes, the research adds.

The findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Previous research reveals baking soda breaks down pesticides due to its highly-alkaline pH, which causes the chemicals to fragment into harmless molecules.

Lead author Dr. Lili He from the University of Massachusetts, said: “Pesticide residues may remain on agricultural produce, where they contribute to the total dietary intake of pesticides. Concerns about potential hazards of pesticides to food safety and human health have increased, and therefore, it is desirable to reduce these residues.”

The researchers applied the common pesticides thiabendazole, which has been shown to penetrate apple skin, and phosmet to organic red apples. These pesticides were left on the fruit for one day.

The researchers then washed the apples with either tap water, a bleach solution often applied to produce or one percent baking soda mixed with water. Electronic mapping technology was used to assess pesticide presence on the surface of, and inside, the apples.

Results reveal baking soda mixed with water is the most effective way of removing pesticides from apples.

After 12 minutes of gentle scrubbing, the baking soda solution removes 80 percent of thiabendazole, while it takes 15 minutes to remove 96 percent of phosmet.

Thiabendazole is thought to be more difficult to remove due to it more readily penetrating fruit’s surfaces.

Previous research reveals baking soda breaks down pesticides due to its highly-alkaline pH, which causes the chemicals to fragment into small, harmless molecules.

The standard post-harvest method of applying bleach to apples’ skins was ineffective at removing all of the pesticides’ residue from the fruit’s surface.

Peeling apples helps to remove pesticides that have penetrated the fruit, however, this will also reduce its nutritional content, according to the researchers.

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