Washing produce with running water may remove many pesticides, but it may not reach those which have penetrated its skin. A recent study suggests soaking fruits and vegetables in a solution of baking soda and water may provide additional help in this regard.
Researchers exposed organic Gala apples to two widely used postharvest pesticides – thiabendazole and phosmet – before washing it in both standard 2-min Clorox wash solutions as well as various baking soda bath options.
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Does it remove thiabendazole and phosmet?
Even if you only eat organic produce, chances are it has attained pesticide residue from non-organic sources. While washing produce with water may help minimize some chemicals’ presence on produce, complete removal can often prove challenging – sprays soaking into fruit pulp cannot simply be rinsed off! A recent study suggested a simple baking soda and water solution can help eliminate some chemical residue on produce.
Researchers conducted their experiments with two varieties of apples treated with the fungicides thiabendazole and phosmet. Their solution showed significant results for surface pesticide reduction; however, due to already soaked into fruit structures from previous use of fungicides it wasn’t quite so successful at eliminating internal pesticides.
Baking soda solution proved ineffective at degrading carbamate and organophosphate pesticides designed to be absorbed through plants’ roots and processed by their bodies, while it proved highly successful at eliminating thiabendazole and phosmet residues on apple skins.
Soaking produce in baking soda solution for 12-15 minutes was enough to remove virtually all thiabendazole and phosmet surface residues, outperforming washing it in water and bleach, which only removed a fraction of these pesticides.
Though the research focused on Gala apples, other fruits can also be soaked in this mixture to remove pesticide residues. A solution of 1-ounce of baking soda per 2 cups of water typically suffices in extracting most pesticide residues from produce; however, please keep in mind that this only works against outer residues on fruit surfaces and not internal contamination of its pulp.
Vinegar has also proven effective at reducing pesticide levels in produce. Soaking produce with vinegar for 20 minutes should suffice; just be wary not to soak porous fruits like berries too long as too much acidity could damage their delicate skins.
Does it remove diphenylamine?
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an invaluable kitchen ingredient, but its uses extend far beyond cooking. Baking soda has many applications beyond culinary uses: mouthwash, deodorant and bathroom cleaner among them. A recent study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry demonstrated how sodium bicarbonate could even remove pesticides from organic Gala apples soaked in water containing sodium bicarbonate, tap water or Clorox bleach before surface-enhanced Raman mapping was employed to analyze its results.
Studies conducted at Cornell University discovered that washing apples in a baking soda solution removed nearly all residues left by two commonly-applied pesticides — the fungicide thiabendazole and insecticide phosmet — within 15 minutes, more effectively than applying bleach directly onto fruit for two minutes post harvest. They believe sodium bicarbonate combined with alkaline pH levels helped break down these chemicals, making removal simpler.
But as noted by its authors, this cleaning method isn’t a silver bullet; rather it only matches other washing methods, which generally require longer soaking times to eliminate most pesticide residues from fruits and vegetables. Furthermore, surface-applied pesticides are usually removed effectively while more serious penetration into peels may not be so easily washed off with water alone.
Studies suggest that rinsing, rubbing, or scrubbing your produce may also help remove pesticide residues from fruits and vegetables. Though these methods might not be as effective as using baking soda solutions, they still offer better alternatives than simply indulging in all fruits and veggies at once. For optimal results, mix one teaspoon of baking soda per two cups of water and soak your produce for approximately one minute before rinsing and enjoying! Keep in mind, however, that this method won’t remove pesticides already present such as diphenylamine – so make sure you peel your fruits and vegetables prior to eating them (and of course avoid any recalls due to diphenylamine contamination). For up-to-date updates regarding outbreaks or recalls subscribe to Recall Alerts via the FDA SafeFood service.
Does it remove other pesticides?
Even organic produce contains pesticides that seep into its skin and flesh, leaving residues that washing alone cannot remove. According to studies, baking soda has proven an effective alternative rinsing and scrubbing can’t do – up to 96% more effective in fact than simply using tap water!
Scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted experiments to test different washing methods on apples coated with two common pesticides – thiabendazole and phosmet. After applying these fungicides and insecticides to organic Gala apples, they used electronic mapping technology to detect residues both on their surface and within its skins. Submersion for just 15 minutes in a solution of sodium bicarbonate and water was shown to remove more chemicals than either two minute soak in bleach or two minute rinse with running water could.
Researchers found that baking soda’s alkaline pH breaks down pesticides more easily, making the washing solution more effective at washing them away. Researchers also discovered that soaking apples in a solution of sodium bicarbonate, vinegar and water removed even more pesticides than bleach and tap-water wash; similarly soaking in one ounce of baking soda per 100 ounces of water removed almost all thiabendazole and phosmet present as well as over 99% of diphenylamine present.
At home, using this method requires gathering an adequate quantity of produce that needs washing, and adding one or two tablespoons of baking soda per bowl full. Next, fill the remaining space with water, mixing well. Place fruits or veggies into this solution, soaking for 12-15 minutes and rinsing with running water as soon as 12-15 minutes have lapsed – this should remove chemical residues as well as dirt and bacteria build-up that may remain.
Does it remove other residues?
Farmers use pesticides to keep their crops safe from disease, insects and bacteria that could threaten damage, yet even when applied topically, residues from these chemicals can leach through and be consumed by consumers when purchasing fruits and vegetables. It is therefore crucial that all produce be thoroughly washed prior to consumption – particularly those with thinner skin like strawberries, spinach, or kiwis; quick rinses with tap water may not remove all residues effectively while vinegar could actually deteriorate them due to its acidity levels; instead a solution of 1-ounce baking soda added with 100 ounces of water could wash off most residues more effectively than quick rinses with tap water alone!
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) has many useful applications, from cleaning white clothes and neutralizing refrigerator odors to relieving heartburn. But recent research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry also demonstrated its power at eliminating certain pesticides from apples, as evidenced by an experiment involving coating apples with two common penetrating pesticides (thiabendazole and phosmet) which penetrated skin layers, then washing with tap-water rinse, Clorox bleach wash or baking soda solution solutions – which were most successful at cleaning off these two chemicals within 15 minutes!
Baking soda’s alkaline pH level helps break down and decompose chemicals, rendering them less harmful. Not all types of chemicals will react in this way with baking soda; only those containing acids will react similarly; that being said, washing fruits and vegetables with this solution remains better than simply using plain water as rinse method.
Not content to simply wash produce with baking soda, you could also try washing it in a solution of four parts water to one part vinegar for 20 minutes, or soaking them in full-strength vinegar for 30 seconds – taking care not to soak porous fruits like berries in this solution as its higher acid concentration could damage their delicate skins.