Does Washing Fruits and Vegetables Really Help to Remove Pesticides from Them?

There is a growing concern among people about consuming pesticide residues in the food they eat. How much of these chemicals can be washed off? The following answers should give you a good idea about it.

1.

For a big part, yes. It mainly works for residues, which are on the outer layer of the vegetable skin, where normally the biggest part of pesticides is located. A lot of studies show further, that a acidic washing solution, eg acetic or citric acid, is way more powerful, especially for organophosphorus and organochlorines. Also, peeling and cooking also have a strong effect on reducing pesticide concentration.

Anyway, normally fruits and vegetables are washed in the factory before selling and shouldn‘t have residues above critical limits, theres no need to be scared, at least if you‘re in a country with proper food safety regulations.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691501000163

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814698002313

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814610005984

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691500001770

2.

That’s not the only reason you want to wash your fruit and veg.

The produce has been picked at the farm, sorted once there, transported to a supplier/market, transported to a storage facility/sorting packhouse, transported to store.

Transit in itself can be bad enough.. You don’t want to know how bad the inside of some lorries look like, the original sorting process is often minor, they’re dealing with huge quantities, and want to sell as much produce as they can, with as little waste as possible, but that’s the key part.. There’s still plenty of waste within that produce that’s sent to market/suppliers, which is why packhouse factories exist, fruit it taken to one, to be hopefully.. Properly sorted to supermarket standards.

One bad defect in a box can easily spread and ruin 50% of the produce or more in a box, depending on the produce and defect, can often ruin a whole section of a pallet. we’re talking 8/10 boxes down.
Fresh fruit (melons) are the worse for this, because they have quite a high water content, once one fruit gives in, eats away at the neighbouring fruits, normally 3-6 per box, the defect spreads down the pallet into the boxes below.

You obviously do your best at the packhouse to sort all the fruit individually, but there’s still some bad fruit that gets by, it all depends on the defects, but just slightly touching a neighbouring fruit can give the fruit you buy early signs.

TLDR; Always wash your fruit and veg, they’ve seen a lot of shit before they got to you, been in some pretty terrible conditions, almost all the time.. Be safe and wash it before consumption.

3.

My understanding is that as in other replies the produce has all contaminants washed off by the producer. The main reason behind washing when you’re about to eat it is to remove the dirt & bugs deposited by staff & customers at the store (look around the store at the staff & customers, can you guarantee all of them washed their hands after using the bathroom?) I treat everything as though it’s been handled by the dirtiest person I’ve seen because it probably has.

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