in

What is the best way to clean an apple to remove pesticides?

Credits: Public Domain Pictures

You can rinse your apples or wipe them with towels all you like, it won’t get rid of their pesticides! A recent study explained what you need to do, and we warn you: it’s not fun.

Let us remind you first of all that unless you buy organic foodstuffs, apples, like every other fruit, have been generously sprayed with insecticides during their production. Common solutions are not very effective, and it is difficult to avoid ingesting pesticides at the same time as the fruit.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency insist that distributors wash apples for two minutes in a whitening solution called Clorox, a type of bleach, before they are put on the market. However, as explained by Lili He, a chemist in the Massachusetts State University, this solution has no effect on the pesticides, although it does eliminate impurities and microbes.

In a study published on the 25th October 2017 in Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the researcher and her team tried to determine the best means of washing apples in order to eliminate traces of pesticides. Royal Gala apples were first sprayed with thiabendazole (a fungicide) and then phosmet (an insecticide) before being left to rest for one full day.

Next, each apple was washed either with water, with the whitening solution Clorax or with sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3). After only two minutes, the results were decisive: the sodium bicarbonate eliminated more pesticides than the Clorax or the water, the latter being the least effective.

On the other hand, despite the sodium bicarbonate, almost 20% of the thiabendazole and 4.4% of the phosmet remained on and inside the apples. Peeling the fruit remains the best solution for removing the most pesticides, but this can also remove the vitamins and other bioactive compounds. It is clear that nothing replaces an organic apple, but the problem here is in terms of the price for the consumer.

Sources QuartzSlate