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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Does washing fruit and vegetables remove chemical residue?

    Related Topic
    I've read a lot lately about how detrimental chemical residues on fruits and vegies are for our health but does rinsing them under running water actually do anything to remove it?
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    Nicole Senior

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I'm an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist, consultant, author, speaker and food and health enthusiast. I love talking and writing about food and health.(please note, … View Profile

    It's a good idea to wash all fruits and vegetables before use if you eat the skin. This will remove most  agricultural residues as well as dirt and bacteria picked up during growing, handling, transport and storage- you should do this even for produce you grow yourself. Fortunately Australian grown food is low in chemical residues - and within acceptable safety limits - and the Australian Total Diet Surveys back this up. The same cannot be said for imported produce and not all imports are tested before sale, so washing is even more important. Of course if you want to avoid all chemical residues in your food, buy organic.
    TIP: save the water you use to wash your fruit and veg and use it to water your plants- I use a tub in the sink

  • 4

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    Amber Furbank

    Nutritionist

    Amber is an Accredited Clinical Nutritionist who enjoys providing nutritional advice by way of wholefoods and supplementation to support optimal health. Amber is a firm … View Profile

    It is also beneficial to rinse fruit and vegetables in a water and apple cider vinegar (ACV) mix. 


  • Anonymous

    I was washing my fruit with a natural plant based surfactant product but found that the fruit went rotten and never ripened so stoped using. The manufacturer of the produst said I was washing off added preservatives on the fruit that some how caused this. I am curious why it did happen as I believe that our Australian grown fruit is low in chemical residues ?

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    Core Nutrition is the business of Mrs Elke Supple, Accredited Dietitian & Nutritionist who provides family orientated nutrition consultancy. Elke specialises in weight loss, food … View Profile

    In a nutshell - water doesn't remove all chemical residue. According to the latest Toxicology reports for Australian produce - the chemial residue is low. But if you were wondering, tomatoes actually hit top of the chart on chemical residue levels, and there was a large gap between tomatoes and the next highest on the list (being celery).  So you may want to buy organic tomotoes in future. Having said that, our tomatoes are still within acceptable safety limits.
    Taking the skin off fruit and vegetables is one way of further lowering the residue content. Unfortunately, this also takes away the extra fibre and some nutrients out of that food too.
    To avoid the high costs of buying organic produce all the time, consider a fruit an vegetable wash mix that does remove more chemical residues than water alone. 1/2 water and 1/2 apple cider vinegar is popular. The recipe we mostly use and recommend is in spray bottle add 2 Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar and 2 Tbsp baking soda into 1 cup of filtered water (don't use tap water). This mixture will foam up a bit. Squirt generously onto your fruit and veg and leave for 3 minutes. Then rinse again with water, pat dry and then store correctly.
    This spray bottle solution lasts for 1 week (for most households). However, it's not suitable on some produce like strawberries or mushrooms. If you want to, just do it immediately before use.

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