snopes.com: How Are Baby Carrots Made?
Claim: Baby carrots are made from deformed full-sized carrots that have been permeated with chlorine.
MIXTURE OF TRUE AND FALSE INFORMATION
Example: [Collected via e-mail, March 2008]
The “cute” cocktail carrots that you buy in grocery stores come from deformed crooked big carrots. They are put through a machine to become small cocktail carrots. This part everyone knows.
After they are cut to size they are soaked in large vats of water mixed with chlorine to preserve them. The same chlorine you use for your swimming pools and laundry. The reason for this is because they don’t have the protection of the skin so they use a good amount of chlorine.
Notice that after you have stored them in the fridge for a while, a white film forms on them… it’s the chlorine coming to the surface.
At what cost do we risk our health to have esthetically presentable VEGGIES? Well Folks… I think after reading this we will all strart making our own carrot sticks out of fresh carrots and keep them in the fridge (a few at a time), right?
Origins: In March 2008 we began receiving this e-mailed heads-up cautioning consumers that what we call “baby carrots” are actually deformed (crooked) regular carrots that have been whittled down and marinated in chlorine. It is true some food products labeled as baby carrots are made by cutting down larger roots, and that these items can be treated with chlorine during processing. However, it’s not true there’s anything wrong with the larger carrots they’re made from, or that the resultant vegetables reach consumers in a chlorine-soaked state.
Most “baby-cut” versions no longer made from imperfect larger carrots, although the motivation for the invention of this product was an initial desire to find a use for standard-sized carrots that otherwise would have had to be discarded:
Prior to the mid-1980s, broken and misshaped carrots were discarded, leaving some farmers with as little as 30 percent of their crop to take to stores. Tired of throwing away perfectly good food, California carrot farmer Mike Yurosek took the carrots and used a potato peeler to reshape them into small pieces more suitable for quick munching. Yurosek purchased an industrial green bean cutter to quickly whittle the carrots into the familiar 2-inch portions we still see today — and their popularity took off.
The carrots now used to make “baby-cut carrots” are typically ones that have been specially bred to contain more sugar than their standard-sized cousins, because this extra sweetness appeals more strongly to children. Likewise, their bright orange color has also been bred into them, as has the evenness of that color all the way through the root:
Most baby carrots sold in U.S. supermarkets are really what the industry calls “baby cuts” — made from longer carrots that have been peeled and cut into a smaller size. These carrots have been specifically bred to be smaller in diameter, coreless and sweeter than regular carrots.
Bob Borda, a spokesman for Grimmway Farms, the world’s largest carrot grower (it handles 10 million pounds every day), says that over the years the company has developed a hybrid that combines the best qualities from over 250 known commercial varieties.
“Naturally, you breed carrots to get the sweetest flavor and crunch,” he said.
As an antimicrobial treatment to minimize or reduce the contamination of the finished product, cocktail carrots can be treated with chlorine. Those that are so treated are subsequently rinsed with potable water to remove the excess chlorine before packaging:
In order to create thinner vegetables, baby carrots are planted closer together than traditional carrots. In as little as 120 days from planting, the carrots are dug up and trucked to the processing house to be cut and peeled. But before packaging, all carrots receive a brisk scrub accompanied by a chlorine bath.
Wait, what? Chlorine, you say, as in the same chemical you put in your pools?
Grimmway Farms uses a chlorine solution on all its carrots — organic and non-organic — to prevent food poisoning, before a final wash in water. Grimmway says the chlorine rinse is well within limits set by the EPA and is comparable to levels found in tap water.
Well… I was always curious about how baby carrots were made, now I know. A friend sent this to me.