No, the White Stuff on Your Baby Carrots Isn't Chlorine

Grin and carrot.
Grin and carrot. / m01229, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

When it comes to carrot-related misconceptions, the idea that carrots help you see in the dark is probably at the top of the list. But close behind it is the myth that the white stuff on your baby carrots is chlorine.

Like many other rumors, this one is rooted in fact. After baby carrots are cut from regular-sized (though sometimes irregularly shaped) carrots, they are usually rinsed in a very diluted chlorine solution to kill any lingering bacteria. As the Water Quality & Health Council explains, this process is recommended by the FDA to mitigate the risk of food-borne illness, and the chlorine solution is washed off with tap water before the carrots get bagged.

But the “white blush” or “carrot blush” you see on baby carrots is unrelated to chlorine, mold, or any other harmful substance. While regular carrots have a relatively thick skin to keep water contained, baby carrots are more exposed. When they lose too much moisture, their outer layers will start to look white. In other words, the white stuff is often just evidence of dehydration. If you want to rehydrate your carrots and restore their color, soaking them in water should do the trick.

If your freshly soaked baby carrots are still showing some blush, it could be a different issue. According to Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill University’s Office for Science and Society, white spots can also be the result of damage to the carrot’s exterior. Cells respond to the stress with a process that causes a polymer called lignin to form on the surface of the carrot. That, too, looks white—but the carrot is still perfectly safe to eat.

[h/t Water Quality & Health Council]