How about them apples.
The best way to clean pesticides off Granny Smiths, Honeycrisps, Macouns and the like is by using baking soda, according to a report in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
That means yet another use for the kitchen and baking staple is likely in your pantry — or in your refrigerator to keep it smelling fresh.
While pesticides boost crop yields, there are concerns about the impact on people who consume food produced this way — even with Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) of pesticides that have been set. On the Environmental Working Group’s annual Dirty Dozen list of pesticide-laden fruits, apples are at number four this year.
Led by University of Massachusetts Amherst food scientist Lili He, Ph.D., researchers applied pesticides to fruit. One test used the fungicide thiabendazole, which has been shown to be able to penetrate apple peels. In the other, the insecticide phosmet was applied to organic Gala apples.
Three different liquids were used to wash the fruit: tap water, a 1% baking soda/water solution, and a U.S.-EPA-approved commercial bleach solution often used on produce. After 12 and 15 minutes, the baking soda solution was most effective. It reduced 80% of the thiabendazole and 96% of the phosmet.
Authors noted that the baking soda solution method “was not completely effective in removing residues that have penetrated into the apple peel.” But washing produce with either plain tap water or the bleach solution for two minutes, which is the industry standard, was far less effective.
MRL levels don’t ensure food is totally safe to eat. “Safety is a tricky word,” He told the Daily News. “Our study looked into how we can reduce the risk.”