If you’re the type of person who cleans an apple with a quick rinse under water, you might not be properly removing any pesticides that could be lingering on the skin of the fruit. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a common kitchen staple may be the answer to cleaner, healthier produce.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Lili He from the University of Massachusetts, told DailyMail: “Pesticide residues may remain on agricultural produce, where they contribute to the total dietary intake of pesticides. Concerns about potential hazards of pesticides to food safety and human health have increased, and therefore, it is desirable to reduce these residues.”
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In the study, researchers applied two common pesticides (thiabendazole and phosmet) to organic apples and let them sit for one day. Then, they washed the apples with three methods—plain tap water, a bleach solution often applied to produce, or 1 percent baking powder mixed with water—to see which was the most effective. Turns out, the baking powder solution removed up to 96 percent of the pesticides within 15 minutes (the standard pesticide removal process for fruit is to apply the bleach solution to the fruit for two minutes).
Research reveals baking powder is effective at breaking down pesticides because of its highly alkaline pH, which causes the harmful chemicals to combust into nontoxic particles. Though the study was only tested on apples, experts are hopeful this will prove to be a successful method for other fruits and veggies as well.