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Should You Wash Fruit & Vegetables Before Eating?

This was addressed at some length in the linked thread. The conclusion that I came to (that Woolies admitted to) was the powder is most likely talcum which is used as a carrier for the insecticide chlorpyrifos.

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If a producer dusts too heavily they might see a large accumulation on a plant, but washing the bananas prior to packaging is designed to remove this dust. What most of what you see is the natural waxes that bananas produce on their stems, leaves and fruit. It is a natural barrier to water loss and some plants do produce a noticeable amount.

What Woolworths says I take with a grain of salt noting my family and my experiences in regards to our past production (no longer commercial growers). Lady Fingers typically have more wax present than Cavendish but it isn’t impossible for Cavs to show increased amounts on some plants.


I do even though I buy from the farmer. He tells me to give it a good wash . My fruit doesn’t have wax on it nor is it sprayed… still gets a good wash.


So Woolies are trying to hide the reality that the dust is a natural substance by falsely saying their product is insecticide dusted. Further they are confessing that finding dust indicates a failure in their supply chain because their policy is to wash it off before the fruit is presented for sale - also to avoid the truth that the dust is a natural product.

Washing rarely hurts. Not washing might hurt. Simple risk management? Even if only from the other shoppers who ‘inspect’ foods or machines that missed a cleaning cycle?


Certainly a valid point but best not to think about that too much - because if vendors / manufacturers think about that too much, they might be tempted to overpackage even more than they already do.

Nope just saying they perhaps don’t know what it is and just think they do. It may be dust but again from personal experience it normally isn’t and it normally is natural waxes on the skins. Wash it off if you want, it’s your choice to do so, I just peel and eat. To be honest they reject when skins are marked, when fruit looks different eg too straight, too bent, too short, too long. Customers complain because the skins have markings so the business can’t sell them so they either reduce the price or waste them from the shelves (hopefully usually sent to Foodbank or similar).

Lots of bananas don’t even get sent to markets because the producers know they won’t be saleable to the big buyers. Same for a lot of fruit and veg. Wastage is terrible because consumers have been taught to reject anything that looks less than perfect even though the product is perfectly edible.


Bringing back memories of Japan…


I wonder if this is ‘taught’ or one of those inbred human traits.

Other animals smell or inspect fruits etc to check that they are suitable for eating (think of possums or bats which usually only eat fruits which are turning from unripe to ripe). Many consumers also judge ripeness through smelling (e.g. rockmelons or many stone fruit or visual inspection (e.g. tomatoes, mangoes or strawberries)

Maybe this is an inbuilt human trait to minimise food poisoning (or to maximise nutritional value) from poor quality. soiled or spoiled foods.

Maybe in the modern world we should be taught to accept food that is less then perfect but still very much good and safe to eat…to break this inbuilt perception that perfect is better. I suppose supermarkets like Woollies are doing this through their Odd Bunch, but it could be expended much further.

I also recall from my uni days that a lecturer indicated that less than perfect fruit may have more flavour and/or nutritional benefits (say a plant responding to an insect attack produces natural chemicals which improve nutritional value - these same claims are often made by the organic industry). Maybe such fruit and vegetables could be marketed as being just as good, if not better than the perfect one.

The perfect gift, that at the end of the day takes up no extra space in the home. It does make one lust for the product, if but briefly until the currency conversion is completed.

I would not generalise all of Japan to be quite the same. Everyday vegetables are just that, and far more reasonably priced fruit can be purchased in everyday shopping. Much is imported and would place most Aussie supermarkets a distant second place for quality. Still blemish free, size and shape compliant.

Of course those of us who can grow our own know just how variable the real product can be. Hello, stewed fruit, pies and preserves/jams?


I think it is some of each. We do, quite reasonably, inspect food for suitability, you only eat rotting fruit if starving and there is no option. But too often you will see people reject fruit and vegetables that have slight surface blemishes that have no bearing on safe eating or nutrition. In part it is consequence of the self-serve greengrocer. Once when the shop assistant filled the bag you got a mix of the best, the average and the not so pretty. People didn’t complain unless they got a particularly bad selection.

Now the attitude is to choose only the very best specimens because if you don’t someone else will and who cares if the imperfect are left in the bottom of the bin. We should all care because the consequence is a huge level of food wastage at both the farm, because the retailers won’t accept blemished produce, at then at the shop. This adds to the price of the product and you have to wonder if a land with so little arable land and available water can afford it in the long run.

A further consequence of the drive for visual perfection in produce is to encourage breeders to focus on size, shape, colour and durability; rather than taste, nutrition and disease resistance. So you get the giant bright red strawberry that tastes like nothing much and the tomato that will travel thousands of kilometers and still look good that has the texture of cardboard and dulls the palate.