White powder on bananas

A relative asked about “that white talcy powder that is often on the outside of bananas” and says that “Woolworths describes it as “residues of talc based powder insecticides (white)””. I’d assumed it was natural, but apparently it’s contamination. What is it?




Perhaps it could be a fungus? If you manage to grab a pic, that would be interesting to see.


Woolies standard for suppliers says this talc residue must be washed off. This link may be the preparation.

AFAIK bananas do not have a powdery white bloom naturally. I once worked briefly on a banana plantation and saw no such bloom. Your hands get very sticky from the natural (AFAIK harmless) gum on the bunches. If there was any bloom it would have stuck to us. Other cultivars might have other properties but I doubt it.

If you are particularly worried about insecticide residue wash all supermarket fruit before use.


I’m pretty sure it is applied, and not a fungus. I’ve seen it often enough and previously asked about it at the shop, but never received a satisfactory answer, so have assumed it was some sort of probably toxic fungicide/insecticide.
Our home grown Red Daccas are entirely white powder free! :slight_smile:


Hmm, very interesting indeed. I’ll be sure to wash my hands after handling any bananas after this :banana:


Did you know that queensland bananas are allegedly dipped in a carcinogenic so they will look a lovely yellow and look picture perfect for longer. Shame the poison seeps through the banana and into our bodys. More toxins please barman. You might have noticed carnarvon bananas look the part, are the part and taste the part. No carcinogens there

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Are you referring to calcium carbide solution? do you have a reference to this being used in Queensland? (and not in other places in Australia)

There seems to be a lot of references to it generally, but I couldn’t quickly see one specific to what you were suggesting.


The suggestion seems generally to be that a uniformly yellow banana with a green stem may have been artificially ripened, where a normally ripened banana will be yellow all over with some degree of brown spots …


It appears it use in Queensland is illegal…but it is alleged to have been used in some developing countries.

It is suggested that proof that it is used in Queensland or Australia should be provided to substantiate any claims…otherwise it falls into t.e category of a internet myth/conspiracy.


Does this evil potion have a name?

How do you know of this?


Not pyjamas?



Because i am interested in being healthy and minimizing health issues as i get older. Its amazing what you uncover when your interested in being healthy

There are many competing claims for things to do or to use to be healthy and things to avoid to not be unhealthy. We all have to make judgements about which ones are important. Vague claims with no source are impossible to evaluate.


It could also be salts from water used to wash the bananas prior to selling. I expect that a banana farmer wouldn’t necessarily use potable water (due to cost or availability) and groundwater may be a suitable option.

Since the skin is not consumed, it don’t matter is it has some residues salts on the surface from evaporated wash water.

I don’t plan to give the white powder on the skin the lick test to see if it is salty, just in case the hypothesis is wrong.


It’s great that people raise the stories they have seen or heard for discussion here - this thread certainly captured my interest.

Calcium carbide is illegal in food production almost everywhere including throughout Asia. The case studies indicate the treatment of fruit with calcium carbide appeared to be a problem in developing countries, especially in open markets, and contact with this chemical also produces an acute response - it will burn your skin if touched, create ulcers, vomiting, pain and nausea if consumed and it gets worse with higher doses.

I couldn’t find any incidence or reports about this in Australia. Can you imagine picking up a banana in a local market and it burning your hand? Seems unlikely this would occur without notice.

Even though this isn’t a MythDefied thread, I’ve awarded some BS Buster badges for the efforts to explain the mysterious powder so far. Please keep posting your banana (or any other fruit) related stories or explanations here :+1:


Calcium carbide or not, why is it left to us, consumers, to do a guessing game? My opinion is that all applied chemicals/ treatments should be labelled. Tell us the full story, and we will decide for ourselves what to buy and where.

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I always wash all fruit and veges, no matter whether I’m removing and throwing the skin away, immediately I bring them home from the shop…and also thoroughly wash my hands after doing this. Insecticides/anti-fungal chemicals etc are applied to fruits and vegetables in order to allow them to be stored safely before sale, and these chemicals are best not ingested by humans (or animals). So develop the habit of making sure you wash your hands after selecting fresh produce especially if you’re going to have them around your face as in eating etc.


Not to mention bacterial contamination such as the rockmelon listeria outbreak recently.

I also posted an article warning consumers to wash avocados before cutting them.

A relative asked me what was the point as the skin is not eaten but had overlooked the fact that the knife will transfer bacteria from the skin into the pulp.

In addition to bacteria from production and shipping, there is also the risk of contamination when produce is handled by store employees and customers.

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We grow bananas at Caves Beach NSW. Actually we cut most out before they get too large as they take over your yard. In 20 years have never seen any white mould/powder. The shop ones I understand are dipped to ripen, then they do not last long in a tempting state. Ours are cut down at the slightest hint of ripening as the bats, rats and possums will get them. Naturally ripen in the house, wrap in newspaper and store in fridge to make them last as it’s always a feast or famine. The neighbours always get some, they reckon much better than the shop.


I think this very unlikely. You would need to have a high salt content with almost no other pollution to get a white residue, otherwise it would be brown or invisible. Bananas are grown in subtropical and tropical coastal area, often on hills, in high rainfall areas with short fast flowing rivers going to the sea. These are not the sort of places where salty groundwater has risen up to the surface.

Absent chemical analysis of the observed bloom the documentation from the industry and the vendor strongly suggest the description in the lead post
“Woolworths describes it as residues of talc based powder insecticides (white)”
is most likely.

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