2 Baby Carrot Myths and Facts: How are Baby Carrots Made and What about Chlorine?

Who would have guessed that one of the most “viral” things I’ve ever posted on Facebook would be about organic baby carrots? Clearly people want to understand and discuss baby carrots!

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As a result I decided to do some additional research on the topic and also restate what I learned (and shared) in my original post. So today I am shedding some light on the two mysteries that surround baby carrots: how they are made and if they are really “soaked in chlorine.”

I buy baby carrots on occasion (they are not a regular purchase but can be handy in a lunchbox), and like others, I honestly just wanted to know the truth.

And speaking of the truth, I want to share that I do not like to spread misinformation so please know the facts I am sharing do not come from Snopes or Google or a Facebook “friend” or any other questionable source.

3/5/13 update: To clarify, it is not my intent to discredit Snopes or other sources, but rather to point out that I did not rely on 3rd party information.

I called up the carrot company myself to get these answers (the 800 number is right there on the back of the package), and if you think produce companies would spread misinformation to customers like me about their government-regulated processes then that’s a whole other blog post for another day! But for now, I believe what they’ve told me – and sent me in writing – is pretty solid.

How Baby Carrots Are Made

Let’s face it – baby carrots do not look like regular carrots. First off, they are a smaller size and their rounded edges sort of resemble little “stubs,” and when you cut them down the middle you don’t quite see the same core that you would find in a regular carrot. So, what are baby carrots anyway?

According to California-based Grimmway Farms (baby carrot producers under names like Cal-Organic), the carrots they use are a specific variety that are smaller in diameter than regular table carrots and grown just for the production of baby carrots. The end product is shorter in length than regular carrots because, well, they cut them.

They say their baby carrot variety looks similar to a regular carrot right out of the ground except it’s smaller in diameter, sweeter, more tender, and – while it still has a core down the middle – the core is much more slender than a traditional table carrot. So the diameter of the baby carrot that you see in the store is the actual diameter of the original carrot. But these carrots grow about 8 – 10 inches long so as I mentioned they cut them into small pieces, abrasively peel them with something like a potato peeler, then wash and package them for stores. (Pictures of this whole process are unfortunately proprietary.)

I asked why the edges of the peeled baby carrots are rounded and they said when they go through the peeler they tumble together (like a rock tumbler) so the edges get “polished” by other carrots during that process. I also asked what they do with the “waste” from the peels and tips, which they call the “mash,” and they said the tips are used for other products like shredded carrots (sold as salad toppers) and the peels are used for cattle feed.

So long story short, just like there are different varieties of apples (Honey Crisp vs. Granny Smith) there are different varieties of carrots, and some happen to be smaller in diameter than others!

Are Baby Carrots “Soaked in Chlorine?”

There’s a pretty big rumor going around that peeled baby carrots are “soaked in a chlorine solution.” Some even take it so far as to say what makes these carrots turn white over time is the chlorine coming to the surface.

As it turns out, according to a written statement from Grimmway Farms (which is the largest producer of baby carrots in the United States), the carrots are treated with WATER that contains a small amount of chlorine. And this water/chlorine solution is “well within the limits established by the EPA and comparable to the amount acceptable in [public] drinking water.”

I am by no means condoning the consumption of chlorine (that’s an even bigger issue), but the amount of chlorine in the water they use is 4 parts per million (ppm), which, for some, is similar to what’s in your drinking water.

Again this is certainly not ideal, but I personally find that to be a lot less “dramatic” than carrots being soaked in straight up chlorine. They also said, “[The] chlorine is used to keep the carrots, the processing water and the processing equipment in a sanitary condition in order to prevent the spread of food-born pathogens [like e. coli].”

How Does that Compare to the Chlorine in a Pool?

Believe it or not, the government regulation for chlorine allowed in a swimming pool is LESS than what’s allowed in public drinking water, which varies by region but is generally 1 – 3 ppm! My first thought (aside from “that’s crazy”) is that I can sometimes smell chlorine coming off of swimming pools so how could that be?

Apparently, according to multiple sources, the aroma that you smell when you are at the pool could actually be from the pool not having enough chlorine. Cited from the Water Quality & Health Council (and verified through many other sources), that smell could “indicate that the pool water has not been properly treated. A common cause is high levels of chloramines, formed when chlorine combines with body oils, perspiration, urine and other contaminants brought into pools by swimmers.

Contrary to what most people think, a strong chemical smell is not an indication of too much chlorine in the pool. In fact, the pool may actually need additional chlorine treatment to get rid of chloramines and sanitize the water.” Nice.

So, Why do Baby Carrots Turn White?

The white color that you sometimes see on the outside of baby carrots is technically called “blush” and it’s the evidence of dehydration. This could even happen to your own fresh carrots that you peel and then let sit in the fridge for days or weeks prior to eating them. This happens because, according to Grimmway, even though the carrots have been pulled out of the ground and peeled they are still living roots so they sometimes turn white to create a new protective outer layer. They said this does not change the nutritional value or affect the food safety of the carrots…frankly it just isn’t pretty (and it could sometimes mean the carrots will taste a little dried out).

Putting those carrots in a bowl of ice water will help bring back the bright orange color if it concerns you.


So, in summary, I’ve said this about conventional produce before and I’ll say it about baby carrotsEating any produce is far better than eating none at all.

But if avoiding standard tap water is important to you then you might want to rethink what kind of carrots you buy at the grocery store. Like I said above we normally buy whole carrots ourselves (and even grow our own wild carrots in the winter!), but a couple readers pointed out to me that even if you buy fresh carrots then “wash” them off in your chlorinated tap water before eating them…how is that much different than the baby carrot process?

And here we go further and further down the rabbit hole, which is honestly a place I like to avoid (since it’s clearly unrealistic to go live in a bubble somewhere). So, no matter what kind of carrots you decide to buy going forward (now that you have the facts), hopefully some of you, like me, will be relieved to know that baby carrots are NOT actually soaked in a pure chlorine bath.

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307 thoughts on “2 Baby Carrot Myths and Facts: How are Baby Carrots Made and What about Chlorine?”

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  1. thanks for the good info. I read a bunch of the comments and noticed how no one seemed to mention the assumingly unintentional pun “down the rabbit hole” in an article about carrots! hah!

  2. Roxanne Manhoso

    Did it ever occur 2 anyone that in the old days people didn’t get cancer like they do now the reason is all the crap they put in your food. People who are lucky enough to have their own garden are way more healthier did your average American who consumes all those chemicals in your food. I’m not just a Looney I consume all those chemicals to and of course I am ill. Cancer these days is as common as the cold and that’s pretty sad.

    1. I am sorry to hear you are I’ll.My brother started me on organic 15 yrs ago.You are so right in that the food is so full of chemicals it does give people cancer and other deseases. I can suggest to you to take vitimin c iv therapy. It is like a natural version of chemotherapy
      Google it in your area. It works as the high level of C kills cancer cells

    2. They just TASTE AWFUL!!! Doesn’t anyone else notice? How do you get rid of that awful Taste!! They taste like chemicals, not good and certainly not carrots!!

  3. Thanks for providing this overview Lisa . We grow our own carrots (the larger table variety) during the summer months and I could never understand why baby carrots had such a different texture, taste and even smell. I feel silly for not even considering that they were of a different variety! I might see if I can find some seedlings myself for growing!

    1. Sherry,
      Look for Sugarsnax from Nunhems and/or Triton from Sakata. Those varieties are used almost exclusively for Baby carrots and have good flavor. I personally like Triton better. It’s flavor uniformity is pretty good from root to root

    1. Milly, you are also misinformed. Baby carrots are specifically bred to be long and slender. They’re also selected for flavor, sweetness, and texture to give everyone a good eating experience. The cracked or split carrots are usually sweeter because the sugar content causes them to crack. Companies like Grimmway and Bolthouse are responsible farming operations and have the best interests in mind for their customers.

    2. It really helps to read & comprehend your sources. That Snopes link agrees with everything the blog author says, lol!

  4. Hi! Thank you for the information. I’m a new reader and looking forward to being more educated about food! If if you or your readers are interested, There’s a great episode of “How It’s Made” that shows exactly how baby carrots are made.

  5. Sorry, but any sign of chlorine in your food should not be consumed. Yeah its in our water, which it shouldn’t be! You’re trying to make it sound like its alright to ingest chlorine…. I doubt they are telling the truth about the amount, its probably quite a bit more. I will definitely stop eating these, not worth poisoning myself over. Good luck.

    1. You do realize that kind of stuff is illegal right? They can’t straight up say a lie to the media, even though companies like to jump through loopholes.

    2. Have fun eating at Chipotle then, Adam. No chlorine or any other poisons there… well, aside from E. coli. But hey, E. coli is an all natural toxin so it’s gotta be good, right?

    3. Adam, you’re a fool to think it’s a higher concentration. I actually have firsthand experience with Grimmway and their chlorine uses and it’s exactly what she stated. I’m sure you shower in more chlorine than you’ll ever eat.

    4. Adam, Your declaration about poisoning yourself by ingesting chlorine used to sanitize food as well as Tap water in 99.9% of the homes who use “city water” sounds like it was more from ignorance of the way ANY food processed for sale, for human consumption is handled & sanitized, including Organic produce. Fruits and vegetables are unique foods because they are often consumed raw or with little preparation. Effective intervention strategies have been developed, but they cannot completely eliminate microbial food safety hazards associated with eating raw produce. Therefore, preventing contamination of fresh fruits and vegetables with microbial pathogens, dangerous levels of chemical residues, or physical contaminants is the most effective strategy to assure that these foods are wholesome and safe for human consumption. In general, anything that comes into contact with fresh produce has the potential to contaminate it. Fresh produce may become contaminated at any point along the farm-to-table journey. The most common source of microbial contamination of fresh produce is indirect or direct contact with animal or human feces. Once fresh produce has been contaminated, removing or killing the microbial pathogens is very difficult. Prevention of microbial contamination at all steps in the journey from farm-to-table is preferable to treatment to eliminate contamination after it has occurred. In order to educate yourself, please read the following chapter from the USFDA with regard to Safe Practices for food processes: “Chapter V. Methods to Reduce/Eliminate Pathogens from Produce and Fresh-Cut Produce”, specifically the SCOPE and Section 2. Intervention methods. “Chlorine has been used for sanitation purposes in food processing for several decades and is perhaps the most widely used sanitizer in the food industry.” Since most fresh fruits and vegetables are grown in fields and orchards that are non-sterile environments, including the use of manure as a fertility ingredient, FDA and USDA have issued guidance on good agricultural practices (GAPs) for the produce industry. The guide addresses microbial food safety hazards and good agricultural and management practices common to the growing, harvesting, washing, sorting, packing, and transporting of most fruits and vegetables sold to consumers in an unprocessed or minimally processed (raw) form. Even fruits & vegetables grown in your backyard can become contaminated with pathogens through manure (for example through fertilization practices or run off contamination) and water (for example, irrigation water) so don’t think by avoiding any store bought produce you are doing yourself any favors.

  6. I did juice baby carrots once and the juice tasted nasty, not even close to regular carrots juiced. I am sure it was chlorine that affected the taste of it and I will never use baby carrots again.

  7. Thank you so much, Lisa! You have such a great perspective on food. I love how you strive to inform while balancing that with “not living in a bubble”. Giving my finicky teen baby carrots and home-made ranch after school is much healthier than giving her the little orange fishy crackers!

  8. I was surprised to read that they wouldn’t provide pictures. I saw one of those “How it’s done” shows and they showed the process that baby carrots go through. It’s a simple process and doesn’t deter me from buying them, but I grow my own carrots and don’t mind cutting and peeling them.

      1. Hi there! All the seeds (organic or not) are NOT GMO seeds. A baby carrot is derived from full grown carrots (the one’s you are used to seeing). The baby carrot is cut and rounded to the desired site of the baby carrots. This is not a product of waste from the carrot, but instead it is a product made for convenience!

    1. There are no GMO seeds used to produce carrots or other normal vegetables at this time. Corn, soybeans, rice, and canola are the commonly used GMO’s out there. Monsanto shelved their GMO veggie program because it is not economically viable at this time.

  9. Really appreciate all the leg work you did on this, especially regarding chlorine. Wish we could see some pics of the processing, but as you pointed out, it’s proprietary.

  10. I just bought a bag of baby peeled carrots (as I often do) for a healthy snack. I opened the bag on Sunday and put 20 or so in a ziplock bag to take with me and munch while I drove. When I arrived at my destination with all my carrots consumed I checked the mirror before jumping out of the car to see if there was any bits in my teeth and much to my horror and surprise my back chompers were STAINED orange (both uppers and lowers, it wouldn’t “rub” off either)! I couldn’t believe it. The stains remained for 4 hours and after I ate dinner and checked again they were gone. This is what led me to google baby carrots today. Is this normal? What have they done to the carrots? I was in shock and don’t recall ever getting orange stains before on my teeth. Any ideas?

    1. My hands are always stained orange after peeling and cutting a normal (not baby) carrot, so this staining is just what carrots do, it;s because of the juice the carrots lets off. No worries :)

  11. I purchase baby/mini carrots as treats for my small dog. He LOVES them and they are good for him. But, as a “treat”, I give them sparingly, therefore, they do tend to start this “turning white” process, as has been described in the article, long before I have come close to using them up. To toss them if they are bad is most certainly not a problem; however, to toss them if they are still perfectly good and will not harm my pet, then that is the clarification I am seeking??? Also, I take them out of the plastic bag they come in and put them in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge. They never smell bad nor even get limp even after a few weeks- just look a little less than fresh with the white residue on them. I would just like a clarification on how long I can safely keep them before having to toss them.

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. If you refer back to the article regarding concerns about the “white” that appears: “This happens because, according to Grimmway, even though the carrots have been pulled out of the ground and peeled they are still living roots so they sometimes turn white to create a new protective outer layer. They said this does not change the nutritional value or affect the food safety of the carrots…frankly it just isn’t pretty (and it could sometimes mean the carrots will taste a little dried out). Putting those carrots in a bowl of ice water will help bring back the bright orange color if it concerns you.” And regarding shelf life, carrots should be okay kept in your fridge for up to three weeks.

  12. When we had an above-ground pool, we treated it with chlorine added to “tap” water — so how would that have less chlorine?

  13. Thanks for clearing up the fact that “baby” carrots are not “young” carrots. The name is very misleading for the vast majority of consumers. I am surprised that they are allowed to be marketed under that name.

  14. Frequently I find myself in discussions (sometimes heated) with my sister regarding healthy eating and foods. She tends to believe Mercola like a Guru. I take my info sources with a grain of salt.
    I am so disgusted of hearing and receiving bad and or incorrect information. I try to make her see that she is part of the problem for trying to get me to believe Mercola’s comment. So many people
    pass the incorrect information thus adding to the problem.

    Thank you for going that extra mile looking into the “baby carrot caper”. I was able to hit my sister with a shame on Dr. Mercola comment not to have been substantiated.

  15. I am constantly in turmoil with my sister and healthy foods.
    Yes I know there are many evils out there but I am tired of hearing
    what’s white is black and what’s black is white.
    I’m not a uneducated person but enough is enough!
    Thank you for going that extra mile looking into the “baby carrot caper”. I was able to hit my sister with a shame on Dr. Mercola comment not to have been substantiated.

  16. I agree with Carol Ann. I don’t buy baby carots because they have no taste and are too crunchy for my taste. And, California carots seem to taste the sweetest.

  17. Personally I have given up on buying baby carrots as they are tasteless compared to the larger variety. They seem to lack the sweetness of the regular carrots and if roasted do not have enough sugar to give the sweetness i really like. So I will always select the older carrots over the baby variety every time.

    1. Most of the time, harder textured, less flavored carrot varieties are used in Cello (whole carrots) to prevent cracking so you’re better off with baby carrots for better texture and flavor. Or buy Nantes types. They usually have the best flavor.

  18. My husband is a plumber, and the reason you can smell the Clorine only sometimes, is when the Clorine is eating the bacteria in the pool, like poop and urine. That’s the only reason why. So when you smell it, it’s a good thing, because it is working to disinfect the pool. At pools where you can’t smell it is good to, because it’s my eating much bacteria.

    1. Allison Stephens

      Thanks for sharing. Yuck. Spent 53 yrs in medical field & not one day went by w/o encountering poop. Thanks for the memories.

  19. I worked for a municipal water company and was told that yes if you can smell chlorine then there is not enough. Just wanted to verify some of your info. Love your blog by the way. Really helping me eat a better way

  20. I’ve read from a few sources (books and articles) that baby carrots do not contain the same nutritional value as say a regular table carrot because it’s basically a premature carrot. In my opinion, cutting a carrot up is worth it when adding extra nutrition to my family’s meal.

    1. We have grown heirloom baby carrots in our garden. They are a type of carrot, not a premature carrot. There are all different sizes, shapes and colors of carrots (even purple ones!) that are all heirloom.

      1. I didn’t think we were discussing heirlooms here though. I understand the beauty and differences heirlooms display. I’ll post the reading I’m referring to shortly to clarify my precious comment. Thank you for your input though 😊

  21. When I have a bath with tap water, my skin does not smell of chlorine, yes when I swim in the city swimming pool, my skin smells of chlorine for days….
    That leads me to believe that there must be more chlorine in a pool…

  22. Thanks so much for the post.
    As a mom who wants to provide healthy snacks but stops at growing and raising everything we eat–things like peeled carrots are a Godsend. I could even buy raw organic carrots but am I going to peel them and cut them? nope.

    Some moms may call it lazy, but for me it works.

  23. Why not use food grade hydrogen peroxide to clean their carrots?

    The dairy and egg industry switched to hydrogen peroxide decades ago and most food processing plants use it – I wonder why the carrot people use chlorine? Especially as it actually does NOT do the job hydrogen peroxide does to really destroy any pathogens…

    I eat baby carrots from my garden, and I don’t rinse them in chlorinated tap water because there is no chlorine in my well water. The ‘acceptable’ levels of chlorine are just more of the same ignorance the FDA has been spewing to keep the chlorine industry in good shape for over 100 years. Chlorine is another one of the weaons of war turned into a household consumable. It’s an old established pattern in this ‘consumer’ culture born out of the late 19th and early 20th century and marketed to us by the father of propaganda, Edward Bernays and his disciples.

    Oh, and, just in passing, once you do real research into the status quo and how it is maintained and from where it derives, you will indeed recognize that Snopes, like Wikipedia, is just a mirror of the lowest common denominator of what is considered the ‘generally accepted reality’. It is not an authority on anything except how rigidly the human spirit is marshaled into conformity in the modern age. ;) Open the box, step ouside…

    1. thank you, Becky! It truly grinds my nerves when I see anyone using ‘Snopes’ as a response to something controversial or questionable. Snopes people don’t know everything and truly are not experts …are biased most of the time. If I see anyone quoting them, I roll my eyes and move on. ha ha

  24. You can’t soak anything in pure chlorine. Chlorine in its elemental form is a gas.. and extraordinarily toxic gas. There’s no chance in hell that any food manufacturing process would use pure chlorine. Any sort of “chlorine” that is in water and various other chemical additives would be the ionic form of chlorine, Cl-, or possibly the perchlorate ion ClO4-, or hypochlorite ClO-, etc. The chloride ion, Cl- is the same ion that is in table salt. Varying chlorine ions have varying degrees of toxicity but nothing like elemental chlorine. Ions of an element always have dramatically different physical, chemical, and physiological properties, so everyone that is losing their minds over things being covered in chlorine (or any other element) need to shut up and learn some science.

    1. I agree with you, I am also a chemist. It truly blows my mind when I hear crazy misinformation about regular everyday chemicals. If people are so scared of chlorine, then they better stay away from the huge chloride filled ocean and stop eating salt completely.

  25. I have avoided baby carrots because I was told at an educational convention that they grow the carrots with red 40. Have you come upon any truth to that?

    1. Yes, I believe that’s true about just about all fruits and veggies – the skin or peel is the most nutritious part. If it’s palatable, I try to always eat the peel

  26. Thank you for pointing out that the “baby cut” carrots are a different variety than table carrots. Personally, I like the taste and texture of the baby ones for snacking, and buy the table ones for cooking. If I could buy the “baby cut” variety in their natural state, I might consider it, but they don’t sell them that way so I buy them the way they come. I guess it’s like if, for some reason, they only sold Granny Smith apples already sliced in a bag. As much as some people might want to say that an apple is an apple and just buy the Red Delicious in their “natural state,” if I wanted Granny Smith, I’d get them pre-sliced in a bag if I had to!

  27. Thank you for being so honest and reliable. You could have written a blog based on other blogs, website publishing, or even research (not that I find that wrong). Instead, you took the time to do your own research to provide the best information possible from the primary source. I love your integrity in taking those extra steps. Even if they lied to you (not that they did), you have my upmost respect. Thank you again!