Baking powder removes up to 96 percent of pesticides from fruit and vegetables, new research reveals.
When mixed with water and gently rubbed on apple skins, the kitchen staple eliminates nearly all the reside left by two commonly-applied pesticides within 15 minutes, a study found.
This method is more effective than the standard procedure of applying a type of bleach to the fruit for two minutes, the research adds.
Previous research reveals baking powder breaks down pesticides due to its highly-alkaline pH, which causes the chemicals to fragment into harmless molecules.
Lead author Dr Lili He from the University of Massachusetts, said: '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.
How the research was carried out
The researchers applied the common pesticides thiabendazole, which has been shown to penetrate apple skin, and phosmet to organic red apples.
These pesticides were left on the fruit for one day.
The researchers then washed the apples with either tap water, a bleach solution often applied to produce or one percent baking powder mixed with water.
Electronic mapping technology was used to assess pesticide presence on the surface of, and inside, the apples.
Baking powder removes up to 96% of pesticides
Results reveal baking powder mixed with water is the most effective way of removing pesticides from apples.
After 12 minutes of gentle scrubbing, the baking powder solution removes 80 percent of thiabendazole, while it takes 15 minutes to remove 96 percent of phosmet.
Thiabendazole is thought to be more difficult to remove due to it more readily penetrating fruit's surfaces.
Previous research reveals baking powder breaks down pesticides due to its highly-alkaline pH, which causes the chemicals to fragment into small, harmless molecules.
The standard post-harvest method of applying bleach to apples' skins was ineffective at removing all of the pesticides' residue from the fruit's surface.
Peeling apples helps to remove pesticides that have penetrated the fruit, however, this will also reduce its nutritional content, according to the researchers.
The findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
'Concerns about hazards of pesticides have increased'
Dr He said: 'The use of pesticides in agriculture has led to an increase in farm productivity.
'However, 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.'
'The results showed that the baking powder solution was most effective in removing thiabendazole and phosmet on and in apples.
'The standard post-harvest washing method with bleach solution and a two-minute wash did not effectively remove these pesticides.'
BAKING POWDER'S MANY USES
The kitchen staple can be used for:
- Freshening breath - mix one tsp in a glass of water for a mouthwash replacement
- Exfoliating skin - mix one part baking powder to three parts water and rub in circular motions
- Cleaning carpets - sprinkle on floors overnight and vacuum the following day
- Getting whiter clothes - add one small cup to a wash along with standard detergent
- Removing stubborn stains from pans - shake a generous amount into pans, before adding hot water and washing up liquid. Leave to sit for 15 minutes
- Keeping bins and litter trays fresh - sprinkle onto smelly surfaces
- Easing heartburn - add half a teaspoon to 50ml of water for a natural antacid