Do Water And Baking Soda Disinfect Fruit And Vegetables? No, Here's The Scientific Explanation

Washing fruit and vegetables by immersing them in water and baking soda helps clean them, but it doesn't disinfect them: it's a false myth. Let's see together why and what are the correct methods to disinfect fruit and vegetables.

Do Water And Baking Soda Disinfect Fruit And Vegetables? No, Here's The Scientific Explanation

How many times have we heard to soak fruit and vegetables in water and baking soda to disinfect them ? Well, that's definitely not true: it's a hoax . There is no valid scientific evidence that demonstrates the disinfectant power of a solution of water and bicarbonate. In this article, let's see together what is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting and what is useful to do to ensure a reduced bacterial load on fruit and vegetables.

Difference between cleaning and disinfecting

Before understanding what it is sufficient to use to reduce bacterial contamination on the surface of fruit and vegetables, let's see what " disinfect " means and the difference with " clean ".

"To clean" means to purge and remove  dirt . In our case, the dirt from fruit and vegetables can be represented by soil, pebbles and small unwanted insects.

"Disinfect", on the other hand, means the elimination (almost complete, or at least 99.99%) of all those microorganisms that can cause infections, with consequent diseases.

Often, there are several recommendations on the labels of baking soda packages , including that of cleaning fruits and vegetables with water and a tablespoon of water and baking soda. Some brands, however, carry the phrase "bicarbonate does not perform a disinfectant action ".

Consequently, if our goal was to reduce the bacterial load on fruit and vegetables, soaking them in water and baking soda is practically useless , except to remove dirt.

Only one study has demonstrated the effectiveness of baking soda to disinfect a steel surface from Feline Calicivirus contamination . Understand well, however, that if we were to change the microorganism or surface to be disinfected, things can change. In fact, there is no scientific evidence demonstrating the generic disinfectant action of sodium bicarbonate for fruit and vegetables: in another study, the total ineffectiveness of bicarbonate in reducing the bacterial load of Salmonella enterica on spinach was demonstrated . Many other scientific researches have deliberately excluded sodium bicarbonate, because it is known that it has no disinfectant properties.

What to use to disinfect fruits and vegetables

If you want to reduce the risk of contamination from Toxoplasma , Norovirus , Hepatitis A Virus and Listeria monocytogenes , it is sufficient and necessary to rinse the fruit and vegetables well under running water , brushing the peel if possible. Leaving it to soak in water is not recommended : if, for example, the skin of a pear were to be contaminated, it would spread the microorganism to all the rest of the fruit and vegetables as well. For added safety, it may be helpful to use chlorine -based products (sodium hypochlorite).

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