Should You Wash Bananas Before Peeling Them? Experts Weigh In

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.18 - 2024 8:31 PM CET

Do bananas need to be washed before peeling?

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A surprising debate has erupted on TikTok over whether bananas need to be washed before being peeled, sparking widespread discussion and confusion.

The controversy began with a TikTok video showing a character from the TV series "Klan" washing bananas, leading viewers to question their own practices.

So, what do the experts say?

The Case for Washing Bananas

According to Tamika Sims, a safety expert at The International Food Information Council, washing thick-skinned fruits like bananas is essential, even if you plan to peel them before eating.

In an interview with HuffPost, Sims states that washing helps minimize the risk of transferring contaminants from the peel to the fruit inside. This practice is crucial for preventing the spread of microbes, such as salmonella or campylobacter, which are not visible to the naked eye but can cause foodborne illnesses.

Why Washing Matters

While many might think the thick peel protects the edible fruit inside, the process of peeling can transfer dirt and microbes from the outside to the inside. Unwashed bananas can contaminate other surfaces or foods, particularly those with edible peels like apples or tomatoes. Pesticides and preservatives on the peel, though not penetrating deep into the fruit, can also end up being ingested indirectly through our hands or utensils.

Proper Washing Techniques

For fruits and vegetables, including bananas, the recommended method is to rinse them under running water. Using chemical detergents is a no-go as they can penetrate the fruit, leading to potential poisoning. For a deeper clean, particularly for fruits where the peel is consumed, such as citrus, a wash with warm water and a brush is advisable, followed by a quick scald in boiling water.

To thoroughly clean bananas:

  • Give them a bath in an acidic solution (1 liter of water mixed with half a glass of vinegar) followed by an alkaline solution (1 liter of water with one heaping tablespoon of baking soda).

  • Rinse the bananas under running water after these baths.

The practice of washing bananas, although it may seem unnecessary due to their thick peel, is a recommended food safety measure. This simple step can significantly reduce the risk of foodborne diseases and ensure that contaminants do not transfer from the peel to the edible part of the fruit or to other foods and surfaces.

As the debate continues online, the consensus among food safety experts remains clear: washing bananas before peeling is not just beneficial; it’s advisable.

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