Friday, February 12, 2010

Orange Dyed Oranges

Back in California, winter was orange season. Starting sometime around November you could buy big onion bags of them at farmers' markets and grocery stores absurdly cheap - and they were all great quality. Unfortunately, eating oranges in the Northeast always seems to be a gristly, horrible experience.*

Luckily, even dime-store mandarins always seem to be good. I was disgusted though as I peeled the first fruit of a new box (of the CA "Cutie" brand not Spanish "Clementines"). I removed the peel to find the normally white albedo layer distinctly orange - a supposed sign of artificial dye - though the edible part was sweeter and more tender than most.

I spent a long time on the Internet trying to find out if this was normal coloring for this variety or gross makeup and seemed to settle on three possible conclusions.
  1. The FDA banned fruit dyes a decade or so ago
  2. The FDA now requires added coloring to be listed as an ingredient
  3. Florida and Texas dye their fruit but California fruit change color naturally
The ingredients only list waxes, which I don't care about and I wouldn't expect would change the color. Anyone out there know anything about this?

I really know nothing about citrus, but it's a pretty fascinating group of fruit - with very different ripening biology than the plants I'm used to. I've read some good books revolving around apples and stone fruits. Anyone know of any good citrus ones?

*as a biased student of California Ag, I blame Florida!

35 comments:

  1. I hate fruit dye. it's really bad on apples here. The green ones are completely covered in a waxy green. It washes off under hot water leaving a very pale green apple with several red portions. Ridiculous. Just leave it alone.

    Orange dye going through the peel would really bother be. Hopefully it's normal for that variety.

    ReplyDelete
  2. How are numbers 1 and 3 not contradictory?

    ReplyDelete
  3. They are! That was my (attempted) point. I found no authoritative answer to my question, just various websites claiming that one of the three choices was the "correct" one. I'm stumped!

    My best guess is that fruit dying remains legal so long as legal dyes are used and recorded on the packaging...

    ReplyDelete
  4. When I was little my dad claimed that they dyed oranges orange, and that their natural color was yellow. I thought he was full of crap....but could it be so, at least for some sadder varieties?

    ReplyDelete
  5. You might check out
    Citrus, a history
    Pierre Laszlo

    ReplyDelete
  6. I came across this looking for orange (the fruit) dye as well, and maybe I can shed some light. We've been buying a lot of Cuties mandarins in the past few months. Sometimes, especially when they are smaller, they seem completely normal and are really good. But other, larger batches don't taste as good - and they are unnaturally orange inside (the usually white areas). I don't know if they come from different seasons (thus the bigger size), alternate farms who use difference processes, or different states, but one thing is for sure - some of these are getting dyed.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have eaten a lot of small oranges in different countries over the past 6 years (Ukraine - mandarines came from Georgia, and China) and none of them had that orange coloring under the skin. I think it must be dye....I don't like it. I threw mine away and won't buy anymore. :(

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yeah, I just bought a big bag of Mandarines and was a little freaked out by the normally white pith being a VERY orange color and knew it must be dye. Think it can't really be good for you unless they are using vegetable based dyes.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hopefully someone who knows what's going on will stumble across this thread. If there are dyes, the FDA's approved them as "safe," for what it's worth.

    I wouldn't hesitate to buy a brand of greenish oranges if they were reliably good.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I went to the source--Cuties themselves and posed the question. This is their reply:

    Thank you for your inquiry.

    Cuties are not dyed. The color you see is a natural occurrence.

    We enjoy hearing from our customers. Please continue to visit our web site for new and exciting information and activities. And remember to Root for the Li’l Guy!

    Cuties Citrus
    www.cutiescitrus.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Been eating them for years and have NEVER seen them have an ORANGE pith....I am not eating them.

      Delete
  11. good job mike and susie!

    thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Citrus Red 2" is a dye used to make oranges orange or at least orang er, if thats a word?

    Citrus Red 2 is banned in most of the world because it is a known carcinogen. However, the FDA allows its use in oranges, justifying the dye never permeates the peel into the orange itself.

    Bon Appetite!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is crazy-I eat some of the rind -it is supposed to be good for you!

      Delete
  13. I too was disgusted when I bought some cuties and saw orange color under the peel. I'm not really 100% comfortable with cuties own explanation and would rather see some other source documenting this natural occurrence. And as a Floridian, I'm annoyed to hear about Florida dying their oranges too. Does that apply to Oraganics as well?

    ReplyDelete
  14. I don't know if there are organic dyes, but I wouldn't be surprised.

    At any rate, it's normal for some citrus to be colored under the peel, so I take Cuties Citrus at their word. These things are highly regulated in the US anyway - companies can't just lie about their products.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I have a major problem with this. The dye never permeates the peel.

    Would about if you use the peel. They should have a big warning label on the oranges to not eat the peel.

    I use the zest of oranges in many recipes. Now I know to get organic oranges if I am going to use the zest.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ran across this post, as I recently bought a box of clementines that have an unusually orange color inside the peel. Wondering if they are dyed. I think they are Chilean clementines, now I plan to go home and look at the box.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The conclusion appears to be that tangerines aren't dyed, but some varieties are orange inside the peel.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I grew up in the central valley of CA where navels, valencias, and mandarines/tangerines are grown, packed and shipped. I even worked in the packing facilities and out and the farms for summer work. I can tell you no CA citrus is dyed.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I just ate a suspicious grapefruit!
    Which is my favorite citrus. It had a sticky label that indicated it was a RUBY and the outer peel was a blush pink, the inside peel was a light pink also. but the center of the fruit was white turning pinkish toward the outer margin. But definitely not a Ruby grapefruit color that I have ever seen.
    hmmm,. wondering if it was dyed.
    I'm in my mid fifties and I can remember when grapefruit was SO sour consistently that you had to put sugar on it. Now grapefruits are so sweet you can eat them like oranges. Which isn't a bad thing exactly, as I do love grapefruit.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Page oranges are a hybrid of honeybell oranges and clementines. they are almost unnaturally orange on the outside and the pith is orange instead of white.

    ReplyDelete
  21. See this post on Cuties' facebook page:
    http://www.facebook.com/Cuties/posts/333644406261

    ReplyDelete
  22. more on it: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/design/2012/02/designing-the-perfect-fruit/

    ReplyDelete
  23. Picked up some Ocean Spray clementines from Target the other day. Peeled one and the pith was orangish. Origin was Chile and google led me here, seemingly the only post on the internet on this subject.

    After reading this and many other pages about all the different citrus fruits that are labeled/sold as 'clementines' I occurred to me the closest fruit to what I have is the murcott or 'honey tangerine' and apparently they are known to have orange insides.

    Additional Info:
    On the bag was printed 'Coated with food grade vegi, beeswax, and/or lac based wax or resin to maintain freshness. May be treated with one or more of the following: thiabendazole, ortho phenylphenol, and/or imazalil.'

    thiabendazole - Fungicide, Parasiticide
    phenylphenol - agricultural fungicide
    imazalil - fungicide for citrus fruits

    Yummy!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I just found a sticker (not stuck) inside the bottom of a case of oranges. The sticker has "ALWAYS FRESH COLOR ADDED U.S #1 2676". I found the sticker while moving a bag that had a moldy orange in it. Oh, the mold on the orange was green but the orange under the mold was still orange. I didn't look to see where the oranges were grown.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have seen the worriesome orange pith on Waitrose (UK) organic tangerines purchased Feb 2013. Variety Nadorcott, grown in Spain, unwaxed. It would be nice to know if the orange-tinged pith was a natural characteristic of the fruit. That appears to be possible, after reading this. Thanks to all - -

    ReplyDelete
  26. The center of the Cuties we just bought looks like a white mold beginning to form. The outside is not soft, peels easily and the inside looks normal. I have cut away the center but there seems to be an after taste...or my imagination. Are the centers usually like this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd say no... Not normal. I've had apples that have been perfect on the outside & moldy in where the seeds are so it's possible! I've never seen mold inside oranges... Just the white inner "core" - thingy that I pull off.

      Delete
  27. People. Don't trust the FDA for a second.

    ReplyDelete
  28. So like many others, a google search after digging into a clementine with orange pith led me here.

    I just went and got label as I hadn't paid much attn when I bought them, and they are Cuties. Label declares "Coated with food grade vegi, beeswax, and/or lac based wax or resin to maintain freshness." It does NOT have anything additional about any other additives.

    The fruit itself was a bit tart, more-so than I expect form a clementine, but not inedible. While the inside of the peel is a pretty consistent orange shade, the veins seem more concentrated. The pith in the center of the fruit is closer to white, but the veins inside are markedly more orange. This implies to me that the coloring came from the tree. Whether it is natural for this particular variety or something from the water/fertilizer, I have no idea.

    Thanks for making this post, though. It's the first time I've ever come across this as well, and I usually go thru 2 or 3 boxes of clementines in a season.

    re: the Feb 23rd post about the "white mold" I think that's just the natural appearance of the pith around the primary veins in the core, but - you know, the two I just had also have something of an aftertaste...

    ReplyDelete
  29. I contacted the company that sells Cuties and they confirmed they don't use any dye at all. The orange colored albedo is characteristic of these oranges. The only thing they add is a light coat of wax to protect the fruit.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I just tried googling chemical taste in halo's, (previously known as cuties), and like so many, wound up here. The company is the same, but I read they are now using at LEAST two different farmers for this, so who knows what's really being put in them. I can tell you I never had a cutie taste like this. This is the second bag of 'halo's' that we've bought and both have been easy to peel, but once you've peeled them, the outside of the orange has many dents like it's lost moisture, or is old. (Hence being so easy to peel, the interior was already coming away from the rind.) This was a DISTINCTLY chemical taste, which I know can happen naturally in some fruits, such as cantaloupe, which can get a nail polish taste...but I'm concerned b/c I've never tasted this chemical before. (Not in cuties, or any other fruit for that matter.) I spit it out immediately, so I didn't have a lot of time to really figure out what it reminded me of. The only thing I immediately thought was 'I don't know what chemical that is!?' and spit it out. I know I've never tasted that before, it was very weird...I hate that I can't trust my own government to properly regulate our food. I buy my dog food in CANADA b/c USA regulations permit euthanized animal renderings to be included in their food...casually labeled as 'meat' or 'meal'...be very weary, go ahead and put the word 'mystery' in front of that....gross.

    ReplyDelete
  31. The conclusion appears to be that tangerines aren't dyed, but some varieties are orange inside the peel.
    Thanks for sharing it here!

    ReplyDelete

Share!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails