Baby Carrots – Myth and Facts

“Is it safe to eat baby carrots that have a white film on the outside?” This was a question from an AnswerLine caller who had read on social media that the white film was a chlorine residue from processing that could cause cancer.  This is an internet myth that has been making the rounds for years.

True facts.  The white film on baby carrots is safe.  It is little more than white blush which is a thin layer of dehydrated carrot.  The film develops when the baby carrots are exposed to air and the outside becomes dry.  Baby carrots do not have a protective skin to prevent them from drying.  Most baby carrots are cut and shaped from larger deformed carrots really making them baby ‘cut’ carrots.  According to a researcher at McGill University ”moisture loss from the carrot surface roughens the outer membranes causing light to scatter which in turn results in a whitish appearance.”

While it is true that carrots may be rinsed in a dilute solution of chlorine to rid bacteria, this has nothing to do with white blush.  Instead of representing a cancer health hazard, carrot processing with chlorinated water is a health-protective step recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration to prevent foodborne outbreaks. The amount of chlorine used in processing is many levels below the allowable limit for drinking water.1  Prior to packaging, the little carrots go through a plain tap water rinse.

If white blush is undesirable for fresh carrot eating, they are still great for cooking.  Besides showing white blush, baby carrots may also get rubbery if packages are not sealed. Rubbery carrots are safe to eat and may be used for cooking should they not make great snacks.  Finally, baby carrots that go beyond rubbery to soft and slimy should be tossed.

Here’s some great baby-carrot storage facts from StillTasty.com

  • How long do baby carrots last? The precise answer to that question depends to a large extent on storage conditions – keep baby carrots refrigerated.
  • To maximize the shelf life of baby carrots, refrigerate in covered container or re-sealable plastic bag or wrap tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
  • How long do baby carrots last in the fridge? Properly stored, baby carrots will last for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Can you freeze baby carrots? Yes, to freeze: (1) Blanch (plunge into boiling water) baby carrots for two minutes and chill quickly in ice cold water; (2) Drain off excess moisture, package in airtight containers or freezer bags and freeze immediately.
  • Frozen baby carrots will soften when thawed and are best used in cooked dishes.
  • How long do baby carrots last in the freezer? Properly stored, they will maintain best quality for about 12 to 18 months, but will remain safe beyond that time.
  • The freezer time shown is for best quality only – carrots that have been kept constantly frozen at 0°F will keep safe indefinitely.
  • How to tell if baby carrots are bad or spoiled? The best way is to smell and look at the baby carrots: discard any carrots that have an off smell or appearance; if mold appears, discard the baby carrots.

So put the internet myth to rest and enjoy your baby carrots!

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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30 thoughts on “Baby Carrots – Myth and Facts

  1. Sooo my baby carrots were super slimy and gooey but I just bought them so I just rinsed them to get the slime and goop away and then ate them. I am realizing now these are what you consider to be bad and should be thrown out. I am wondering if I am going to die now because I ate them. Please let me know, thanks.

  2. Hi, Yes, you are correct. These are what we would consider bad. The slime and goop are actually a layer of bacteria growing on the carrots. If the you are going to get sick from eating them it should happen in the next 48 hours. Likely you will be fine, but in the future I would discard them if they are slimy and goopy.

  3. I read to put the baby carrots in water to keep them fresh. I have to seal the container because my fridge is too small to leave it open. Now you’re saying to just keep them I’m a sealed container. No water necessary?

  4. Hi Terri. Our recommendation is to store baby carrots or any cut carrot in a covered container or resealable plastic bag or wrap tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

  5. Reading these comments, I have three questions about baby carrots. 1) Is leaving them in the resealable bag they come in a good storage method? 2) If I just bought the carrots and they are only “slightly slimy” is it okay to peel the outside layer off and eat them? 3) Regarding freezing, do I remove them from the bag they come in and put them in a “resealable plastic bag or wrap tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap”?
    Thank you

  6. Raine,
    1) It is fine to leave baby carrots in the resealable bag they came in, in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. If the bag cannot be resealed, then we recommend storing in a covered container, resealable plastic bag, or wrap tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator crisper drawer.
    2) Slimy carrots indicate spoilage and should not be eaten as they may pose a health risk.
    3) Carrots must be blanched before freezing. Follow this link for correct steps in freezing carrots: https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/carrot.html#:~:text=Cut%20others%20into%20thin%20slices,Seal%20and%20freeze. Thanks for your questions.

  7. I used to be suggested this web site by way of my cousin. I’m not positive
    whether or not this submit is written by means of him as nobody else realize such certain about my
    difficulty. You are amazing! Thank you!

  8. What if you put slimmy. Carrots in a cake? They cook for about 35 min at 350* will you get sick?

  9. Hi, so should I actively seek out baby carrots that seem “dry” in the package rather than the ones that have water in the package?

  10. Melissa, When purchasing baby carrots, check the “use by” date on the package and purchase as fresh of a package as possible. The wetness in the bag is normal (unless it seems excessive). It’s actually filtered tap water that helps keep the vegetable hydrated. Dry carrots are more likely to exhibit white blush quicker than those that have a little moisture. Using them as quickly as possible is best but definitely within 30 days after the packaging date.

  11. Tracy, If the carrots are truly flacid and slimy, they should not be used for any purpose–not even for making carrot cake. Carrots at this stage are spoiled and should be disposed. Baking or cooking does not make spoiled produce safe; in fact, in some cases heat can enhance the toxic effects of the microorganisms causing spoilage making the cooked or baked food more of a food safety problem than the source.

  12. Thank you for the information. I, too, was just rinsing off the slime. Now I know better. Questions: Is vegetable spray effective in cleaning the carrots, or any produce for that matter? Also, when freezing, is it helpful to lay on parchment lined cookie sheet after blanching before bagging, or will they get too dry? Thank you in advance.

  13. Sherry, thank you for your inquiries. Neither the USDA or the FDA recommend washing fruits and vegetables with the vegetables washes. The recommendation is to wash thoroughly under cold, drinkable running water using a vegetable brush. Per the USDA publication “The FDA advises
    against using commercial produce washes because the safety of their residues has not been evaluated and their effectiveness has not been tested or standardized.”
    Yes, freezing blanched vegetables on a cookie or baking sheet (with or without parchment paper) before packaging works great. The vegetables not only freeze quickly, but are much easier to use later. This method known as dry pack freezing is as close to flash freezing and bagging used in industry as can be done at home. It only takes a short time (2-3 hrs) to freeze the vegetable or fruit pieces so while there might be some drying, it does not noticeably affect the quality. As soon as the vegetable or fruit pieces are firm, remove them with a scraper, package, and re-freeze quickly. If drying is a concern, one could cover them.

  14. I bought two bags of baby-cut carrots and mistakenly left them on the kitchen counter for about 17 hours. When I found them, they were still a little cool but not cold. (Because it’s winter, the house is a little cooler anyway) The bags are sealed tight (never opened) and there’s the regular amount of moisture inside the bag. I put them in the refrigerator immediately but I wonder if they are OK to eat? Normally, I might just toss them and go back to the store but during COVID, I don’t want to make that extra trip.

  15. Heather, thank you for contacting AnswerLine. The USDA recommendation is to toss fresh cut vegetables after two hours at room temperature. I’ll let you make the call.

  16. Hi,
    I have baby carrots that says Nov 2020 is best used by. It’s been in fridge this whole time.
    It’s still crunchy and not slimy at all.
    I smelled and even ate one and nothing seems off.
    I saw it still should be used within a month, is this still ok to use??

  17. Marina, thank you for contacting AnswerLine. If you are not seeing or smelling anything suspicious, the carrots are likely good and should be used as quickly as possible.

  18. I had some baby carrot with a whitefish almost silky outside . I was told they were okay as long as they were not soft . A few seemed soft and I threw them out . There were none with dark spots and there was no smell. They were in fridge original bag maybe a little longer than they should have been . I cut them up in a stew (crock pot )
    Should have tossed them ?? Should I toss the stew ??

  19. Hi John. When baby carrots are going bad they will soften but they can also get a slimy texture which is a sign of decay. Any slimy vegetable should be thrown away. When you say there was no smell that is a good sign. If they had a white on the outside it may have been due to a lack of moisture. Carrots are a root vegetable and if they dry out they get a whitish color on the outside. If they were put in water in your refrigerature the white typically would go away because they would be rehydrated.

  20. I bought a bag of organic peeled baby carrots and I checked the expiration date and it had about a week remaining. The carrots were slimy and not very crunchy. I love carrots but this was not an enjoyable experience! 90 minutes after eating at least 10 carrots, unbelievable stomach cramps and diarrhea with blood occurred and continue for a while. I am not sure if I sure call the grocery or the manufacturer or the FDA.

  21. Kathy, so sorry for your experience with foodborne illness. Call your local or county public health department. Reporting foodborne illness is critical in order to discover patterns of outbreaks and ensure safety of the food supply. If it isn’t too late, save the carrots. Label “dangerous” and freeze. Also save any packaging or containers. And I don’t think it would hurt to also call store of purchase. Food Safety.gov also has guidelines for reporting. In the future, “when in doubt, throw it out.” Foodborne illness is a very serious matter.

  22. I ate slimy baby carrots that had a white residue on them. I understand this is bad and I did not know this until after I ate it. What kind of disease/health problem could this cause? From my understanding, the carrots were decaying so could I get some kind of disease from the bacteria/decay like e.Coli, parasites, or anything else? Is there something I should watch out for or do

  23. Sarah, I’m sorry for this mishap. Likely the slimy carrots will only cause some digestive upset. If it is something more than that and does not pass quickly, please contact your health care professional or First Nurse to discuss the issue and the symptoms you are experiencing. Take care.

  24. Hello. I live in Arizona. Baby carrots stored in the refrigerator dry out unbelievably fast, even when stored in sealed plastic bags and kept in the crisper drawer. I tried storing them with damp paper towels, but that did not help. I then put them in a pyrex bowl, filled it with water, put the lid on, and stored the bowl on a shelf in the refrigerator. The carrots have remained hydrated. They look normal and taste fine. But, I am concerned that this might not be a safe way to store them. It’s hard to tell if a vegetable is slimy if it’s stored in water. Is there a better, safer way to store baby carrots that would still give them the hydration they need? Thank you.

  25. Hi Jane, storing carrots in water is acceptable. You will want to change the water every 4-5 days, however. With frequent water changes, they will last and be safe for quite awhile assuming that they were fresh from the start. You will know when they are slimy; slimy is way different than wet and the water will be cloudy. Thanks for your question.

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