Why It's Not Worth It To Buy Pre-Cut Citrus Fruits

If you're in need of a juicy kick of vitamin C to boost your immune system, you may be tempted to buy the carefully packaged, pre-cut citrus fruits at your grocery store. It can be a convenient alternative to purchasing a variety of fruits and chopping each one yourself. Whether you're using them to toss into a creamy fruit salad or are just looking for a healthy snack that's ready to be devoured at will, choosing pre-sliced fruit seems like an easy no-brainer. But if you're a financial, environmental, or health-conscious consumer, you should never buy pre-cut fruit and vegetables

When this time-saver started showing up on store shelves more frequently, some retailers began to realize that there was a huge storage issue compared to whole fruit and other produce. "For every five packs that are sold, we found that we were throwing away ten, since the shelf-life is shorter in this category" said the COO of Heritage Foods, per The Times of India. This makes sense because as soon as fruits and veggies are chopped up, Verywell Fit claims that they are exposed to elements like heat, oxygen, light, and bacteria, which decreases their lifespan. Additionally, the plastic packaging can leak toxic chemicals into the pre-sliced fruits which can easily turn your healthy choice into a risky one, per The Guardian. But there's also another reason why buying pre-cut citrus fruits isn't worth it. 

Fresh, whole citrus fruits retain vitamin C for longer

If it's the rich vitamins and nutrients you're after, you might want to just stick to fresh fruits. Pre-cut citrus fruits are exposed to fluctuating temperature levels and light, which can accelerate the ripening process and release more carbon dioxide, per Verywell Fit. This cause the fruit sugars to quickly break down, resulting in a loss of overall nutritional value. Water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin C, are one of those all-important antioxidants in citrus fruits that are more at risk because water evaporates rapidly once the fruit is cut and exposed to oxygen. You don't have this problem with whole, locally-sourced fruits, though. Besides saving your money, sticking to fresh produce will also reduce food wastage, which can help lower your carbon footprint by 7%, according to World Wild Life.

Additionally, pre-sliced fruits also spoil faster. But if you're thinking, "So what? I'll just use it up before it goes bad." Consider just how many times these products are shipped and redistributed until they finally reach the shelves of popular grocery chains like Costco. In 2018, it was reported that pre-sliced melon packages were contaminated by salmonella, which ended up hospitalizing over 30 people and sickening 77 across nine states (via Consumer Reports).

So while eating pre-cut citrus fruits is more convenient and accessible, it's best to stick to fresh produce because they have a higher nutritional value, they don't go bad as quickly, and they're a more sustainable option when it comes to the environment.