One in five adults say they eat at least one type of fruit peel regularly, according to a survey carried out earlier this year by the Food Standards Agency.
The survey was carried out to help judge how much eating peel should be taken into account when working out how much pesticide residue people are likely to eat in their food. Pesticide residues
are often found on the outside of fruit but most of the European Member States assume that peel will not be eaten. However, the FSA considers that peel consumption should be taken into account
when estimating consumers’ exposure.
In the sample of 2011 UK adults interviewed in February, the most commonly eaten fruit peel was orange (9%): 4% of all those surveyed only ate orange peel in marmalade and/or baked goods and 4%
of all those surveyed only ate orange peel directly from the fruit. Two per cent of all those surveyed ate orange peel in other ways or in combinations.
Most people who ate peel ate just one (51%) or two (26%) types of fruit peel. Those who ate banana peel and grapefruit peel did so the most often, with 80% and 67% respectively (of those who
consumed the peel) doing so at least one or two days a week.
Those who ate kiwi fruit and lemon peel did so less often, with around two-thirds eating it one or two days a month or less. More than half of those who only ate orange peel directly from the
fruit did so at least one or two days a week (32% every day/most days, 30% one or two days a week).
Half of parents who ate at least one type of peel themselves also said that their children ate at least one type of peel.
The Agency takes a precautionary approach in its dietary risk assessments for pesticide residues by assuming that people eat fruit and vegetables without washing or peeling them. The Pesticides
Safety Directorate (the UK regulator for pesticides) has taken the same position. However, the Agency says it’s a good idea to wash fruit and vegetables before you eat them to ensure that they
are clean and that bacteria that might be on the outside are removed.