Are oranges really dyed to catch your eye?

Gin Lee
Green oranges/ ripe green oranges/Photo byGin Lee

Are oranges really dyed to catch your eye?

Recently, I was given bags of green oranges. Yep, green oranges! The outer peels are mostly green, but when sliced, the inside fruit is orange. Despite their outer appearance, they are ripe and juicy. Curiosity got the better of me. I wanted an answer to the question, "Why are these oranges green on the outside?"
Bags of green oranges/Photo byGin Lee

During my research, I found that every ripe orange is actually green when it's grown in warmer climates. In fact, only the right weather conditions or artificial processing will turn their peels orange.

Typically, oranges develop chlorophyll as they ripen on trees. Cooler temperatures make the chlorophyll die off, and this will turn the peels orange. However, a sudden rise in temperature can also turn oranges green.

The color transformation that occurs at the processing plants is merely for cosmetic purposes. The fact is, people are prone to believe that if oranges aren't orange in color, they are either ugly or unripened fruit, and ugly, unripened produce usually doesn't sell very well.

So, how do oranges go from green to orange after they've been picked?

When oranges are picked, their green peels will not change color on their own. Some oranges will go through a degreening process, while others will have their peels dyed with Citrus Red #2 to change their outer appearance.

The degreening process takes place in specific areas where the temperatures are kept near 85 degrees and the humidity levels around 90 to 95 percent, and then ethylene gas is released into the rooms to degrade the outer peels of the fruit.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) allows ripened, green oranges that aren't intended for food processing to have their outer peels dyed with Citrus Red #2. It's worthy of noting here that the states of California or Arizona have banned Citrus Red #2. Citrus Red #2 is a member of the azobenzene group. Tests have shown a link between the substance and cancer. (wikidata)


Office of Regulatory Affairs and Issued by: Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Office of Regulatory Affairs (1980) CPG SEC 550.625 oranges - artificial coloring, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available at: (Accessed: 11 May 2023).

Shailes, / Sarah (2015) Why is my orange green?, Plant Scientist. Available at: (Accessed: 11 May 2023).

The Fruit Guys (2019) Green oranges?, The FruitGuys. Available at: green is due to,sugar than deep Dorange fruit. (Accessed: 11 May 2023).

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About the author: Gin Lee is a native of Arkansas. She studied at the Institute of Children's Literature. She is an animal rescuer, food critic, organic gardener, food editor, home cook, food blogger, artist, and a complete do-it-yourselfer. Gin Lee is a published author, journalist, and contributor, among other works, and she resides in a rural town in Arkansas with her husband and their fur babies, Highway, Princess, and Stinkpot the turtle. A huge thanks goes out to all for reading, following, and sharing Gin Lee's articles! Thank you! Since Gin Lee lives in a rural area, there's not much local news to cover. So, she covers articles of interest on how-to's about organic gardening, recipes, homesteading, and survival techniques. If those things are of interest to you, then you'll never (hopefully) be disappointed. She tries to cover a wide variety of articles to entertain everyone. Comments are turned off due to rudeness and hatefulness. The world has enough vulgarity, hatefulness, and arrogance without it having any help. Since having the simple courtesy of manners is lacking and sharing words of kindness does not abide in a few people. Those few people ruin what's supposed to be educational and an enjoyable experience for all others. Gin Lee does have children and young adults that are followers. Potty mouths, vulgarity, and hate are not acceptable. Apologies go out to those of you who generally are very sweet and also to Gin Lee's followers who have been a witness to others being rude and malicious. Hopefully, you'll be understanding of the measures that have to be put into place. Please be kind to one another.

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