Scientists Have Figured Out Why A Brisbane Orange Went Purple That One Time

If you didn’t see the fruit-related news earlier this month, an orange purchased from a Brisbane fruit and veg shop turned weirdly purple after it was cut up by its buyer. After analysis was conducted by Queensland Government scientists, we now know why the orange changed colour, and no, it’s not aliens.

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The answer comes down to a chemical reaction. Some stuff called anthocyanins, which occur naturally in oranges, reacted with iron particles found on the recently sharpened knife used to cut it up, resulting in the purple colour.

The orange scraps, knife, sharpener, and other samples from Neti Moffitt‘s home were collected and analysed by scientists at Queensland Health‘s Forensic and Scientific Services, who delivered the results to ABC News yesterday.

“The results of analysis have confirmed the discolouration was caused by the reaction of anthocyanins, a pigment that is naturally present in oranges, and traces of iron and/or other metals from a freshly sharpened knife,” the report said. “These pigments are not known to represent any risk to human health.”

Slices of orange with purple colouring

Needless to say, Moffitt was stoked to learn the discolouration was of no harm to her or her family, and according to Queensland chief chemist, Stewart Carswell, an interesting change of pace to the samples they usually receive in the lab.

“We see samples that range from blood, urine, water, soil, fish and foodstuffs. So to have an orange come through was really different for our team,” he told ABC News.

So there you have it, folks, the purple orange was just a gift from chemistry. You’ll also be pleased to hear Moffitt’s knife and sharpener were returned to her.