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Common myth debunked after Woolworths shopper's 'disgusting' fruit find

A Woolworths shopper has vowed to boycott the supermarket giant after being sold an “utterly disgusting” piece of fruit, however an expert says shoppers should have confidence in supermarkets' fresh produce.

The pear, which was bought at the Neutral Bay store on Sunday, appeared to be fresh and edible from the outside but when James Hiley’s wife cut it open, she yelled out in horror.

“The inside of the pair was dark brown, soft, mouldy,” he explained to Yahoo News.

“Due to our shock and horror at the sight we threw the pear out immediately.”

The Sydney resident unleashed online, posting a complaint directly to Woolworths’ Facebook page.

A rotten pear purchased from Woolworths Neutral Bay. Source: Facebook/James Hiley
A Sydney shopper was horrified by the state of a pear he purchased from Woolworths. Source: Facebook/James Hiley

“Fresh’ pears purchased from Neutral Bay Woolworths yesterday. Utterly disgusting and a genuine health & safety concern. How old must this pear be?,” he wrote, blaming modern practices to maximise produce shelf life for the state of the fruit.

“Goes to show how chemical modification can ensure a ‘fresh’ exterior is maintained whilst the genuine ‘health’ below the surface tells the true story. Horrifying to think how these foods are affecting people's long term health.”

Expert weighs in on 'chemical modification' claims

But an expert in Food and Agribusiness debunked the claims, telling Yahoo News it looked more likely to be internal fungal rot.

“It’s pretty common but I can’t make a proper diagnosis from just a picture,” Dr Kim-Yen Phan-Thien from Sydney University said.

“Consumers don’t see it often because rotten fruit is typically waded out before it gets to the stores.”

Dr Phan-Thien said there are many misconceptions about the practices used to maximise the shelf-life of fresh produce after harvest.

“Refrigeration is a form of preservation and apples might be waxed to prevent moisture loss,” she explained.

“There may be chemicals used to inhibit or reduce the risk of disease depending on the type of fruit but they are approved for use, and are safe for consumption.”

She said Australia’s horticultural industry manages quality and safety “very well” and it’s rare to see problems.

A general view is seen of a Woolworths store in Brisbane, Friday, June 25, 2021. Source: AAP
Under Woolworths' Fresh or Free Guarantee, the supermarket giant will refund and replace any fresh food you're not happy. Source: AAP

Woolworths responds to rotten pear images

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia it takes such reports seriously.

"We take food quality seriously and are disappointed to receive this customer’s report," the spokesperson said.

"We’ve passed this onto our supply partners for their awareness, and haven’t received any other reports on similar products at this time.

"If ever our customers are disappointed with the quality of one of our products, we’d encourage them to contact their local store for a replacement and refund."

Woolworths believes the recent heavy rain may have contributed to the pear's state.

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