Nobody Can Figure Out Why This Orange Slice Turned Purple

This week, on Unsolved Mysteries of Sliced Fruit.
September 7, 2018, 9:30pm
Photo by Neti Moffitt

When Neti Moffitt posted a question about her son’s afternoon snack on Facebook, it wasn’t the typical Concerned Mom inquiry. It was more like a Concerned Scientist’s question, because she was asking if anyone could tell her why the uneaten slices of her son’s orange had turned dark purple overnight.

Yes. Her orange turned purple, and the Canberra, Australia woman was beyond confused. "I went rifling through the rubbish bin for the three bits eaten by my son, and sure enough they were more-so purple than the ones left out on the bench,” she told ABC News. “My first thought was I hope it has had no ill effect on my child. But he's fine, absolutely not a drama."


It might not be a drama, but it is a mystery—so much so that an Australian government agency is now investigating. A “very excited” representative from Queensland Health went to Moffitt’s home and collected the not-so-orange slices, the knife she’d used to cut it, and a knife sharpener. “There's only one other case that's been reported,” Moffitt said. “If it's some kind of weird acid-loving mould or iodine reaction to the knife, wouldn't that information be well known?”

The other case that Moffitt referred to also happened in Australia. In 2015, Angela Postle was also shocked to see her orange slices had turned purple overnight. “I cut some up and they went in my kids’ lunchboxes for school, and I left some out because I was going to give them to my baby,” she told at the time. “However I ended up making mango and banana puree, so they were left in a bowl overnight, and we noticed the purple colour in the morning.”

Postle’s oranges were tested for food coloring, artificial colors, or iodine, but nothing was detected. She was content just to get a refund from the store where she purchased them—but then another orange she picked up at a local market also turned purple. A spokesperson from Citrus Australia suggested that the fruit must have been contaminated by Postle’s knife or something else in her kitchen, an assertion that she dismissed. “I think it’s terrible they haven’t come up with any answers,” she said.

Back in Brisbane, Moffitt is anxiously awaiting the results of Queensland Health’s tests. “But they're baffled, they're absolutely stumped,” she said. “No one knows what caused it."

“Perhaps it a sign from Prince,” one person suggested on Twitter. “ I'm going with that until a more outlandish explanation comes along.” That… that’s the best we’ve got so far.