I was in the supermarket and I noticed that one brand of "organic" carrots was a very pale orange, but another brand of carrots was bright orange.

Is this color difference because the carrots are being dyed?

  • 2
    See cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/39464/…
    – Stephie
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 21:09
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    That natural color is so strong in domesticated carrots that it can actually be used to dye other things, instead of the other way around. In Little House on the Prairie, Ma uses them to color butter, a hundred years before artificial dyes have become so common that this question would even need to be asked.
    – wedstrom
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 20:52
  • The coloring is carotene, which your body can convert to vitamin A. It's good for you (in moderation). It forms an important part of the diet of flamingoes, (they get it from shrimps), and it's what makes them pink. livescience.com/32968-why-are-flamingos-pink.html
    – JavaLatte
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 16:51
  • @Stephie - that was a good answer. usually you see people like the question poster there, assuming that carrots are "typically" orange. actually they come from asia and a lighter/pale color with purple "veins" is probably most common there. Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 15:11
  • I should add that carrots, being an incredibly cheap vegetable, would be a huge money-losing venture for any person selling them in the case that they were being dyed. Commented Apr 10, 2016 at 18:15

7 Answers 7


Probably not.

Carrots naturally (or due to selective breeding) come in an extremely wide variety of colors from white to yellow to orange to red/pink to purple. It's likely that you were simply looking at two different varieties, one of which was more pale than the other.

Natural Carrot color variation
click image for source

Even the color being only "skin deep" isn't necessarily a sign of it being a dye as many carrots have white cores, or at least cores that are more white than their surrounding flesh. Which you can see an example of below:

Inside the carrots

  • 41
    Naturally, carrots aren't orange: the orange colour was selectively bred in, in the 17th century. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 1:56
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    @Paulb : based on what the local farmer's market has, I find that the red & purple ones tend to be sweeter than the orange carrots. The white ones tend to be less sweet. (I don't know if that's true for all carrots of those colors, or just the specific varieties that the farm in question sells.)
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 15:14
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    "Orange-coloured carrots appeared in the Netherlands in the 17th century, which has been related to the fact that the Dutch flag at the time, the Prince's Flag, included orange" Just feels so ridiculous that a color of a freaking vegetable is based on the color of a house (House of Orange-Nassau) Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 15:52
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    @DavidRicherby On the contrary - orange is a natural color. It had to be present, in order for it to be "bred in". Carrots, as seen above, come in many varieties and colors. We just so happened to decide orange was the most appealing type.
    – SnakeDoc
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 18:36
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    @DavidRicherby of course it could have been a mutation. A mutation is a fully natural thing for a carrot :)
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 20:55

It's probably not anything so sinister. Even typical orange carrots do vary somewhat in hue. And as with many other vegetables, "heirloom" varieties of carrot have started to make a bit of a comeback in the US.

enter image description here

As you can see here there's a wide variation in color among these heirloom versions; they can range from very pale, almost white to brilliant orange to a deep purple.


The other answers did not mention the packaging. Carrots that come in bags (like baby carrots) often have an orange grid pattern painted on the bag. This makes the carrots look significantly more orange than their non-bagged counterparts.


Carrots come in lots of colors from pure white, yellow, orange up to and even including deep purple.

They are not dyed.


Carrots are not dyed, but they are orange because of a substance (Carotene C40Hx) in them that is actually named after carrots. Many other orange foods get their orange color from Carotene.


In response to your question, carrots are not dyed. (Unless of course you are talking about the mini frosting carrots on carrot cakes) Regular carrots, however contain a natural pigment known as carotene which is also found in humans to some degree. This carotene is naturally orange leading to the color of carrots. Technically speaking, if you ingest enough carrots, or any other food such as tomatoes rich in beta-carotene, you will take on a slight orange color in a condition called Carotenemia.

  • It takes about 5 pounds of raw carrots eaten in 2 days to turn my skin orange. (In my defense, they were really good carrots.)
    – arp
    Commented Aug 3, 2019 at 4:53

Carrots are dyed, they contain lots of different dyes! However they dye themselves as part of the gowning process. This has been increased by plant breeders over the years. So all carrots have been genetically modified, but by farmers in muddy boots, not by "evil" people in labs....

  • 1
    There's a huge difference between producing dyes and being dyed.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 15:55
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    There is also a difference between selective breeding and genetic modification Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 6:41
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    Please don't confuse selective breeding with genetic modification. The consequences of those two done "incorrectly" are leagues away from each other.
    – Nelson
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 8:56
  • Carrots, like other fruit and vegetables contain 'photosynthetic pigments'. Orange Carrots in particular have higher levels of 'beta-Carotene'. This is a far cry from introducing a dye to an object, or genetic modification.
    – Food Lover
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 17:48

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