SAFE TO EAT: Derek Foley with ripe, red lychees ready for picking. He stressed that these are perfectly safe to eat - just not green lychees on an empty stomach.
SAFE TO EAT: Derek Foley with ripe, red lychees ready for picking. He stressed that these are perfectly safe to eat - just not green lychees on an empty stomach. Eliza Goetze

Don't worry, our lychees are safe to eat

LYCHEES have copped a bad rap in the last 24 hours.

News of starving Indian children dying from a mysterious disease landed on the fruit as an unlikely culprit.

But not the kind you pick up at the shops.

Bundaberg lychee farmer and Australian Lychee Growers Association chief, Derek Foley, said he was disappointed with the ABC for using images of his own ripe, pink lychees in a story about the Indian tragedy caused by children eating immature, green lychees on an empty stomach.

The post by ABC News on Facebook.
The post by ABC News on Facebook. Eliza Goetze

In the social media excitement that ensued, lychee lovers were today still tagging their friends in horror over the story.

But Mr Foley stressed the illness was "not an issue in Australia”.

"It is very sad for those children, but (fresh pink lychees) are not the sort of fruit they are talking about.

"The real problem is these children are malnourished and not looked after, and they are wandering down the road to a local orchard where it's early in the season.”

Lychee trees go through several "shedding” cycles, dropping immature green fruit as small as a thumbnail before bearing fruit that ripens to the pink fruit consumers are familiar with, he explained.

"It's the acid in these unripe, green lychees that is making them crook,” he said.

"To put up a photo of beautiful red lychees is just misleading.”

Lychees are "very healthy” and high in vitamin C, Mr Foley said.

So don't be discouraged - the lychees you buy are perfectly safe to eat.

Horticulture industry body Growcom issued a media release to try and blast any misconceptions.



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