When receiving Honeydews (or any other product) that show some odd residue on the surface it will definitely get your attention. Your first question will always be, “What the heck is this stuff? Insecticide, fungicide, dried detergent from a wash?”
As curious as you may be, the only person who can definitively state what the residue is would be the grower/shipper. But if the origin is not domestic it makes this prospect much more difficult. The honeydew pictured here came from Guatemala.
From an inspection standpoint you should research the U.S. Grade Standards to determine the cleanliness requirements for the U.S. No. 1 Grade. Most of the time the standard will state the product must be clean, meaning it must be reasonably free from dirt or foreign material. Unfortunately the Honeydew Standard leaves us a bit in the dark. There is no requirement the honeydews must be clean, but they must not be damaged by dirt. The residue seen pictured here is clearly not dirt.
But the USDA Inspection Instructions for Honeydews do clear things up a bit, stating: “Cleanness refers to dirt, stain, or other foreign material affecting the melon. The following terms shall be used to describe the degree of cleanness: Clean means that the individual melon is practically free from dirt or other foreign material.” It goes on to clarify: “Damaged by dirt means that the appearance or marketing quality of the individual melon is materially affected by dirt or foreign material. Melons damaged by dirt shall be reported as “dirty” and scored as damage. Serious damage by dirt means that the appearance or marketing quality of the individual melon is seriously affected by dirt or foreign material. Melons seriously affected by dirt shall be reported as “seriously damaged by dirt” and scored as serious damage.”
From our melon pictured here, based upon this scoring guideline, you can score this melon as being damaged by foreign material………. and you can take it a step further and say the foreign material seriously affects the appearance and should be scored as serious damage.
From a consumer standpoint it is best practices to always wash your produce. By washing this melon the residue should easily be removed and be safe to eat.
If anyone knows for sure what the white residue is on the honeydew we’d all be curious to hear from you.