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Although colour blind people do develop strategies to help them cope, shopping for fruit and vegetables can be a real problem. Colour blind people often have to learn that ripe apples are often darker than unripe apples and that generally ripe fruit feels softer than unripe fruit and smells different.

In 1989 Steward and Cole in their scientific paper What Do Colour Vision Defectives Say About Everyday Tasks  found that one third of colour blind people experience problems with foodstuffs in both buying and preparation, particularly those with a red-green deficiency because they ‘see’ very little difference between most colours.

A good number of both protans and deutans remarked that they were unable to rely on the observation of colour change to decide when meat was cooked but used alternative strategies such as observing texture, cutting the meat, and relying on cooking time. Almost equal numbers of protans and deutans reported difficulty determining the ripeness of fruit and vegetables by judgment of colour. Bananas, apples, and tomatoes were cited as causing the most confusion and subjects reported using touch and smell to decide on ripeness.’

See the light-hearted article from the National Press by Geoffrey Hope-Terry, where the author describes a trip to his local supermarket.

Green potatoes can’t be easily spotted which can be dangerous as the green patches contain a high concentration of a poisonous solution, solanine, which is particularly dangerous in pregnancy.

meat - normal vision

Normal Vision

meat - deuteranopia


The meat in the above photograph doesn’t look very appetising to someone who is red/green colour blind either!

Fresh meat is difficult to distinguish from older meat and as mentioned in the examples at the beginning of this section, it is very hard for colour blind people to tell whether meat is properly cooked through (see Colorblindworld at, which is not a problem if you want a rare steak but could be a big problem if you have undercooked a fillet of chicken. Some colour blind chefs develop techniques to help them such as using a meat thermometer.