I received a very important question from one of the readers of this website (Arimifoods.com). I would like to answer it in this article.
The reader was concerned whether the coating on apples is good for health or has negative effects.
To start with, the coating of foods especially fruits is a very old practice. Apple fruits have been coated for many years and the practice will continue in the foreseeable future. Coating of apples is carried out by applying a thin layer of wax on the surface. The coating process can be carried out by either dipping, brushing or spraying with wax. This coating is normally referred to as edible coating. An edible coating is a thin layer that is applied on the surface of a fruit or vegetables which is consumed together with the fruit. Edible coatings are considered to be safe for human consumption. Therefore, these coatings are expected to be consumed together with the fruits. The same way the sausages are consumed with their casing.
However, it should be noted that there could be unscrupulous producers who would coat apples with petroleum-based waxes. The type of waxes applied on fruits are supposed to enforced by the state. For example, in USA, Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) oversees all the waxes that are supposed to be used. Whereas Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBs ) is the responsible body in Kenya.
Why coat apple fruits
There are several reasons for coating apples. The main reasons are either for preservation, aesthetic (appearance) or the obvious one of replacing the natural wax.
The apples, naturally have a natural wax coating on their surface. This natural wax coating helps to protect the apple fruit from shriveling and weight loss. However, prior to packaging of the apple fruits, they are washed by scrubbing the surface to remove dirt and chemical residues (if they are not organic). This scrubbing removes approximately 50% of the natural wax coating.
To replace the natural wax coating, processors apply other recommended waxes on the surface of apples. The waxes applied on apples can either be animal wax, vegetable wax or mineral and synthetic wax. After applying wax, the fruits assumes glossy and firm appearance which is considered as an important quality in apples.
The distributors and sellers of apples can apply wax to improve appearance and increase visual freshness. This is very common practice especially in supermarkets.
The most common wax used on apples is a vegetable wax called canauba wax or shellac.