Apeel is a new plant-based protection that was developed in order to help keep produce stay fresh for longer. It achieves this by coating the outside of all fruits and vegetables with proprietary chemicals that slow down water loss and oxidation. Apeel is marketed as a thin, plant-based, edible peel that coats fresh produce, acting similarly to the plant’s cuticle layer. The postharvest coating may sound like a wonderful invention at first glance with the mission to help minimize food and plastic waste in plant food production, but once you look into the ingredients, discover the fact that it can’t be washed off, and also has many other concerns, you may want to reconsider. Let’s take a closer look at the new Apeel technology that’s already been approved for use in several countries including the United States.
What Is Apeel?
Apeel is a sprayable coating from plant-derived materials that has been approved for fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, and South Africa without any restrictions. Apeel Sciences is the parent company name but has multiple product names registered for edible food coatings. The Apeel product line currently offers two product types. The first is called Invisipeel which can be applied directly to crops in a field by farmers. The second product type requires farmers to wait until the crops are ready before harvesting and applying. This second category has two approved products: Edipeel for non-organic produce and Organipeel for organic produce.
It has also been approved for use for only certain types of fruit in various European countries. The main purpose of this product is to create a thin protective peel in order for fresh produce to maintain its moisture and protect itself from spoilage. Apeel is designed to keep produce fresh for at least twice the amount of time.
Who Is Funding Apeel?
Apeel has received a total of $719.1 million in funding from 33 investors. Some of the most notable investors in Apeel’s Edipeel technology include:
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- The World Economic Forum
- The Rockefeller Foundation
- Infectious Disease Startups
- The government of Singapore
So, why are some of the world’s arguably notoriously corrupt organizations funding this? What do they have to gain with the unrestricted use of adding Apeel to all fresh vegetables and fruits in several countries? Before we put our conspiracy hats on, let’s discuss what this plant-derived food additive really is.
What Are the Ingredients in Apeel?
Per its website, Apeel is composed entirely of purified monoglycerides and diglycerides. While the company is marketing these ingredients as plant-based molecules that naturally occur in peels, seeds, and plant pulp, these ingredients can be quite problematic for a few reasons.
How Are Monoglycerides and Diglycerides Made?
Monoglycerides and diglycerides are naturally present in certain seed oils such as grapeseed oil and cottonseed oil. However, concentrations are low and difficult to isolate. That’s why these compounds must be manufactured through a chemical reaction that starts with a triglyceride-containing animal fat or vegetable oil. The most commonly used vegetable oils are hydrogenated soybean or palm oils. Since Apeel’s formula is plant-derived, its mono- and diglycerides are manufactured from vegetable oil. High heat and an alkaline catalyst (glycerol) are utilized for the chemical reaction, rearranging the triglycerides into mono- and diglycerides. This results in a mixture of all three mono-, di-, and triglycerides. The next step is saponification and distillation in order to further isolate the mono- and diglycerides, removing the triglycerides, water content, and other impurities.
The end result of pure mono- and diglycerides are food additives generally used as emulsifiers, ingredients that help blend water and oil together. They can be found in most processed foods and serve the purpose of improving the user’s eating experience (e.g., reducing the stickiness in candy, giving ice cream a creamier consistency, and preventing peanut butter’s oil from separating). A 2017 study reported that 70% of emulsifiers in US food products are in fact mono- and diglycerides. These emulsifiers are also frequently used to extend the shelf life of processed foods.
The Dangers of Monoglycerides and Diglycerides
Monoglycerides and diglycerides are heavily processed, chemically-laced seed oil byproducts that contain trans fats. Trans fats are known to promote inflammation throughout the body and have been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Studies also show that trans fats can have an adverse impact on the brain and nervous system, diminish mental health performance, distort cell membranes, lead to infertility in women, and compromise fetal development. In 2006, the FDA began requiring manufacturers to list trans fat on food labels. However, this law applies to lipids and not emulsifiers such as mono- and diglycerides. In 2018, the FDA banned the addition of trans fat to foods, but since mono- and diglycerides are classified as emulsifiers, the ban doesn’t apply to these additives. They can actually be used in any food without any limitations.
So, how can the FDA state that mono- and diglycerides are generally safe even though they contain trans fats? The reasoning provided by the FDA is that the small amounts of trans fats found in these emulsifiers aren’t harmful. However, many people aren’t just consuming a small amount. One study found that the presence of small amounts of trans fats in hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils/food products likely causes many Americans to exceed their recommended maximum. With no trans fat labeling requirements needed for emulsifiers such as mono- and diglycerides, there’s no way of knowing how much trans fat is in products that contain them.
Another issue with consuming mono- and diglycerides is that they convert back to triglycerides in the bloodstream. High triglycerides are linked to the hardening of arteries, the increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and pancreatitis. Monoglycerides have also been deemed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as “toxic elements” that may have substantial consequences from consumption. Another EFSA review warned that monoglycerides may contain glycidol which is carcinogenic.
Why We Should Avoid Apeel’s EdiPeel
If the health implications of trans-fat containing mono- and diglycerides aren’t compelling enough, there are other issues to consider as well:
- Permanent, unwashable compounds: Apeel was developed intentionally to be an edible layer that can’t be removed or washed off. The natural peels that fruits and vegetables have are porous in nature to permit the exchange of carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and to release oxygen. So even if you’re able to use a peeler to remove the produce’s peel and Apeel Edipeel outer layer, there won’t be any way to remove the compounds that have seeped through the porous peel into the fibers of the fruit or vegetable.
- Approved for all fruits and vegetables including organic: The FDA has already approved Apeel for the use of all fruits and vegetables in the United States with no restriction. That means that it can be applied to organic produce despite the fact that this category is supposed to be chemical-free.
- FDA’s classification on Apeel being “Generally Recognized As Safe”: The Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) is an FDA exemption originally introduced in 1958 to allow certain substances to be considered safe for consumption without undergoing any further approval. The original intention was to help streamline the production of food products that contained ingredients with long-established safety records such as salt and vinegar. Until 1997, the FDA was in charge of reviewing, confirming, or rejecting a company’s request for GRAS designation. Currently, GRAS designations to the FDA are entirely voluntary. This loophole allows companies to introduce new chemicals or use previously approved chemicals in new ways without notifying the FDA. Companies can utilize the GRAS designation either through self-affirmation or through the FDA’s voluntary GRAS program. In the self-affirmation process, the company evaluates the safety of the substance and determines it to be GRAS without any direct involvement from the FDA. During the self-affirmation process, companies aren’t required to notify the FDA or provide any supporting evidence for the GRAS determination. After Apeel filed its own GRAS petition through the self-affirming process, the company included that since its ingredients are composed primarily of mono- and diglycerides from grapeseed oil, its protective peel additive is exempt entirely from the requirement of FDA’s premarket approval. The FDA approved this notion so there is no transparency, regulatory oversight, or third-party evaluation of the safety information provided on this food additive.
- Carcinogenic and toxic compounds from manufacturing process: In Apeel’s GRAS submission, the company discloses some of its industrial manufacturing process for their edible coating products. In order to manufacture the mono- and diglycerides which are the main ingredients of all Apeel products, there is toxic residue from ethyl acetate, heptane, palladium, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury which are used in the extraction process of grapeseed leaves. These toxic compounds and solvents have been linked to a host of various health conditions.
- Lack of transparency and safety concerns: Apeel Organipeel is registered as a pesticide with the EPA. Not only does the registration documentation fail to list the full ingredients of this product, the EPA is requiring a caution on the label that states: “Wash thoroughly with soap and water after handling and before eating, drinking, chewing gym, using tobacco, or using the toilet.” Yet this protective coating is supposedly designed to be eaten and is marketed as safe.
- Mystery ingredients disclosed: The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) approved Organipeel for use on USDA organic produce presumably based on citric acid being the active ingredient. Citric acid, which 99% of is derived from the black mold strain Aspergilus niger, is a non-organic ingredient that’s allowed in organic foods as long as it’s not synthetic. However, citric acid only accounts for 0.66% of Organipeel’s ingredients. What about the other 99.34%? Without full transparency, we can only assume that all Apeel products probably carry some of the health problems that similar preservatives cause that are commonly used in ultra-processed foods. Another concern is that Organipeel is actually listed as a fungicide on the OMRI certificate.
Apeel: Another Concern for Foods From the Plant Kingdom
As we know, plant foods can already be problematic for a number of reasons. Here’s a quick summary of the potential issues foods from the plant kingdom contain. You can learn more in-depth about these concerns here.
- Anti-nutrients: Plant anti-nutrients found throughout the plant food kingdom such as lectins, oxalates, and phytic acid, have been linked to serious health implications ranging from autoimmunity to poor mineral absorption.
- Mycotoxins and aflatoxins: These toxic mold particles are highly inflammatory and even carcinogenic, and are found commonly in nuts, grains, seeds, legumes, spices, dried fruit, coffee beans, and processed foods.
- Glyphosate, herbicides, and pesticides: Glyphosate and many common herbicides and pesticides are established as large contributors to cancer and other health issues. Measurable levels have been found across conventional, non-GMO, and even some organic produce.
- Bioavailability: Plant foods aren’t as bioavailable as meat in terms of nutrients, protein, and amino acids. Eating plant-based will also lead to nutritional deficiencies without proper supplementation.
- Fructose and carbohydrates: Excess sugar consumption is a major driver for chronic illness. Both complex and simple carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in the body, and fructose may be even more damaging to health than glucose.
With Apeel as a new addition to this list, it’s even safer to say– let’s just stick to meat.
Closing Thoughts On Apeel
With no transparency or third-party evaluation of the product safety information, no long-term safety studies, questionable ingredients linked to adverse health effects, and the fact that Apeel can be used with no restriction on all produce for sale to the public, it’s just another reason to be informed on how many fruits and vegetables we’re allowing into our diet. Unless you’re growing your own produce or have a relationship with a local produce farmer, limiting fruits and vegetables and focusing on nutrient-dense animal products is best. Now that even organic produce has been compromised, this is even more reason to make meat and animal fat the center of your diet.
Work With Our Leading Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioners
Nutrition with Judy is honored to be the leading functional nutritional therapy practitioner serving clients from around the globe. We’re passionate about helping our clients achieve root-cause healing in order to lead the best quality of life possible that’s nearly symptom-free. We strive to create free educational resources in order to ensure the most accessible care available. We welcome you to explore our free resources and are always available to support you through personalized protocols.
DISCLAIMER: This content is for educational purposes only. While we are board-certified in holistic nutrition and are nutritional therapy practitioners, we are not providing medical advice. Whenever you start a new diet or protocol, always consult with your trusted practitioner first.