Photo by: Elena Norbiato.
I often been suspicious of wax on fruits and vegetables. How safe is it and how much of this wax is going directly to my hips? This post is about the safety of wax on fruits and vegetables.
Why is there wax on fruits and vegetables?
Wax retains water in fruits and vegetables in the same way that moisturizers do to the skin. Wax on fruits and vegetables protects against bruising, mold growth, and extends the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. Apples, green peppers, cucumbers, and others have natural waxes already, but get washed off during processing. Supermarkets like waxes because the high shine from the wax makes the fruits and vegetables look attractive and fresh.
What is in the wax on fruits and vegetables?
One type of wax is carnauba, from the leaves of palm trees. The manufacturer’s claim this product has “a superior natural wax emulsion with a high gloss, long shelf life and superior drying characteristics.” Sounds like the polish my husband use on his car.
The waxes on food are similar to those used to shine floors, furniture, shoes, and vehicles. Derived from petroleum and natural sources, they often contain some combination of paraffin, shellac, carnauba, polyethylene and synthethic resins. Due to its high melting temperature, the wax cannot be washed off and often used as a vehicle for applying bactericides, fungicides, growth regulators and dyes.
How safe is the wax on fruits and vegetables?
The FDA rather used its limited resources to inspect food with a higher chance of being harmful to people. Waxes on fruits and vegetables are among those products that, because they fall in the category ”generally recognized as safe,” have not been subjected to the rigorous lab and clinical testing.
Even fruits we peeled get the wax treatment such as clementines, avocados, cantaloupes, or pumpkins. Harmful bacteria might get trapped between the wax and produce during processing. And the only way to remove the wax would be to peel the fruit or produce, but usually the peel is where the fiber is.
What happens to the wax on fruits and vegetables once we eat them?
Waxes are fats. They are so big that they slide right through our digestive tract without our bodies absorbing them. One gallon of wax covers 12,000 pounds of fruit. So we are really not eating that much wax when we eat that cucumber. Food toxicologists have tested waxes on fruits and vegetables on rats, but have found no effect on metabolism or cancer risk, even when they are eating 10% of their diet from waxes.
Waxes on fruits and vegetables are another way for supermarkets to transport their produce over long distances, not a health concern.
I try not to get the wax on fruits and vegetables whenever possible. But I do not lose any sleep over them. There are other ingredients in our food supply that has the potential to do more damage to our health than the wax on fruits and vegetables.
Stay tune for my future posts discussing our food supplies at the supermarkets by subscribing via email or to my feed. You will only get a notification when I update my blog. If you find this post interesting, you might also be interested in my discussion on supermarket tricks and slotting fees.
Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.
Like what you are reading? How about subscribing? It's free!