Sunday, August 15, 2010

How to buy and use Fruits and Vegetables with Wax Coating ?!

Why are wax coatings used on some fruits and vegetables? Are they safe? 
Waxes are applied in order to: 
  • help retain moisture in fruits and vegetables during shipping and marketing; 
  • help inhibit mold growth; 
  • protect fruits and vegetables from bruising; 
  • prevent other physical damage and disease; 
  • enhance appearance. 
By protecting against moisture loss and contamination, wax coatings help fresh fruits and vegetables maintain wholesomeness and freshness. Waxing does not improve the quality of any inferior fruit or vegetables; rather, waxing — along with proper handling — contributes to maintaining a healthful product. 
Waxes by themselves do not control decay; rather, they may be combined with some chemicals to prevent the growth of mold. The US Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency strictly regulate the safety and use of these substances.

Waxes are also used on candies, pastries and gum and come from natural sources. Wax sources generally are plants, food-grade petroleum products or insects (similar to honey from bees). 

Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are often waxed to prevent moisture loss, protect them from bruising during shipping, and increase their shelf life. When purchasing non-organic fruits and vegetables, you should ask your grocer about the kind of wax used on their surface even if you are going to peel it; carnauba wax (from the carnauba palm tree), beeswax, and shellac (from the lac beetle) are preferable to petroleum-based waxes, which contain solvent residues or wood rosins. Yet, it is not just the wax itself that may be of concern but the other compounds often added to it - ethyl alcohol or ethanol for consistency, milk casein (a protein linked to milk allergy) as "film formers" and soaps as flowing agents.

Unfortunately, at this point in time, the only way we know of to remove the wax from non-organic produce is to remove the skin, as washing will not remove the wax or any bacteria trapped beneath it. If you choose to do this, use a peeler that takes only a thin layer of skin, as many healthy vitamins and minerals lie right below the skin.

Consumers do have choices. Waxes generally cannot be removed by regular washing. If consumers prefer not to consume waxes — even though the waxes are safe — they can buy unwaxed commodities or can peel the fruit or vegetable, thereby removing any coating. 
  • Organically grown fruits and vegetables do not contain wax coatings, allowing you to enjoy all of the nutritional benefits offered by the skin.
  • Commodities that may have coatings applied include apples, avocados, bell peppers, cantaloupes, cucumbers, eggplants, grapefruits, lemons, limes, melons, oranges, parsnips, passion fruit, peaches, pineapples, pumpkins, rutabagas, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips and yucca. However, they are not always waxed.

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