Does the World Really Need Non-Browning Apples?March 3, 2015
Move over Golden Delicious and Granny Smith, there’s a new apple in town and apparently this one has something that no other apple does—it’s got non-browning properties.
When a typical apple is bruised, bitten or even sliced, its polyphenol oxidase (PPO) mixes with its polyphenolics to create a brown coloured melanin—which is where that unappealing brownish colour comes from. With Arctic apples, however, the combination of these two proteins never actually occurs, therefore bypassing the colour change. If you plan on pursuing food quality training, or enrolling in any quality control courses, this is one innovative item you may want to keep tabs on. The ability of being able to slow a fruit’s natural course might just have greater implications where both food safety and pharmaceutical industries are concerned. Read on to learn more.
USDA Deregulates Arctic Apples
Recently, the United States Department of Agriculture decided to approve Arctic apples. These particular apples have been genetically engineered not to brown as quickly as standard apples. The USDA’s decision to deregulate them was based on an assessment that showed that doing so would not likely have a “significant impact on the human environment.” This is because the apples will eventually age and their colour will change and turn brown just like all other fruits. They have simply been genetically altered to produce very little PPO, which is what causes the browning to occur.
While there is no record of any potential health risks being discovered during any assessments or tests surrounding Arctic apples, some consumers are opposed to the USDA’s decision to deregulate these genetically modified fruits. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water watch, expressed her concerns over the USDA’s decision, stating “in its environmental assessment, the USDA glossed over the possibility of unintentional effects associated with the technology used to engineer these apples, potential economic impacts on the U.S. and international apple market, effects of potential contamination for non-GMO and organic apple growers and the impact of the non-browning gene silencing which also can weaken plant defenses and plant health.”
The Center for Food Safety also voiced its apprehension; “Once the whole fruit is sliced, it has an increased risk of exposure to pathogens. Since browning is a sign that apples are no longer fresh, ‘masking’ this natural signal could lead people to consume contaminated apples.”
Industry experts who have had food safety training know that Arctic apples actually do offer some benefits to consumers, apart from the obvious one of maintaining their impeccable appearance. In fact, an Arctic apple that has been sliced can be refrigerated for at least a few days without changing colours. This means that consumers will no longer have to dowse their apple slices in lemon juice or any other acidic chemicals to avoid colour change.
Another benefit of these apples is that consumers who eat these, instead of standard apples that have already begun to brown, will be consuming higher levels of antioxidants such as Vitamin C. This is because when traditional apples begin to brown, the levels of these antioxidants begin to diminish, as they get used up.
Do you have any concerns with eating genetically modified fruits?