Wax on Fruits and Vegetables | Is it Dangerous or Not?

Do you want to know about the wax that covers the fruit? Sometimes it is natural, and other times it is artificial, but it is never dangerous or poisonous.

fruit wax

You have asked us a lot about some videos that supposedly denounce that something or someone covers the fruits with wax with the intention of making them brighter and more attractive and thus somehow mislead consumers. In these videos, you can see how scratching the surface of the fruit (apple) detaches a white substance, that wax, and it is recommended that the fruit be peeled to avoid ingesting it.

These videos usually arouse a lot of alarm, insinuating that with this trick we are being poisoned and thus they get a lot of diffusions, but what they tell is a hoax, as disseminators such as famous food technologist, have already pointed out.

In summary, it must be clarified that yes, sometimes the fruit is covered in wax or similar substances. The fruit itself generates that wax that serves as protection against external aggressions and to preserve the substances inside. Other times, that layer is added artificially to precisely achieve that protection and improve its appearance before consumers. In all cases, this wax is in very small quantities that are always safe for health.


Fruits with wax are safe or not?

Yes, they are safe. As with all food additives, European legislation evaluates their safety periodically based on the usual doses of use. It only allows its use in those doses below what is considered safe. That means that when you eat an apple with its skin, it may be covered by waxy substances, but these do not pose a risk to your health.

It is important to note that your safety does not depend on whether these waxes are naturally present in the apple or because they have been added artificially afterwards. That substance is natural does not make it safer than an artificial one.


Advantage of Natural Wax Coating on Fruits and Vegetables

Many plants naturally generate some type of wax that covers and protects them. In particular, many fruits are covered with some wax. Remember that although for us they are food, for the plants that generate them, the fruits are a reproductive element. They are the element in charge of housing their seeds and promoting their germination in the most efficient way possible. Hence, it has all possible protective layers, including wax.

What functions does this natural wax from plants have? On the one hand, as we say, it protects them from aggressions or external substances, and that is why if we drop drops of water on them, they slide on their surface. It also acts as a sunscreen, reflecting UVA rays and preventing them from damaging the cells of the fruit. On the other hand, it prevents substances from coming out of the interior, basically evaporated water, oxygen and CO2.


Beginning of Artificial Fruit Wax

Sometimes waxes are added artificially to the fruit before it is sold. This is what is called “coating agents”. It is something that was already done in China in the 12th century with citrus fruits to prolong their conservation, and that was adopted in the United States in the 1920s. From 1950 it was expanded to also be used in other fruits and vegetables.

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Why Artificial Fruit Wax?

The objective is to replicate those properties that fruit wax has naturally to protect it from external substances and preserve it from the loss of qualities.

In addition, there is an added advantage: an apple with a wax film is brighter and therefore more attractive to the consumer. The appearance of the food is one of the main criteria by which we choose them when making the purchase, and shiny and lustrous fruit is more likely to end up in our shopping basket than other more wrinkled or matte, although in actually its taste or properties are the same. This has another advantage: the purchase of fruit is encouraged, thereby improving nutrition and reducing waste.

A very small amount of wax is added to achieve this effect, equal to that which the fruit has naturally. Different products are used, from beeswax (labelled as E-901 within the regulations that regulate food additives) to waxes from different plants (candelilla or E-902, carnaúba or E-903 ), products from petroleum refining (microcrystalline wax or E-905) or resins and gums (shellac or E-904, ester gum or E-445).

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