Q. Are waxed apples harmful to eat?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 04 April 2014.
Tagged: additives, fresh food, wellness

Q. Are waxed apples harmful to eat?

Q.  Can you tell me if the wax on the skin of apples is bad for me?

A. Not as far as I know.

Apples are a fruit with a high water content. However they naturally produce their own wax which coats the fruit, reduces moisture loss, and keeps them fresher for longer. After the apples are picked, growers wash the apples to remove leaf litter and any field dirt.

Of course some of the wax is also washed away so they reapply a small amount (around 2 drops per apple) of a natural wax to make up for it.

The most commonly used wax is Carnauba wax (code number 903) which is sourced from the leaves of a Brazilian palm tree Copernicia prunifera. This is a wax that has been widely used in fruits, vegetables, sweets, pastries and other foods since the 1920s - and it is safe to eat.

In Australia, growers are also permitted to use four other approved waxes:

  1. beeswax 901
  2. shellac 904
  3. white mineral oil 905a or
  4. petroleum jelly 905b.

But Carnauba is the main one used.

Due to its low allergenicity and great shine, Carnauba has been exported from Brazil in huge quantities and is also used in many non-food products eg in skincare products, sunscreens, lipsticks, lip gloss, mascara, as well as a glossy coating for many tablets to help people swallow them.

It is the main wax used to wax surfboards. So it's not just apples that you'd have to avoid if you wished to avoid the wax.

Alternatives

If you don't wish to eat any wax, you can buy unwaxed apples (often at farmers' markets or direct from the grower when the apple season is in swing). Or you can simply peel a waxed apple and discard the peel. Of course, you will be discarding most of the fibre and some of the vitamins and minerals too which is a shame.

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Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.

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