Misinformation is everywhere online when it comes to our health. People misread or misunderstand information, or they make it up entirely, causing panic and stress for those simply trying to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. Recently, a product that has been subject to this misinformation is Apeel – a coating designed to fight food waste by keeping produce fresh for longer. Here’s what you need to know.
Apeel: What Is It?
Apeel is a tech startup created in California in 2012. The current CEO and company founder James Rogers started it in an effort to combat the problem of global food waste. There would be less waste if fresh produce had a stronger shelf life. For this, he created Apeel, a plant-based coating for fruits and vegetables that slows water loss and oxidation, therefore extending shelf-life. He received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for $100,000 to get the company up and running. (1, 2)
The compound is delivered as a powder to partners, who add water and then put it on the produce. It is made of purified monoglycerides and diglycerides, which the company says are edible compounds found in many foods. They extract them from the pulp, peels, and seeds from many plants. The company calls this “food protecting your food”. It is used on some products in the United States, Canada, the UK, and Europe.
What Are Mono- and Diglycerides?
Monoglycerides and diglycerides are edible fatty acids that are used in food products as emulsifiers or thickeners. They can also be used as an alternative to trans fats (which are now banned in many countries). Though they occur naturally in foods, companies also use them as additives in products to improve texture and also prevent fat and water separation. Monoglycerides and diglycerides are often used in baked goods, ice cream, candy bars, chewing gum and other types of candy. They can also be found in foods like peanut butter, margarine and salad dressings. (3)
Apeel: What Is Being Said About It?
Some pretty hefty, though completely uninformed, claims have been spread around by social media users about Apeel. Many of them make claims based on information that isn’t even about the same product. You will see headlines claiming this, like ‘Bill Gates is Poisoning Your Produce.‘ They often reference a product sheet that says it can cause serious eye and skin damage. This is inaccurate.
First of all, Bill Gates is really not involved in the project. His foundation was an early investor in Apeel, which is the extent of his involvement. Secondly, the claims that mono- and diglycerides are dangerous chemicals are also unfounded. They are naturally occurring in many foods and are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. We generally consume fats in the form of triglycerides in our diets. However, after they are consumed, they break down into mono and diglycerides during the digestive process.
Finally, the claims being made based on a product fact sheet (many users have even shared this on their social media) is about an entirely different product made by a different company that happens to have the same name. The fact sheet is of another product, also called Apeel but made by UK-based company Evans Vanodine. This is a cleaning product for hard surfaces and in most Instagram posts sharing this fact sheet you can even see the URL of that company in the screenshot.
Apeel and Misinformed Public
This is just another example of don’t believe everything you read and make sure you do your own research and critical thinking before you share or believe what you see online. Bill Gates is not poisoning your produce, and Apeel is not a danger to your health- that is, unless you decide to start coating your produce in the other product called Apeel, which is a cleaner and degreaser. If you want to read the real product sheet for Apeel, the product designed to combat food waste, you can find it here in several languages.
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- “Plant-based protection that helps the produce you love stay fresh for longer..” Apeel
- “Bill Gates is not poisoning your produce with Apeel.” Politi Fact. Jeff Cercone. April 24, 2023.
- “What Are Monoglycerides and Are They Safe to Consume?” Healthline. Carly Vandergriendt . October 11, 2017