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Produce with This Sticker Has an 'Ultrathin' Microlayer Funded by Bill Gates

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It sounds like a win-win situation: A “plant-based” treatment that keeps produce fresh longer, resulting in less of it going to waste.

The company that produces the substance claims its use will help conserve resources such as water as it mitigates climate change.

But some consumers are not so sure about the new treatment, known as Apeel.

The Apeel website touts its product as a colorless, odorless and tasteless coating made of purified mono- and diglycerides that “creates an optimal microclimate inside every piece of produce, which leads to extended shelf life.”

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It shows impressive time-lapse photography with side-by-side examples of avocados in which the untreated fruit turns shriveled and moldy and gross while the treated version still looks fresh and — well, appealing.

According to the company’s website, Apeel-treated avocados, limes and apples — including organic varieties — are now being carried “at major U.S. grocery stores.”

Apeel-treated avocados and citrus are being sold in Europe. Canadian stores are carrying cucumbers treated with the substance.

“But that’s just the beginning,” the website promises.

Would you eat produce treated with Apeel?

So what objection could anyone possibly have to such a miraculous-sounding technology?

The fact that Bill Gates’ name is associated with the product’s development is a no-go for many people. They distrust the billionaire, who has bought up extensive swaths of American farmland and heavily invested — to the tune of $1.75 billion — in COVID vaccine technology.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation website confirms that the organization pledged more than $985,000 in 2015  to the development of “aPEEL Technology, Inc.,” explaining its purpose was to “extend the shelf-life of crops without refrigeration and protect them from being eaten by pests by developing a molecular camouflage that uses cutin from plant extracts to create an edible, ultrathin barrier on the crop surfaces.”

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There’s another assertion going around, quoting what appears to be an official Apeel fact sheet, claiming that the product can cause eye damage and allergic skin reactions. But that tale has been “fact-checked” by The Associated Press and deemed false. The fact sheet that has circulated on social media is for a cleaning product by the same name, Apeel, which is produced in the U.K., according to the AP report.

Another objection some people have is that the coating can’t be washed off, requiring consumers to trust the company’s assurances that it is safe and effective.

Apeel confirmed this on its website. “You could likely remove some of Apeel with water and scrubbing, but it’s unlikely that you’d be able to remove all of it without damaging the fruit or vegetable,” the website said. “It wouldn’t maintain the fruit’s natural freshness if it was easily removed.”

But the company hastened to assure consumers, “For that reason, we only use food ingredients to make Apeel, so it’s safe to eat along with the fruit.”

So what are shoppers to do if they don’t want to purchase produce with a coating they can’t wash off?

It comes down to doing what most careful consumers already do: checking the label.

“We work with our partner to ensure Apeel produce is labeled so you can make informed decisions,” the company’s website says.

“When considering what produce to buy, check the label and corresponding signage for the Apeel mark.”

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Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.
Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.




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