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red delicious  Sonita Lewis

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Why American Apples Just Got Banned in Europe

| Wed Apr. 23, 2014 9:01 PM PDT

Back in 2008, European Food Safety Authority began pressing the chemical industry to provide safety information on a substance called diphenylamine, or DPA. Widely applied to apples after harvest, DPA prevents “storage scald”—brown spots that “becomes a concern when fruit is stored for several months,” according to Washington State University, reporting from the heartland of industrial-scale apple production.

DPA isn’t believed to be harmful on its own. But it has the potential to break down into a family of carcinogens called nitrosamines—not something you want to find on your daily apple. And that’s why European food safety regulators wanted more information on it. The industry came back with just “one study that detected three unknown chemicals on DPA-treated apples, but it could not determine if any of these chemicals, apparently formed when the DPA broke down, were nitrosamines,” Environmental Working Group shows in an important new report. (The EFSA was concerned that DPA could decay into nitrosamines under contact with nitrogen, a ubiquitous element, EWG notes.) Unsatisfied with the response, the EFSA banned use of DPA on apples in 2012. And in March, the agency then slashed the tolerable level of DPA on imported apples to 0.1 parts per million, EWG reports.

 

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Most apples in the US drenched with chemical banned in Europe

Published time: April 24, 2014 23:06

AFP Photo / Remy Gabalda

AFP Photo / Remy Gabalda

A chemical used on most non-organic American apples that preserves the fruit’s color after harvest was banned by the European Union in 2012 because its makers could not prove it did not put human health at risk, according to a new study.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) found in 2010 that 80 percent of apples harvested in the United States are coated with diphenylamine, or DPA, a “growth regulator” that works to stave off darkening of the fruit’s skin during months of cold storage.

DPA, regulated as a pesticide, has been used in the US since 1962. The USDA has reported that DPA residue is found more often and at greater concentrations that most other pesticide residues. The chemical has been detected in apple juice and applesauce, as well as pears and pear baby food. In fact, the USDA has consistently found that apples are one of the most pesticide-treated products in the American produce market.

Beginning in 2008, the EU’s European Commission asked European producers of DPA to prove nitrosamines – a family of powerful carcinogens – and other harmful substances would not develop from a mixture of DPA and nitrogen, a common element in the environment. The Commission was interested in whether those formations occurred when containers of DPA sat unattended, when DPA was used to treat fruit for storage, or when DPA-doused fruit was made into juices, purees, and sauces.

 

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