Produce suppliers are now using a chemical “freshness preserver technology” on your fruits and vegetables … but is it SAFE?
02/19/2018 // Edsel Cook // Views

You may want to reconsider biting into that fresh apple. A GreenMedInfo article sounded the alarm about a cancer-causing, gene-damaging chemical liberally used by suppliers as a "freshness preserver technology" for fruits and vegetable.

Used by the U.S. and more than forty countries, the carcinogenic and genotoxic chemical is made by AgroFresh Solutions, Inc., and it goes by many trade names.

It's patented as SmartFresh Technology if it's applied to produce after the harvest. It goes by the name Harvista in apple and pear orchards, and bananas know it as RipeLock.

No matter the name of the product, the active ingredient remains the same. SmartFresh uses 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), a synthetic chemical that tricks fruits and vegetables into delaying their ripening by up to a year.

Manufacturer AgroFresh Solutions hawks SmartFresh/RipeLock/Harvista as a way to "reduce fruit waste" and "maintain texture, firmness, taste, and appearance of fruits by warding off negative ethylene effects."

Because it preserves the fresh look and taste of produce, SmartFresh lets distributors keep fruits and vegetables in storage for much longer. Growers also get to profit as well by selling in-demand varieties of their crops outside of their usual seasons of growth.

A "non-toxic, no-risk" chemical that explodes

According to its manufacturer, SmartFresh is "non-toxic" and “poses no risk to humans, animals or the environment, when used as recommended.” It's already received approval for use on 12 types of fruits, including apples, mangoes, melons, peaches, pears, and tomatoes.


GreenMedInfo pointed out, however, that the SmartFresh instruction manual tells users to "wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes, socks, chemical-resistant gloves and safety glasses or goggles" when applying the chemical to produce.

Furthermore, a 2005 peer review and meta-analysis by the EU and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) noted that "high concentrations" of 1-MCP is known to become "energetically self-reactive and becomes explosive if it is allowed to warm in a closed container." This study was published in the EFSA Journal.

From a logical standpoint, the terms "chemically-resistant gloves and safety glasses or goggles" and "explosive" shouldn't be associated with a supposedly "non-toxic" SmartFresh that "poses no risk to humans." And yet there is startlingly scarce information on its potential ill effects.

Part of the reason comes from the difficulty in studying 1-MCP. The joint EU-EFSA study already warned that high concentrations of 1-MCP tend to explode if it gets warm, making its safe storage difficult.

There is also a widespread belief that 1-MCP is non-toxic. There are no available studies on the effects of feeding 1-MCP-treated foods to animals and no reports on its long-term exposure to humans, neurotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity.

"No analytical methods for the determination of residues in soil and water have been required since 1-methylcyclopropene is a gas and it is unlikely to reach these compartments," admitted the EU-EFSA researchers in their report. (Related: Glyphosate from Monsanto’s Roundup decimates microbes in soils and the human gut – new science.)

1-MCP impurities are carcinogenic

The only available human reactive data came from inhalation studies. According to the EU-EFSA researchers, 10% of 1-MCP inhaled by persons would enter the bloodstream through the lungs.

They did not find any overt evidence that 1-MCP itself is acutely toxic. They did, however, note the presence of two impurities that did prove to be carcinogenic and genotoxic.

"However, two impurities, 1-chloro-2-methylpropene (1-CMP) and 3-chloro2-methylpropene (3-CMP)… are reported to give positive results in genotoxicity studies and are carcinogenic. Thus, a classification of 1-MCP as T-R46 is proposed," the reporters stated.

According to the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCSO), the label T stands for "Toxic" while R46 stands for "May cause heritable genetic damage." (Related: Why the cancer industry doesn’t want you to learn the truth about anti-cancer foods: Combination of apple peel, turmeric root and grape skins found to BEAT prostate cancer.)

GreenMedInfo urges greater attention be given to studying the potential cancer-causing effects of SmartFresh and 1-MCP, especially since it's entered widespread use since the 2000s.

Sources include:

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