Frequently Asked Questions
Apple Storage Technologies
Apples & Pesticides
Genetically Engineered Apples
Apples & Wax
Why Do Apples Turn Brown?
Apples that are cut or bruised will naturally brown in response to the “injury” of being cut. The degree to which an apple browns depends upon that variety´s natural levels of polyphenoloxydase (PPL) and Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The lower the level of PPL, the less the variety will brown. Conversely, the higher the level of vitamin C, the less the variety will brown. Coating apple slices and dices with lemon juice or a mixture of half water and half lemon juice can slow the browning process. And, here’s a nifty trick: Most 100% apple juices sold in stores are fortified with vitamin C, so you can retain more apple flavor by using apple juice instead of lemon juice to prevent browning.
How Does The U.S. Apple Industry Store Apples?
The U.S. apple industry uses two types of storage technology to ensure you receive the best quality apples any time of year. We use regular cold storage—like your own refrigerator—for short−term storage, and we use special, controlled atmosphere, or C.A., storage for longer storage. CA storage is a very natural process that is essentially like the apples taking a prolonged nap. Our atmosphere is 21% oxygen, 0.25% carbon dioxide, plus nitrogen and other minor gases. Like humans, apples “breathe” in the ripening process, and thus depend on oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Any interference with or slowing of the intake of oxygen will slow down the apples´ natural ripening process. This is where the high−tech science of storing apples comes in. Cold Storage: Each year, growers pick their apples at just the right time in the ripening cycle, when the apples are firm and will hold over a period of time but aren´t sour or starchy. The apples are then rushed to cold storage warehouses, consisting of large refrigerated storerooms, where the temperature is kept at 32 degrees and high humidity is maintained. This ideal refrigerated climate slows down but does not stop the ripening process. Most apples put in regular cold storage are sold by late January or early February, and the apples remain refrigerated on transfer trucks, grocery storage rooms, and then in produce aisles. Regular cold storage is less expensive than controlled atmosphere storage, so apple packers utilize cold storage wisely. Controlled Atmosphere Storage: Remembering that apples take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide, Dr. Robert Smock of Cornell University in 1940 experimented with reducing oxygen and increasing carbon dioxide in storage facilities, resulting in the development of a new storage technology called controlled atmosphere (CA) storage. CA storage requires air−tight, refrigerated warehouse rooms that are sealed after the apples are placed inside. The oxygen content in the storeroom air is reduced from 21% to 2.5%, and the carbon dioxide level is increased from 0.25% to 2−5%, and high humidity is maintained. The CA process radically reduces the ripening process, thus allowing us to provide great−tasting U.S. apples year round. Since CA storage is more costly per bushel, only the apples we need to maintain a supply until the next harvest are stored. CA rooms are opened and converted to regular cold storage rooms usually after the first of the year, depending on demand and supply conditions.
Why Use Pesticides?
Apples are threatened by more than 40 different insects, diseases, fungi and other conditions that attack the tree or the fruit that it produces. To ensure that you will always have access to high−quality, pest−free apples at a reasonable price, apple growers must take steps to protect their trees and fruit from injury or destruction by apple pests. Conscious of environmental and food safety concerns, a majority of apple growers report that they practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is a method of managing pests that combines different types of pest control methods − biological, cultural, chemical and mechanical − to reduce the possibility of harm to people, the tree and its fruit, and the environment. Under an IPM program, pesticides are used only when warranted. When pesticides are used, growers are required by law to follow manufacturers´ strict instructions for the pesticide’s use.
Are Apples Treated With Pesticides Safe?
Most pesticides become inactive or are removed long before an apple reaches your table. U.S. Department of Agriculture surveys of pesticide residues on foods have shown year after year that most apples are practically residue−free, and when a residue can be found it is consistently at levels well below government−established safety standards. Numerous health organizations, including the Surgeon General, the American Cancer Society and the American Dietetic Association, report there is a far greater health risk from not eating fruits and vegetables than from any theoretical risk that might be posed by consuming trace amounts of pesticide residues that might be found on those foods. There are no reports in the United States of adverse health effects resulting from eating food treated legally with pesticides, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Where Do You Stand On Apples and Biotechnology?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2015 deregulated Arctic® brand apples, which means those specific apples, which are produced using biotechnology, are now being grown for commercial production and are currently sold in the marketplace. USDA declared in its review that Arctic® apples are just like any other apple except for their non-browning trait. Arctic® apples offer the same nutrition benefits as non-GMO apples. Browning is a natural process that happens when an apple is exposed to oxygen. Arctic® apples do not include genes from other species but use apple-to-apple biotechnology to silence—or “turn off”—the gene in apples that causes browning. To continue discovering new and valuable benefits from apples, USApple supports advancements from technology including genetics and genomics research. Benefits can include attributes such as quality, new varieties, new aromatic flavor profiles, improved pest resistance, and enhanced nutrition. USApple supports consumer choice in the apples and apple products they select. Consumers will be able to decide whether to try the new, “non-browning” apples, and ultimately, the marketplace will determine whether there is a demand for them. Because it will be several years before Arctic® apples become available in large quantities, consumers will have time to decide whether they want to purchase them. All other apples are non-GMO and will remain in the market for shoppers to continue buying. And, the company that developed Arctic® apples asserts its Arctic® brand will be clearly marketed and sold under the Arctic® label, allowing consumers to make informed purchase decisions. For more Arctic® brand information, visit Okanagan Specialty Fruits. As a non-GMO, low-browning alternative, many varieties of apples are available in stores that are very low browning. There are also simple methods to slow the browning process, such as lightly coating sliced or cut apples with Vitamin C-fortified apple juice (most apple juice is Vitamin C-fortified). U.S. Apple Association strongly supports consumption of all apples and apple products as part of a healthy lifestyle. Apples grown in the United States are healthy, delicious, and provide essential antioxidants that are linked to prevention of multiple chronic diseases. All apples and apple products offer nutritional benefits proven to reduce or prevent diseases including Alzheimer’s; asthma; breast, colon, and liver cancer; heart disease; and Type II Diabetes. As part of a healthy lifestyle, apple consumption can also help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight, improved skin health, lung function, and cognitive abilities. For more information, visit our health nutrition page.
Why Are Apples Waxed?
If you walked out into an orchard, picked an apple from the tree and rubbed that apple on your shirt, you would notice that it shined − you´ve just polished the natural wax that an apple produces to protect its high water content. Without wax, fruits and vegetables like apples would lose their appealing crispness and moisture through normal respiration and transpiration − eventually leaving them soft and dry. After harvest, apples are washed and brushed to remove leaves and field dirt before they are packed for shipping to your local market. This cleaning process removes the fruit´s original wax coating, so to protect the fruit, many apple packers will reapply a commercial grade wax. One pound of wax may cover as many as 160,000 pieces of fruit; perhaps two drops is the most wax covering any apple. Waxes have been used on fruits and vegetables since the 1920s. They are all made from natural ingredients and are certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to be safe to eat. They come from natural sources including carnauba wax, from the leaves of a Brazilian palm; candelilla wax, derived from reed−like desert plants of the genus Euphorbia; and food−grade shellac, which comes from the lac bug found in India and Pakistan. These waxes are also approved for use as food additives for candy and pastries (this is why your chocolate bars melt in your mouth but not in your hand). Commercial waxes do not easily wash off because they adhere to any natural wax remaining on the fruit after cleaning. Waxed produce can be scrubbed gently with a vegetable brush in lukewarm water and rinsed prior to eating.
What's The Difference Between 100% Apple Juice, “Cocktails”, “Beverages” or “Drinks” ?
Be sure to select 100% apple juice − anything less just doesn´t measure up. Only 4 ounces counts as a daily fruit serving, getting you on your way to eating the Dietary Guidelines recommended five daily fruit servings. Juices that contain less than 100% apple juice will be labeled as “juice beverages,” “juice cocktails,” or “juice drinks.” These imposters often have loads of added sugars and flavors. Check the Nutrition Facts on your juice´s label for the required declaration of percentage juice content − if it doesn´t say “100% juice,” take a pass!
How Can I Be Sure The Apple Juice I'm Drinking Is Safe?
The apple juice industry is committed to producing premium, healthful, good−for−you products. Consumers can be assured that extensive steps are taken to ensure the safety of juice products. All juice companies must comply with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations known as the juice HACCP, meaning Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. The HACCP regulation requires juice companies to evaluate their processes, ingredients and packaging, and monitor for biological, physical and chemical risks that could possibly occur in food processing. Juice processing facilities are inspected by federal and state agencies. These requirements also extend to processors who export juice concentrate to the U.S. Sampling and testing is also done by juice processors and third−party sources to validate the safety of the ingredients and the final product, both domestic and internationally. Apple juice is pasteurized, just like milk, to prevent contamination, as required by regulations. If the juice is unpasteurized, it must be declared on the product label.
How Do I Know Which Apple Juice Products Contain Imported Concentrate?
Country−of−origin labeling is required by law on juices made from imported concentrate. The identifying label gives consumers the ability to make informed decisions about the products they purchase. There are a variety of apple juice products in the marketplace, both made “from concentrate” and “not from concentrate.”
Does Juice Concentrate Produced In Countries Other Than The U.S. Pose A Greater Risk To Consumers?
No. Regardless of country of origin, all juice products sold in the U.S. must be safe and are subject to the HACCP requirements. In addition, the FDA and individual juice producers regularly monitor and test imported fruit juice to assure its safety.
Why Does The U.S. Import Apple Juice Concentrate Made In Foreign Countries?
Apple juice concentrate is imported into the U.S. for the purpose of making apple juice because most U.S. apples are grown for the fresh produce market or for applesauce rather than for juice processing. Apple juice concentrate has been safely imported into the U.S. from countries including China, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and a number of countries in the European Union for more than 30 years without any reported food safety incidents.
Are Media Reports About Arsenic In Apple Juice True?
Apple juice, which contains water, naturally contains trace levels of arsenic because arsenic is a naturally-occurring element found in water. Test results publicized on the Dr. Oz Show wrongly indicated that there may be harmful levels of arsenic found in apple juice. Subsequent testing of the same lots of juice from two of the named brands on the show, using an appropriate method for testing arsenic levels in juice, found levels of arsenic all well under any FDA level of concern. The test results reported by the Dr. Oz Show were based upon a method intended for testing water. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a specific method for testing fruit juice because juice contains many more naturally occurring compounds than water. In addition, comparing the trace levels of arsenic in apple juice to the regulatory guidelines for drinking water are not appropriate because regulatory agencies have set lower thresholds for drinking water than for food and other beverages because people consume larger amounts of water.
What Do Reports About Arsenic In Apple Juice Really Mean?
Naturally occurring elements such as arsenic are present in the soil, air and water. Therefore, arsenic is found in very low, harmless levels in many foods and beverages.
Is It True That Some Apple Juice Products Contain More Arsenic Than Drinking Water?
Drinking water standards should not be used as the benchmark for testing for arsenic in foods and beverages. Regulatory agencies have set lower thresholds for drinking water than for food and other beverages because people consume larger amounts of water. Additionally, the FDA has established specific testing methodologies that should be used for testing juice. These test methods are different than those for water because juice contains many more naturally occurring compounds.
What Are The Current FDA Limits For Arsenic In Apple Juice?
The FDA in 2013, out of an abundance of caution, lowered the allowable level from 23ppb to 10 parts per billion (ppb) for the presence of inorganic arsenic in apple juice. Two forms of arsenic—organic and inorganic—are found in trace levels in many foods and beverages derived from nature. The FDA monitors levels of inorganic arsenic in apple juice because organic arsenic presents no toxicity. Through its comprehensive Total Diet Study program, the Food and Drug Administration evaluates the levels of trace elements, nutrients and other substances in a wide variety of foods and beverages. The purpose of the study is to monitor levels of substances in the U.S. food supply and estimate their dietary intakes in the U.S. population. Data related to arsenic in apple juice, as well as for many other foods, have been routinely collected for the Total Diet Study since 1991. The most recent FDA Total Diet Study published in 2014 reported arsenic was undetectable in almost 85-percent of apple juice samples. In the few samples where trace levels were detected, the average arsenic content of bottled apple juice was barely present at a low 2 parts per billion (ppb), well below the FDA’s conservative allowable level of 10ppb.
Is Any Amount Of Arsenic In Food Or Drinks Safe To Consume?
Arsenic is not harmful in the trace amounts that it is found in naturally sourced foods and beverages. Federal regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evaluate scientific data to determine levels that are safe in foods and beverages. The data collected by the FDA indicate there is absolutely no safety concern for apple juice or juice concentrate.
Do Other Juices Contain Arsenic?
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in the soil, water and air. It can be present in trace amounts in many foods and beverages that are derived from natural sources, including other fruit juices.
Do Organic Juices Contain Arsenic?
Both conventionally produced and organically produced fruit juices are safe and may contain trace levels of arsenic that are not harmful.
What Exactly Is Arsenic?
Arsenic is a naturally-occurring element in our environment. It is widely distributed within the earth’s crust, in rocks and metals, and also occurs in combination with other elements such as oxygen, chlorine, and sulfur. It enters the environment through both natural and manmade sources. For more information, please visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the Juice Products Association.
What Is The Difference Between Apple Juice and Apple Cider?
The definitions of “juice” and “cider” vary from region to region. Apple cider is freshly pressed, not−from−concentrate juice that may or may not undergo a filtration process to remove coarse pulp. Most cider is pasteurized but perishable and is often found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. Apple juice may be from concentrate and has been filtered, pasteurized, and vacuum sealed to give a longer lasting, shelf stable, clear product.
What Are The Health Benefits of Drinking Apple Juice and Apple Cider?
Both apple juice and apple cider are valuable sources of nutrients and antioxidants that help to fight chronic disease and to promote good health in kids and adults. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts−Lowell have shown that apple juice and cider have a powerful effect on brain function and may improve cognition. Other studies from Cornell University and University of California−Davis suggest that those nutrients may also protect against cancer and heart disease. 100 percent juices such as apple juice and apple cider are considered a fruit serving per USDA Dietary Guidelines. Parents can feel comfortable encouraging their families to drink 100 percent apple juice as part of a safe and healthy diet.