Apples to Apples

iStock_000009670130_Medium.jpgEnvironmental Working Group recently posted a report on apples, especially the differences between American and European apples. This sounds like it could be the intricate thesis of a botany student, but the information in this report reaches into most homes and lunch rooms across our country. EWG reports that a chemical used for post-harvest processing, which has been banned for many years in Europe, is still alive and well in the U.S. 

Diphenylamine, known as DPA,  is used to prevent apples from going bad in storage. That seems like a good thing, right? Well, not when DPA could also cause cancer! In his article last week in Mother Jones Tom Philpott writes:

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.

The solution, for the time being, is to seek out organic apple products (raw apples, juices, apple sauce) and avoid conventional apples, which could contain levels of DPA that are 100 times higher than the legal limit in Europe. The longer term solution is to pressure the EPA to reassess the safety of DPA.  Sonya Lunder at EWG writes:

EWG believes that the European regulators have taken the steps necessary to protect their citizens from avoidable health risks. The federal Food Quality Protection Act requires that EPA review pesticides every 15 years to ensure they pose no harm to people. EPA hasn’t reviewed DPA since 1998, 16 years ago. The agency should immediately initiate a new review of the chemical. Without better information about nitrosamine formation on raw and cooked apples, it cannot prove that DPA exposures are safe.”

Tom Philpott gives a synopsis of the report in Mother Jones, and the actual report is on the EWG website. Both are worth reading.


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson

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