GOLETA (CBSLA) — There’s nothing better than fresh fruit – except for how hard it is to eat all of it before they go bad. A Goleta lab has developed a spray-on coating that tackles that very problem.
In Goleta, Apeel chemists have developed a coating that acts as a second skin for produce. The company claims the compounds they use all come from plants, and there’s no need to wash it off before eating them.
“The concept of creating a barrier is not new,” USC food scientist Dr. Roger Clemens said. “Apples for generations have been coated with carnuba wax, carnuba wax that you put on your automobile. This is an edible form of carnuba wax.”
Most fruits start rotting as soon as they’re picked, even though they generally appear perfectly ripe when they’re on display in grocery stores.
“All produce is perishable,” said Jenny Deu, vice president of operations for Apeel. “In the U.S., we’re losing about 200 pounds of food per person per year.”
The spray-on coating that Apeel developed is made up of fruits and vegetables that people are already eating.
“In some ways, it’s like the reverse of cooking. We want to throw all these individual ingredients together to make a complex mixture,” Deu said. “How do you do that in reverse order so that you actually go down and, you know, isolate a very targeted set of ingredients?”
Chemists are especially interested in fat molecules that lock in moisture and keep out oxygen. The result is a spray that can extend the life of a banana for more than a week, an avocado for two weeks, and a mango for nearly a month.
“There’s less that you would throw away. More money that you would save,” Deu said.
Since the spray is made up of components people are already eating, Clemens says he doesn’t expect any adverse effects from ingesting the coating, which has already been deemed as “Generally Recognized As Safe” by the FDA.
Asparagus, limes and avocados sprayed with Apeel will show up in Ralphs and Costco stores early next year.