Some companies have been able to delay this deterioration by applying edible coatings to export fruit. Now, how is the application of these treatments regulated? Here are the main aspects of the subject.
Additives and coatings in export fruit, who are the regulators?
In each country, public health entities are in charge of establishing health standards to process incoming and outgoing food, and fruit exporters must know and adapt to such regulations. However, macro-entities have established general guidelines.In this sense, there are essential international organizations dedicated to the matter, such as the Joint FAO / WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), which establishes export requirements that must meet in use additives.
And to ensure compliance with regulations at the local level, each country must issue Phytosanitary Certificates, which provide safety around foreign trade operations. Therefore, the regulation of additives or natural coatings in fruits, the standards for each country needs to be considered. In Chile’s case, the Ministry of Health (Minsal) is responsible for regulating this issue, establishing the Health Regulations’ necessary criteria.
Regulations in European countries
In Europe, there are bodies such as the EU Scientific Committee for Food ( SCF ). Its goal is to provide scientific support on the issue of food safety. And more recently, the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) was created as a scientific advisory agency.These entities establish the export requirements and necessary regulations that certify food quality and its additives (natural coatings), such as fruits or vegetables. And it must note that the European regulation on additives is quite extensive and rigorous.
In Spain, for example, Royal Decree 142/2002 detailed the positive list of additives and their conditions of use and preparation of food products. As indicated in article 8, additives applied to third-world countries must fully comply with these regulations under the Royal Decree. The above is a clear example of why fruit exporters must learn about the regulations and protect their products with elements approved by local and regional entities.
For consumers to learn about what they are eating, there is the “E” number in the European Union: numerical codes starting from 100, which identify the elements added to products such as fruits or vegetables. For example, colorings 100, preservatives 200, flavor intensity 300, etc. Thus, when a consumer reads this label, they can identify the food elements to be consumed. Also, it certifies that these do not pose any hazard to health.
Approved additives are defined by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a body linked to FAO and WHO. It uses JECFA-conducted safety analysis and evaluations to set the maximum additive levels used in food or beverages, including the fruit industry. The Codex rules serve as a guideline to establish other national standards and set the criteria for fair international trade by fruit exporters. Therefore, to make legitimate use of any additive or natural coating, the Codex Alimentarius should be consulted.
In this fashion, any consumer and company belonging to the fruit industry sector worldwide will have peace of mind and tangible proof that the food they consume and provide is of optimum quality.
Criteria for the authorization of an additive in positive lists
Must meet three criteria for the use of edible additives:
- The substance must be harmless. It must not represent a hazard to human health.
- It should not be misleading to the consumer. Any product containing a colorant or additive must provide clear information on the elements present.
- The additive should be technically necessary. The company will only use it if it fulfills a specific function.
Are there restrictions on the use of additives?
Of course, as long as they comply with the points described above, additives can be used considering the main objective is to protect fruits and vegetables for export, achieved through coatings that protect them from extending their shelf life. Now, in the case of Chile, the use of additives is restricted when their application:
- Significantly decreases the nutritional value of the food item.
- Disguises faulty quality or attempts to conceal unauthorized processing or handling techniques.
- Misleads the consumer regarding nature or quantity.
However, it is necessary to bear in mind that, in most countries, laws are amended according to new trends or advances in their fields of action. For this reason, it is convenient that both fruit importers and exporters keep up to date on the matter and use additives -such as coatings- that are authorized by local authorities.
Laws in favor of the environment and consumers
In recent years, European laws have strictly targeted the consumption of chemical-free and properly labeled agricultural products. The above, for total transparency and peace of mind for the consumer. On the other hand, the European Union sets strict organic farming policies to protect both people’s health and the environment.
Due to all of the above, it is not surprising that the European ecological requirement in the process chain becomes a precondition before formalizing commitments with fruit importers or exporters.
Shel-Life: the natural and easy-to-implement coating
Shel-Life is a 100% natural coating for fresh fruit made from plant-based ingredients that allows the fruit to remain with good quality longer, increasing sales ability in the shelf, and reducing the Fruit Waste linked to the products’ short lifecycle.
Shel-Life provides fruit exporters the possibility to offer products that stay healthy and attractive for longer. The above, in addition to the ecological impact, entailed.
Vicente Traviesa, PolyNatural’s sales manager -the brand behind this innovative product-,indicates that after 35 thousand tons of fruits coated with Shel-Life, companies have experienced savings of 157,041 m3 of water and reduced food waste (products wasted) by 273.6 tons.
Another exciting aspect of this natural solution relates to the compatibility of the product applied to the conventional post-harvest system since it is unnecessary to invest in significant equipment to deploy Shel-Life in any production line.
Shel-Life adapts to new demands
Countries like England, Germany, Norway, and others require suppliers not to add synthetic products to fruits. Due to the above, exports to those countries must be without any chemical coating. And the request arises from the demand of consumers at a global level.
For this reason, by coating and protecting fruits with Shel-Life, exporters will have no problem offering products that are free of synthetic elements, opening doors not only to these markets but also to others that adapt to new consumer trends and chemical-free foods.
Dilution is not required and can be applied by spraying in any production line.
This 100% natural coating for fresh fruit offers essential benefits for exporters:
- Its formulation is variable and can be adapted to various types of fruits.
- Extends the life cycle of the fruit where it is applied.
- Maintains its proper hydration and coloration.
- Reduces the decay/rot factor of the fruit.
These benefits result in conserving the environment, avoiding the waste of fruits, saving water, and reducing the carbon footprint.
Shel-Life is the ideal coating for fruit exporters to comply with international regulations and promote their products in various markets, such as Europe, whose focus is on chemical-free food.
With Shel-Life, from PolyNatural, it is possible to extend the life of fruits and increase export profitability. In addition to the above, this company only works with plant origin ingredients considered food-grade additives, entirely safe for human consumption, matching the demands of increasingly informed consumers.