Why do blueberries look dusty

Fruit: What is hidden behind the white film on plums and grapes

The whitish coating on plums or grapes as well as the unusual sheen of apples in the fruit department puzzles many consumers. Where does the white film or the greasy wax layer on fruit and vegetables come from and is it harmless to health? We explain what this topping is all about.

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A natural protection

In fact, the white surface is of natural origin. Plums and grapes form the so-called "scent film" to protect against dehydration. The waxy layer on apples is also a natural protective layer. "Almost all foods have a more or less thin layer of wax that protects them from pathogens and dehydration," explains Dr. Markus Nöthen from the Federal Association of Producer Organizations Fruit and Vegetables (BVEO) in Bonn. "This natural wax layer is not harmful to humans and is removed by washing," explains the expert. Some apple varieties, for example Jonagold, have a particularly high level of in-house wax production. "If an apple becomes greasy, that is an indication that it has exceeded its optimal degree of ripeness," says Nöthen. Because the fruit increasingly forms an evaporation protection in order to preserve the moisture inside.

Labeling for artificially waxed fruit

The wax layer can, however, also be produced artificially with coating agents in order to extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetables. Beeswax, shellac, candelilla wax and carnauba wax, among others, are permitted. In addition to apples, it also treats pears, citrus fruits, melons, pineapples and peaches. The use of wax is regulated in an EU directive. "All apples waxed after the harvest, regardless of their origin, must be labeled accordingly at the sales points," explains Nöthen. But usually only imported apples are waxed. Artificially growing apples is not common in Germany. Plums and plums are also not treated with wax in Germany.

Warm water and kitchen towel

Artificial wax layers should be thoroughly removed before eating the fruit, as they may contain pesticide residues. "A kitchen towel that has previously been moistened with warm water is suitable for removing the wax layer. The fruit should be carefully dabbed off," advises Nöthen. If the topping is too stubborn, it is sufficient to simply polish the fruit a little more firmly. The use of detergent is not necessary.