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plastic wrap on food

A very common practice to coat fresh fruits and veges – including organic varieties with what the food industry calls edible plastic coatings. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) involves controlling or modifying the atmosphere surrounding the product to slow spoilage by coating the food with an ‘edible film’ to increase shelf life.

According to the FDA, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), which includes so-called "smart" and "edible" types of packaging has made great strides over the past decade or so, and has "greatly improved the quality and shelf-stability" of otherwise highly perishable produce.

While that may sound promising to industrial food types, to consumers these types of coatings do present a very real potential health hazard. The FDA openly admits that edible coatings have been associated with a number of problems including anaerobic fermentation of apples and bananas, rapid weight loss of tomatoes, rapid decay in cucumbers as well as the potential for growth of food borne pathogens.

While the verdict is still out on edible coatings, if you have a choice, why would you opt to eat fruits and vegetables that have been coated in a rubbery film? Buy local when possible and don't forget to ask your server at your favorite eatery if the salad bar contains vegetables that have been plasticized. If buying local is not an option, ask your grocer if the fruits and vegetables have a coating applied. Even fresh, non-coated/non-treated vegetables that have been conventionally grown will likely be healthier for you than wilted organic veggies from across the world, coated with plasticizers to keep them looking fresh.