Many different shelf-life extension technologies have emerged in recent years. One of them is a plant-based coating that slows water loss and oxidation, the primary causes of produce going to waste. “After fresh produce has been picked, it is being protected with a microscopic extra layer of what already naturally exists on fruits and vegetables,” says the website of Apeel, the company behind this technology. By maintaining moisture and reducing oxidation, the layer supports the plant’s natural abilities to protect against environmental stress. This coating is part of a growing suite of solutions offered by Apeel to help fresh produce suppliers and retailer safeguard their products, create a better produce experience, and ultimately sell more of what they grow and source.
For the past nine months, the company has been combatting disinformation on social media that is related to the safety of their products. “It all started in spring of this year when Apeel’s coating got confused with a cleaning product that is also called Apeel and being sold in the UK,” says Lauren Sweeney with Apeel. Social media posts were distorting the safety of Apeel’s coating, known as Edipeel, by conflating it with an unrelated cleaning product that shares a name with Apeel. On social media hazard statements were posted, stating that Apeel’s coating would cause serious eye damage, and may cause an allergic skin reaction.
While Apeel Sciences representatives emphasized their coating is not related to the cleaner and that it is safe to consume, the damage was done. “The name confusion received global attention and while it quickly stopped in most parts of the world, negativity continued in the United States,” commented Sweeney.
“Since then, further false claims have been spread around our manufacturing process and ingredients, as well as how postharvest solutions are disclosed when used on produce,” shared Sweeney. “This misleading information is motivating consumers to contact produce suppliers and retailers to inquire about their use of Apeel, and we are working diligently to help them address these questions. Fortunately, most of our direct customers understand the safety of Apeel’s products and have continued to support us. However, the disruption is an unnecessary pain point for their businesses.”
“The inaccuracy of the information spreading on social media has been fact-checked and debunked by almost 50 global news organizations, including USA Today, Snopes, Reuters, and The Associated Press,” Sweeney continued. They all have presented the facts and details of the situation. In addition, the company has been partnering with third parties who can help reach consumers with more accuracy. Simultaneously, the company has been focusing on creating greater transparency and a more straightforward explanation of “what it is” on the website. “We are doing everything in our power to make sure our commitment to creating safe, edible and nature-based solutions is understood, and to protect the integrity of our partners in the fresh food system,” Sweeney finished.