Ideally, if fruits are grown without chemicals and pesticides, all of them should be edible. Here I am talking about fruits I can buy from supermarkets in US. If considering remains of chemicals imposed by human, including pesticides, fertilizer, preservatives,etc, are their skins edible? Here are some examples.

Berries' skins are impossible to separate.

Grapes' skins are not easy to be separated although possible, and are said to contain many nutrition.

Apples' skins are easier to peel. But the gloss from its skins are said to be from some artificial chemicals such as wax, and there may be remains of other things.

Considering pros and cons, would you suggest eating the skins of grapes and of apples bought from US supermarkets?

  • Wait, what source did you get the information about the shine on the apples are from wax? I find that really hard to believe... why would they take to time to wax each apple and make it worse of a product in the process? – Jay Jan 10 '12 at 15:30
  • 1
    Many people told me. Waxing for lasting long and for attracting unaware customers like you. – Tim Jan 10 '12 at 15:36
  • 2
    I see. Although there are many edible forms of wax that is nontoxic. Such as the kind used in chapstick. – Jay Jan 10 '12 at 15:55
  • 1
    @Tim Washing fruits and veggies is not done with soap at all usually O.o I've never heard of using dish detergent to wash fruits. – Yamikuronue Jan 10 '12 at 16:36
  • 3
    Apple waxing: bestapples.com/facts/facts_waxing.shtml "Apples are washed at the fruit packing sheds to remove dust and chemical residues. This washing removes about half of the original apple wax which is replaced by a natural coating. The natural wax added to protect Washington apples is usually carnauba or shellac." – Wayfaring Stranger Jan 10 '12 at 17:18

The EPA regulates pesticides in the US, all the way from the use on the crop to the food you buy. From their website:

In setting the tolerance, EPA must make a safety finding that the pesticide can be used with "reasonable certainty of no harm." To make this finding, EPA considers

  • the toxicity of the pesticide and its break-down products

  • how much of the pesticide is applied and how often

  • how much of the pesticide (i.e., the residue) remains in or on food by the time it is marketed and prepared

EPA ensures that the tolerance selected will be safe. The tolerance applies to food imported into this country, as well as to food grown here in the U.S.

The site also includes other information, for example about the scientific evidence they require to make decisions.

So everything you can buy is safe in terms of pesticides.

The FDA regulates other aspects of produce safety, for example wax. They ensure that the food you can purchase is safe to consume (and not just produce). They have a summary page on fresh produce, which says:

Many vegetables and fruits make their own natural waxy coating. After harvest, fresh produce may be washed to clean off dirt and soil - but such washing also removes the natural wax. Therefore, waxes are applied to some produce to replace the natural waxes that are lost.


Waxes are used only in tiny amounts to provide a microscopic coating surrounding the entire product. Each piece of waxed produce has only a drop or two of wax.

Coatings used on fruits and vegetables must meet FDA food additive regulations for safety.

You should of course wash your produce to ensure safety - the FDA page also says this, and neither they nor the EPA claim your food will be safe if you don't. (A good washing will also generally remove the wax, as the FDA mentions.) But unless you actively distrust the EPA and FDA, you have no cause for concern, and you probably shouldn't trust anyone who tells you otherwise unless they have similarly conducted a thorough review of scientific evidence. (If you want to have a discussion about scientific evidence for safety/danger of a particular pesticide, this isn't really the right place.)

  • Thanks! How about regulations on residues of fertilizer? – Tim Jan 10 '12 at 18:43
  • @Tim: I'd expect that's under the EPA's purview as well, though they don't appear to have as obvious a page about it. Seriously, though, the US doesn't let companies sell you hazardous things to eat. It's just a matter of what agency regulates it. (Also, unlike pesticides, you don't try to put fertilizers on the produce. Only things that grow underground are going to get much on them.) – Cascabel Jan 10 '12 at 18:50

Most skins of apples and grapes and pears are expose to a chemical produced by The Dow Company while in shipment in containers or in a warehouse. This chemical reacts with the skin of the fruit to make it more plastic-like, so they will stay fresher longer. You can tell what's been exposed, since the skin is tough. I suggest to always remove the skin or grow your own. Not sure what to do with grapes.

  • 2
    Citation needed, unless this 'chemical' is wax, as described in my answer above. The only chemicals besides wax I know of that are used in coatings are fungicides (not universally used), but they're also safe in the cases they're used, and have nothing to do with making the skin plastic-like. If the skin is tough, it was probably that way to begin with, or it's dried out. (And drying out is more likely if the fruit isn't coated.) – Cascabel Mar 5 '14 at 22:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.