Ever wonder what’s in that wax often found on supermarket fruits and vegetables? According to Citizen Petition, waxed fruits and vegetables have been treated with fungicides that can cause numerous diseases including cancer, immune system deficiencies, mental disorders, sterility, heart disease, as well as birth defects.
Citizen Petition was a grass roots organization started by Mary Roy after she became ill for several months from pesticide residues on oranges. She found out, from the EPA, that “virtually all U.S. oranges are sprayed with fungicide ‘orthophenylphenol’ and are waxed.” This fungicide causes cancer, mutations, birth defects and damage to the immune system. Roy learned from the FDA about a federal law requiring warning signs in stores on waxed produce a law that was not being enforced anywhere. How could this be?Citizen Petition explains that in 1960, the industry pressured Congress to list postharvest pesticides on shipping containers only, rather than requiring stores to post signs. Congress agreed to this, but still required signs in stores listing the ingredients in wax. The states were supposed to enforce this posting, while the FDA continued to inspect shipping cartons for compliance. The kicker is this: 90% of the time packers apply fungicides before waxing, so they aren’t specifically in the wax. Therefore they are not required to be listed in waxed produce signs.
Citizen Petition was committed to changing this. So far only New Hampshire even requires signs to list wax ingredients, which can be petroleum, beeswax, or resin. New Hampshire signs that do list all postharvest spraying have indicated the presence of the fungicides benomyl, benzaflor, botran, d phenyl, imazilil, orthophenylamine, orthophenylphenol, sodium orthophenylpuae and thiabendazole.