MechChem Africa
bio-based disinfectants: a development journey:
October 8, 2018
Water is our most valuable resource
water – worth more than oil or gold
October 22, 2018
Disinfectants can clean our food

the red, shiny apple conundrum

There’s just something so appealing about a shiny piece of fruit. It entices you to take a bite out of it, feeling as though you’ve just plucked it from a tree. But of course it hasn’t just been picked – it’s been coated with chemicals and waxes to not only last longer on the shelves but look glossy and nutritious. But it’s fruit right? How can you go wrong eating a piece of fruit?

what’s on your fruit?

Today there is a lot more awareness around getting rid of toxins and chemicals in our life, with many bloggers offering solutions. But how many of these are actually effective. Does a rinse under the tap do it or even some of the products on offer to ‘wash’ the chemicals off?

Some people wash their chicken before cooking it, thinking they’re killing any potential bacteria but they’re actually spreading potentially dangerous pathogens all over their kitchen sink. A lot depends on just what fruit or food has been treated with and how deep any pesticides have sunk into the outer layer. The outer layer of fruit doesn’t always form an impermeable barrier and some pesticides are specifically designed to penetrate their skin.

So it boils down to what chemicals and pesticides are used and just how harmful they are to the consumer? Here are some examples of what’s being used and their purpose:

  • Insecticides: Reduce destruction and contamination of growing and harvested crops by insects and their eggs
  • Herbicides: Also known as weed killers, these improve crop yields
  • Rodenticides: Important for controlling destruction and contamination of crops by vermin and rodent-borne diseases
  • Fungicides: Especially important for protecting harvested crops and seeds from fungal rot

protective legislation – is it effective?

Each one of the above plays an important role in protecting the food and the farmer’s output and livelihood but how do we know how much of these we’re ingesting?

The Department of Agriculture and Forestry regulates what can be sprayed with the Health Department regulating maximum residual levels allowable in food.

Regulation 246 allows a permissible limit on certain crops and certain pesticides which amount to micrograms per kilogram – extremely small amounts. But the issue is who is monitoring how these pesticides are being used?

According to Burt Rodrigues, CEO of Biodx “The real problem is that budgets often don’t stretch to cover the costs of enforcing this legislation. This industry is critical and we should be building new laboratories and employing young scientists to create a critical mass for future food security for the consumer.

To solve this overall problem the answer lies in the concentration of preservatives applied to the fruit that it does its job without posting a danger to human consumption.”

the Roundup/Monsanto issue

In the last weeks an American court awarded R4 229 million to a terminally ill former school groundsman who contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014, due, he said, to repeated exposure to Roundup and another Monsanto product, Ranger Pro.

As if things for Monsanto couldn’t be worse this was followed by reports that glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup was being used in popular children’s breakfast cereals and snacks – some of which are available in SA.

no surprise for Rodrigues

Many of the compounds used in these products are not biodegradable. In the early days of Biodx research when the CSIR initially tested the citrus (our active ingredient) from fruit we provided we found an extremely active compound which we were very excited about. On closer analysis we found this active compound wasn’t natural and not from the citrus. It was actually Roundup that had been put on the citrus during its growth and hadn’t been removed before juicing. This obviously led us to understand that Roundup has implications far beyond its use – which is a problem.

Even though the fruit was pre-washed with clean water prior to squeezing the active ingredient, Roundup leeches to the citrus to such an extent that it’s still present in the extracted juice. This is why Biodx has to buy organic fruit to process its DECONT-A™ and DECONT-X™.”