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I have a small orange tree in my backyard here in Northern California. It’s already had two near death experiences as it is planted on a lawn area and tends to get overwatered. I managed to revive it both times and I am now overly protective of it. We recently had a heat wave of sorts, with temperatures climbing in the mid-70’s during the day and high 50’s at night. I noticed that some of the bright orange fruit started to regreen.


The green is due to chlorophyll produced on the peel of the orange to protect it from sunburn. Cold night time temperatures cause citrus to show deep orange color, and when the weather warms up, normally in late spring and early summer but sometimes even in the middle of the winter, the citrus tends to regreen.


The green color has no impact on flavor but consumers in the U.S. associate green color with immature fruit and avoid it. Oranges grown in tropical climates as well as regions with high winter temperatures such as Florida tend to be either completely or partially green. However, I doubt that anyone has ever seen green Florida oranges at the supermarket. So what is going on?


Enter Citrus Red #2, Carnauba wax and Shellac resin. Citrus Red #2 is an artificial dye permitted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1956 to color the skin of oranges. Citrus Red #2 is listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a group 2B carcinogen, a substance “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.


Carnauba wax is a wax of the leaves of a palm native and grown only in Brazil. Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. Many Florida oranges are dipped in Citrus Red #2 and then coated with an emulsion that contains ammonia, sometimes morpholine (a substance not allowed in the European Union) carnauba wax, shellac and other chemicals to make the fruit bright orange and shiny and longer lasting. The coating cannot be washed off without the use of chemicals.


At Akorn we make coatings with all-natural, plant-based, non-GMO materials and water. Our coatings double or triple the shelf life of fruits and vegetables the natural way, by helping the produce retain moisture and slow down respiration. Our coatings also control rot and mold and prevent decay for many fruits that have the tendency to rot before we can get to them such as peaches and nectarines. They give the produce a clean but not overly shiny look – the “polyurethane” finish on fruit is probably not what the consumers of the 21st century are looking for.


Finally, our coatings have absolutely no effect on taste or smell but if you so desire, you can simply wash them off.


Yeah, we do make good food, better.

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