You know how apples go brown after you take a bite? Believe it or not, Aussies solved that, and a Canadian apple producer is taking advantage of it.
It’s great to see science put to use in food, and while some of the developments are about making food grow bigger, others are about keeping it lasting longer.
You might rely more on freezing and the special lighting inside your fridge to do all of that normally, but genetic science is something contributing to a longer shelf life for food.
In fact in Australia, at our special science division of the government, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation more commonly known as the “CSIRO”, the team has already made progress in these areas, we just might not be seeing it locally.
But in America and Canada, that research is being put to good use, as biotech company Okanagan Specialty Fruits is using a CSIRO technology to stop apples from going brown.
The company is releasing “Arctic Golden” apples pre-sliced and thrown into bags, and guess what? They’re not brown.
Developed in the 90s, CSIRO’s scientists developed a gene which blocks the production of polyphenol oxidase or “PPO”, the naturally occurring enzyme that reacts to other parts the apple’s cells and when broken causes the fibre to brown.
“I came across research from CSIRO that had managed to ‘turn off’ browning in potatoes,” said Neal Cartier, Founder of Okanagan Specialty Fruits.
“As an apple grower, I was very aware that apple consumption had been declining for decades while obesity rates had simultaneously been sharply rising,” he said.
“My wife and I felt that we could help boost apple consumption through a similar biotech approach with apples, as non-browning apples would be more appealing and convenient.”
The CSIRO’s constructed and inserted gene approach is different from the normal anti-browning approaches, which rely on coatings of vitamin C and calcium, though this can affect taste.
On the other hand, the CSIRO’s pretty much just leaves the apple the way it is, allowing it to evolve and prevent browning, leading to unnecessary disposal.
Overseas, the Arctic Golden apples will be the first to get them, though its producer expects other apple types to see the gene in the coming years, including Granny Smith and Fuji apples.
More locally, this is one spot of research that hasn’t found its way to Australian shops, with a representative for the CSIRO telling Pickr that “at this stage, there are no Australian companies using the technology in apples and no non-browning apples being imported into the country.”