For the love of fermenting

Written by Cyndi O'Meara

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.

April 3, 2024

Why won’t my Juice Ferment?

Over the past few weeks I’ve been spending a bit of extra time in the kitchen testing my Changing Habits Probiotics and creating some different fermented mixes and a normal part of my kitchen-stocking routine includes buying beautiful fresh apple juice from the local farmers’ market of a weekend. However after a few busy weeks with the family and the Easter break I’d missed my opportunity to head to the markets so I decided to go into a corner store and see if they had any juice.  Not surprisingly, most of the juices had preservatives, acidity regulators and ascorbic acid added.  If a preservative is in the juice it may kill my beautiful live probiotics, so I bypassed them all and found a juice that was a mix of freshly pressed juice and puree’s.  Perfect! I thought. 

I left the store with an “Impressed Pressed Juice” ready to ferment trying a new batch of probiotics.

When I do my kitchen trials, I usually use coconut water, juices, coconut cream and milk.

I came home prepared all my jars then added The Changing Habits probiotics to each litre glass jar.

It was a warm week, so it didn’t take long for my drinks to ferment.  The only one that didn’t work was the impressed pressed juice. I reread the label to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake with any of the ingredients, but all I could see was juices and puree’s, nothing else.  So I decided I would call the producers and find out if anything else was in their product.  Customer service didn’t know so they said they would call me back and 24 hours later they did. The juice still wasn’t fermenting and we were now on 5 warm days with probiotics added. Usually by now it would be visibly different and have a fizz when you open up the jar. The customer service team member told me that there was definitely no preservatives or anything else added into their product. 

I told her that the juice had been sitting out of the fridge for 5 days (I found this juice in the fridge section), on the label it says to keep it at 1.4C and to make sure it was consumed in 5 days after opening.  I kept saying to customer service that there had to be something in it for it not to go off with or without the probiotics.

And then it dawned on me.  Perhaps this company was buying fruit that had been sprayed with the new preservative sanctioned by our food authority called Apeel.

This juice maker, unless they knew that Apeel was approved by FSANZ ,would never know that they were buying something different than they did 18 months ago when the new coating for all fruits and vegetables was approved.  There are currently no labelling laws around Apeel in Australia, therefore we or our juice makers unknowingly purchase fruit or juice that has been sprayed with this preparation. 

The juice maker has this on their label:

“Crafting the highest quality juice starts with sourcing the best quality fruit from local Aussie growers.  Our juice master’s carefully mill squeeze and press the fruit, extracting every drop of nature’s goodness at XXXXXXX, it’s our mission to bring you pure, local, pressed juice everyday”

You can hardly blame the juice producer for not knowing as it has not been heavily publicised and most people, food producers, chefs and juice makers are none the wiser.

What is Apeel?

Apeel is approved in Australia for use on all fruits and vegetables and there are absolutely no labelling laws.

Publicity shows it as preserving food and reducing food waste, hunger of communities and saving humanity, but I see it as another chemical being sprayed on food for financial gains.

The marketing for this product describes Apeel as simply another layer of what already exists naturally on fruits and vegetables but when we look deeper, the marketing isn’t exactly telling the whole truth. Surprise surprise.

Instead of empowering people to plant fruit trees in their yards and nature strips, this is yet another attempt to stop the natural ripening, progression, and spoilage of food. There are no long-term safety studies on what Apeel may do to the health of the gut microbiome, the gut integrity, soil ecology and overall health of humanity.

Apeel is the company and the name of the product that is making a coating for fruits and vegetables that is meant to extend the shelf life of the food.  The company was funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and founded by World Economic Forum Young Leader James Rogers.

Australia’s FSANZ have approved the coating as has the US FDA for all fruits and vegetables.  In the USA, it will have to be labelled but as I mentioned here are no labelling laws happening in Australia.  Even if the food that has been treated is labelled, I’m concerned about restaurants, cafes and food processors using these coated fruits and vegetables but not having to declare anything on their label. Thus my fruit juice dilemma.

The EU have allowed this product on citrus, avocado, pineapple, papaya, banana, mango, melon and pomegranate. In other words, for foods where you will remove the skin and therefore do not eat the coating.  Whereas in other countries like Australia, and the USA it is allowed on all fruits and vegetables.

This coating cannot be washed off.

 Apeel is applied in two stages;

Stage 1- Applied before harvest it’s called ‘invisipeel’, it has pesticidal, fungicidal and preservative qualities.

Stage 2 – Applied after harvest it’s called ‘Edipeel’, it is a physical barrier.

Together, invisipeel and edipeel  are called Apeel, it can only be applied by an Apeel scientist, or someone trained by the scientist.  As I’ve already said, it cannot be washed off.

They have stated that they only use food ingredients but as you will see below, most of these ingredients cannot be found in a pantry! Well maybe salt, however I would never use a refined salt and definitely not vegetable oil that has been turned into glycerides using solvents, heavy metals and trans fats.

Here are the Ingredients:

Glycerolipids (vegetable oils) mono and di glycerides, esters amides, thiols, carboxylic acids, ethers, aliphalic waxes, alcohols, salts (inorganic and organic) alkenyl groups including propenyl, n-butenyl, in cis and trans bonds (in other words trans fats)

The Organic Apeel contains 0.6% citric acid and 99.4% other ingredients but I can’t find clarification of the other 99.4% of ingredients.

Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients.

All of the ingredients are GRAS (generally regarded as safe), each has been tested individually but not tested in conjunction with each other. Heptane or ethyl acetate may be used interchangeably as the solvent.

Questions to ask

  • Who is making the chemicals/ingredients of  Apeel?
  • What are the plant materials they are sourcing and are they GM or sprayed with glyphosate and other chemicals?
  • Are they coming from all over the world to a factory to put together?
  •  What are the processes and what chemicals are they using to extract the fats?
  • Why are trans fats in the final product?
  • What is the patent and what testing has been done for contaminants?
  • What is the environmental impact and how does it affect the microbiome?
  •  How does it affect soil ecology?
  •  How does it affect overall health and what are the long-term ramifications of consuming this product?

My conclusion

What can we learn from this? Question where you buy your fresh produce from. Your local IGA and farmers will know their sources and origin of any products so should be able to tell you if anything they’re selling is coated in Apeel. The good news is, there are some big international names, i.e. Costco USA, which have promised they won’t buy produce coated in Apeel, and one can only hope that their Australian counterparts wisen up and follow suit.

My suggestion? Purchase your fruit and vegetables from your local farmers market.  Ask questions of your local IGA store to make sure they are not buying products laced in Apeel.  Have a read of the references below to educate yourself as much as possible and stay tuned for more updates from my team and I as we receive them.

P.s. if you’re looking for a fermenting recipe, here’s one of my favourites. Fermented whole fruit drink.



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1 Comment

  1. Sonja Hardy

    Thank you for bringing this to light. It’s getting increasingly difficult to avoid ‘unnatural’ foods. Even foods labelled ‘organic’ aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.

    I suspect FSANZ is a ‘captured’ agency, like the TGA and other such regulators. I remember, for example, when Australia was holding back the tide of GMOs, but now the floodgates have well and truly opened. When this first started, I used to write submissions to FSANZ expressing my concern about the risks of GMOs, including references to scientific studies that warned of the dangers – but of course it made no difference, and it seems that almost every application for a new GM additive to use in food production is approved.

    I have long since given up writing submissions as a waste of time and energy, but am still subscribed to FSANZ notifications, just so I can keep an eye on what else in being foisted on us. It’s quite horrifying.


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