Stickers on fruits & veggies : Safe or Unsafe?

Column Lifestyle : Shaman Hegde


Use of stickers on food products is a common practice across the globe. Most of the time stickers are applied directly on the surfaces of fruits and vegetables. Apple, kiwi, mangoes, oranges, bananas, capsicum are some common fruits and vegetables which have stickers applied directly on the surfaces. Stickers are considered to be an important tool for consumers to get information about the products in order to make the purchase decision.


The main purpose of using stickers is to facilitate traceability, easy accessibility of the information like if the food is grown organically or genetically modified, or conventionally grown etc.


However, in India it is observed that traders use stickers to make their product look premium and sometimes to hide any decay or defect, or brand name or tested ok or best quality etc are mentioned on stickers which do not have any significance.  


The skin of the fruits and vegetables is porous and absorb substances that comes in contact with them. Large number of chemicals are used in manufacturing of adhesives whose safety is not known. These Chemicals may migrate into food or may be consumed along with the fruits and vegetables. We generally remove the stickers from the fruits and vegetables and consume them without thinking about the residues of adhesive present on them.


Studies show that substances such as surfactants used in adhesives are toxic for the reproductive system. Harmful chemicals present in adhesives may have direct contact to the food or migrate into the food. Heat from sunlight at the open vegetable/fruit markets may increase the migration of harmful chemicals from adhesives.


Take away message:  

  1. Always check the quality before buying.
  2. Fruit and vegetables with stickers are not necessarily of premium quality.
  3. Stickers should be removed before consumption of fruits and vegetables and also peel or cut the skin of fruit and Vegetables where sticker was applied to prevent consuming  the residues of adhesives.
  4. Educate the traders not to use the stickers directly on food products. Also, stickers without any relevant information should not be used.


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