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Eating fruits and vegetables (such as apples) that have a wax coating causes cancer

What you may have heard

Consuming the wax on fruits and vegetables can increase your risk of developing cancer.

What science tells us

Fruit wax, which is highly diluted, contains fungicides to inhibit mold growth, sugar cane, beeswax, carnauba wax, and resins.

Epidemiological Evidence

Chemicals such as pesticides associated with fruit production may contain carcinogens, but there is no evidence from human studies that exposure to fruit or vegetable wax contains chemicals that cause cancer when consumed by humans.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for ensuring that all pesticides or fungicides meet the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA). The EPA states that fruits and vegetables treated with pesticides are safe and that they can be consumed “with a reasonable certainty of no harm to infants and children, as well as adults” (EPA). The EPA constantly monitors new and existing pesticides to ensure they may be consumed.

Fruit wax is monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA states that manufacturers and retail businesses must follow specific guidelines in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). This includes the use of safe and edible ingredients in the coating of any products and minimizes the risk of harmful coatings found on fruits and vegetables (FDA).

Laboratory Evidence/ Supportive Evidence

There is limited laboratory evidence on the effects of fruits and vegetable wax on animals. 

IARC Carcinogen Classification: Not classified

How to reduce your risk

The FDA does not approve any carcinogenic coatings used on food products. If there is a coating, it has been reviewed and ruled safe to consume by the FDA.

If you would still prefer to avoid eating the waxy coating, there are fruits that do not contain a coating. Often, products label whether they have a coating in their ingredients. If this is not listed on the product, it is often listed on the website of the product.

These coatings may also be easily removed under running water or, if the coating is water repellent, by peeling. Rinsing and peeling your fruits and vegetables is a great way to ensure that you do not eat the waxy coating.

Bottom line

Coatings on fruits and vegetables are not dangerous under FDA and EPA guidelines, but rinsing off or peeling produce helps to remove the wax.

Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) 
CPG Sec 562.550 Safety and Labeling of Waxed (Coated) Fruits and Vegetables
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Pesticides and food 
World Health Organization (WHO): Food additives


June 24, 2021
Verified/updated: August 22, 2022