In April 2023, viral posts claimed that people should avoid eating fruits or vegetables with an "Apeel" sticker on them.
The posts spread across platforms like Facebook, where the claims often appeared as copied-and-pasted text posts known as copypasta. We also found copypasta posts on Instagram, TikTok, Reddit, and Twitter.
The copypasta that spread across platforms often read like this:
Cucumbers are not wrapped in plastic but there's a big sign saying it is coated in Apeel to protect freshness and reduce plastic waste. The cucumbers also have a sticker on them with the word Apeel. When you check the company out, it's funded by Bill Gates and others and the WEF [World Economic Forum] endorses it.
Online posts also claimed the coating contained trans fats, which could lead to an increased risk of heart disease. One TikTok post even used a fact-check from The Associated Press (AP) as a source for its claims.
Apeel Sciences is the company that makes a product used to coat grocery store fruit and vegetables known as Edipeel. The website for Apeel stated that produce that has Edipeel applied to it "stays at peak freshness for longer. More time can help you waste less of what you buy."
Edipeel is described on Apeel's website as a thin, edible coating that is designed to be consumed. According to a 2017 article by The Atlantic, people have been coating their produce with different artificial protective coatings for over 900 years.
According to a blog post the company published on Aug. 29, 2022, Edipeel consists of purified monoglycerides and diglycerides. Monoglycerides consist of a glycerol molecule and one fatty acid chain, while diglycerides have two fatty acid chains. According to a 2018 Healthline article, the two contain small amounts of trans fats, but a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban does not apply to them.
The agency banned banned artificial trans fats in 2018, after researchers discovered such fats raised cholesterol and contributed to heart disease. A Washington Post article reported natural trans fats found in some animal proteins have not been banned. There is no evidence they raise cholesterol or contribute to heart disease.
"The dietary lipids which compose the ingredients in Apeel are not a source of trans fatty acids. Further, Apeel products have been analytically tested to confirm the absence of trans fats," said a blog post the company published on April 17, 2023, about Edipeel's safety.
We've previously fact-checked claims that have connected Bill Gates and the World Economic Forum (WEF) to various conspiracy theories surrounding safe food and water. According to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website, Apeel was funded by the foundation in 2012 and 2015. The website did not state the company had been funded by the foundation since then.
At the time of this writing, Crunchbase listed the foundation as a lead investor in Apeel, along with Temasek Holdings, Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC, and Viking Global Investors. Apeel was named as a WEF Technology Pioneer in 2018.
The TikTok post that used the AP as a source claimed Apeel Sciences said it had a safety sheet for the products, but that an AP fact-check found it wasn't true.
The fact-check from the news organization did not say that. It instead found a safety document showing a cleaning product named Apeel could cause eye damage and allergic skin reactions. The product had no relation to Apeel Science or Edipeel.