Protective edible coatings and waxes are applied to fruits and vegetables as part of the post harvest treatment of fresh fruits and vegetables as a method of preservation. In Canada there are a number of protective coatings such as mineral oil, petrolatum and paraffin that are regulated as food additives under the Food & Drug Act and Regulations. These Regulations set the limits for the quantity of protective coatings that can be used. In the U.S there may be some wax and coating products that are generally recognized as safe for use on food, however these products must comply with Canadian regulations and be acceptable for use in Canada if they are applied to fruits and vegetables that are imported for consumption by Canadian consumers.
There are other protective coatings that are not currently regulated as food additives, but have traditional food ingredients uses, e.g. vegetable oil. Other substances such as shellac, beeswax, candelilla wax and carnauba wax are considered aids to processing in some instances, but other uses of these substances e.g. confectionery glazes, are regulated as food additives.
Please download Fresh Facts for Industry: Protective Coatings, part of our Fresh Facts series, for more information about protective coatings on fresh fruits and vegetables.