Morpholine fight highlights regulatory challenges for Chilean fruit exporters
The discovery of morpholine in Chilean apples exported to England and later the confiscation 40 tons of the fruit in Greece ignited alarm in the European Union and worry in the fruit industry in the South American country.
In an interview with FreshFruitPortal.com, José Miguel Valdés, general manager of Chilean laboratory Andes Control, said that the problem can be explained by the difference in the laws among the main destination markets.
The substance, which is used in the wax used to give apples their shine, is allowed in countries such as the United States, Canada and Japan, but not in the European Union.
Valdés said that “in general terms, the legislation in the European Union for residues on food is stricter than that in the Americas, and that difference . . . implies that in many cases, agricultural producers consider the strictest rules in order to minimize possible risks.”
Therefore, he said, because of the different requirements that destination markets impose for fruit, and food in general, “Chilean exporters are very strict and careful to meet the regulations in force.”
Valdés emphasized that a frequent error is thinking that morpholine is a pesticide and that Chile should not use it because its consumption is prohibited.
Asked whether Europe might accept morpholine use on imported fruit in the future, Valdés said no, because “our experience tells us that normally the regulation for chemical substances and pesticide residues are more and more demanding in different markets.
“Exporters should cope with this trend and be more rigorous with respect to the products that they apply and the measuring systems in which they trust their products.”
Valdés said that morpholine is a versatile chemical used for diverse production processes.
It is used, for example, in synthesis processes for medicines, as a corrosion inhibitor in boilers or as a protection agent in crops. In fruit production in particular, it is used as an additive in the manufacture of several types of wax that are used to shine the fruit.
Andes Control is the only Chilean company that analyzes morpholine, and offers other safety services for the country’s agriculture industry.