Anita Truong is a Master of Biomedical Technology graduate at the University of Calgary. She is currently an intern with Genome Alberta for the summer and one of her assignments is to profile some of the participants involved in our #TasteTECH event .
Ever since Eve took at bite of the forbidden fruit, apple slices left out for even short period of time, start to turn brown. Have you ever seen one of those browning chunks of fruit and thought “mmm delicious!”? Probably not.
Around 40% of apples are lost in the supply chain due to bruising and browning, which contributes to a large amount of preventable food waste. Okanagan Specialty Fruits has tackled this issue by developing a non-browning Arctic apple that remains fresh and appealing even after it is sliced. You can now slice up an apple and add it to the lunch you have prepared to take to work!
A vendor at this year’s TasteTECH event, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, uses a technique called RNAse I to silence the polyphenol oxidase (PPO) gene. This gene is responsible for the enzymatic browning of tree fruits and once silenced, browning is prevented from occurring.
By using gene silencing, Okanagan Specialty Fruits avoids the use of anti-browning treatments such as sulfites, which are the main cause of allergic reactions. Okanagan Specialty Fruits also eliminates the use of calcium ascorbate, which decreases processing costs by 40%. Arctic apples grow at the same rate as conventional apples and do not require extra pesticides or chemicals for cultivation which means growers can raise the trees alongside other apple trees without change the way they manage their orchards, Not only are chefs interested in the Arctic apples because they are more convenient for food prep, children are also a main target consumer. Jessica Brady from OSF says their Arctic apples appeal to children, as they are more inclined to eat sliced apples that are not brown in colour.