The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided this week that a genetically modified pink pineapple--developed by food giant Fresh Del Monte Produce--is now safe to sell in the U.S.
Genetic engineering produces lower levels of enzymes that transform into lycopene--the same enzyme that produces rich color in watermelons and tomatoes--into yellow beta carotene--the same enzyme that produces rich color in carrots. In pineapples, this method ultimately creates an inner flesh that is sweeter and pinker than that of a conventionally grown yellow pineapple.
The pink pineapple is grown in Costa Rica, but was first developed in 2012 and earned importation approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture the following year. This was an unusually quick advancement since, according to the agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the pink pineapple does not have the ability to “propagate and persist in the environment once they have been harvested.”
According to reports, FDA says that Fresh Del Monte Produce “submitted information to the agency to demonstrate that the pink flesh pineapple is as safe and nutritious as its conventional counterparts,”
The pink pineapple joins a number of other precedent-setting genetically modified foods such as salmon--which was approved for sale in Canada in May 2016, along with apples and potatoes, which were deemed safe for human consumption in 2015.
With the passing of standardized food labeling regulations over the summer, the pink pineapple will need to be labeled as a genetically modified food item at the retail level. USDA is tasked with deciding how these labels will come to fruition over the next few years.
Correction: There are two different Del Monte's. Fresh Del Monte Produce is the company that has made the above announcement. Del Monte Foods is a separate entity.