A Coating on Romaine Lettuce?

February 10th, 2012 | Simcha Weinstein | 2 Comments »

There is a video circulating on the internet showing romaine lettuce with what appears to be a “plastic coating” peeling off the lettuce. We have received quite a few inquiries about this and wanted to address the concern. This “coating” is actually the “Epidermal or Skin Layer” of the lettuce and “not plastic”, which is why consumers of both organic and conventionally grown product have noticed the affect. It has nothing to do with anything that has been applied externally to the product.

So why does this coating occur? During the winter season, romaine lettuce is grown in Yuma Arizona. During the months of December through February the Yuma growing region can easily see sub-freezing nights with temperatures reaching into the low twenties. This will cause the outer skin of romaine lettuce to experience a type of “freeze burn” which results in a “blistering” of the skin, much like what would happen if human skin experienced a burn.

What some shoppers are seeing when they peel back what appears to be plastic, is the natural healing process of the lettuce. The blistering causes the skin to separate from the lettuce and can then be easily peeled off of the romaine head. This effect is called “Epidermal Peel” and is a very natural occurrence after a freeze. It does nothing to affect the safety of the product – it’s strictly a cosmetic alteration.

Even if there was some type of plastic coating being used on romaine lettuce, it could not be used on certified organic product. Coatings that would be approved for spraying directly onto organic products must contain only ingredients included on the National List, NOP sections 205.605 and 205.606 and plastic is not included on this list.

We even contacted our romaine growers in the Yuma growing region for their feedback and assurance, and while none of them were aware of the video, they assured us that they never have nor ever will use plastic or any other substance not approved by the USDA and National Organic Standards. It’s the law, and if you want your product to be certified as organic then you must comply with the standards.

Thanks for your concern and for your understanding.