The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced it has completed an evaluation of a pineapple variety genetically engineered by Del Monte Fresh Produce to have pink flesh, concluding that there are no unresolved safety or regulatory questions about the fruit.
Del Monte submitted information to the agency to demonstrate that the pink flesh pineapple is as safe and nutritious as its conventional counterparts.
The pineapple has been genetically engineered to produce lower levels of the enzymes already in conventional pineapples that convert the pink pigment lycopene to the yellow pigment beta carotene. Lycopene is the pigment that makes tomatoes red and watermelons pink, so it is commonly and safely consumed.
In addition, after consulting with the FDA, Del Monte plans to identify the food as 'extra sweet pink flesh pineapple' on tags attached to the crown of the fruit, distinguishing the pink flesh pineapple from Del Monte's 'golden extra sweet pineapple' which was introduced in the 1990s.
The FDA noted that other companies interested in marketing the pink flesh pineapple are advised to consult with CFSAN’s Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling, to discuss any required or voluntary labelling, including statements relating to attributes of these pineapples or any type of claim.
Del Monte participated in a voluntary consultation with FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety about the pineapple. During that consultation, the company submitted information to FDA scientists regarding characteristics of the new plant variety, the nature and effect of the genetic change, potential unexpected or unintended effects that could accompany the genetic change, and the nutritional assessment.
After review of that data FDA scientists concluded that there were no unresolved safety or regulatory issues under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for the genetically engineered pink flesh pineapple.
A consultation is not synonymous with FDA approval - rather, it is voluntary and helps developers of food ensure that foods derived from new plant varieties are safe and comply with the FD&C Act and FDA’s regulations.
Although Del Monte will market this pineapple in the United States, the group is not planning on growing it there. The company is working with the government of Costa Rica on the matter of production.