SmartFresh (SmartFresh Quality System) is a brand of a synthetic produce quality enhancer containing 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP). It is marketed by AgroFresh (owned by AgroFresh Solutions, a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by Avenue Capital Group).
1-MCP blocks the effects of both endogenous and exogenous ethylene through preferential attachment to the ethylene receptor. It is applied in storage facilities and transit containers to slow down the ripening process and the production of ethylene in fruit. Ethylene[clarification needed] agent is not useful postharvest for fruit that is already ripe. The method of prolonging produce lifetime in this way was approved by the EU in 2005, and can be combined with standard controlled atmosphere technology.
The use of 1-MCP to prevent fruit ripening came under scrutiny by the press during late 2005, when it was shown that the method is occasionally used to inhibit ripening of fruit by as much as a year, causing consumers to purchase year-old fruit without being aware of it. Fruits which have been treated with 1-MCP do not trigger any labelling regulations, and are allowed for use with certified organic foods, and are therefore non-distinguishable from non-treated products. In the United States the National Organic Program does not allow the use of 1-MCP on organic produce, however the only test devised by the United States Environmental Protection Agency; radioisolated analytical method is too expensive, though it can measure residues on fruit up to 90 days post treatment. Its convenience of application makes it easily accessible for farmers and producers.
By 2006, retailers were split on whether this quality enhancer should be used. In a True Food Network publication of Greenpeace, Apple & Pear Australia business manager Tony Russell claimed that prolonged lifetime of produce is necessary to deliver edible fruit during the whole year, and that these fruits are still healthy. He was countered by Sydney Postharvest Laboratory director Dr Stephen Morris in that Vitamin C and antioxidant levels may still decline, a concern also shared by others[who?] in the industry.
SmartFresh is perceived by Susan Kegley, a senior scientist at the San Francisco-based Pesticide Action Network North America, as being “likely to be very low-risk to consumers”. Other scientists see 1-MCP as "most likely harmless to humans".
As of 2009, this product is allowed in more than 26 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, the United States, and from the European Union, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain, Poland and United Kingdom.
- New York Times Lasting crunch but less scent
Blankenship, S.M., and J.M. Dole. 2003. 1-Methylcyclopropene: A review. Postharvest Biol. Tech. 28:1-25.