Research by Spencer Walsh *Funded by the California Blueberry Commission
In 2010, the California Apple Commission applied for a research grant through the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The grant was designed to study the concerns the industry has had with California's starch-iodine testing procedures. The grant was approved and the Commission was awarded $80,000 over the next two years. The entire study is funded through the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Specialty Crop Grant program.
The initial phase of the grant began in October 2010 and was to begin taste testing of the Granny Smith variety to determine hat the consumer preferred. Based on the first taste test results, consumer preferences changed and the California apple industry was losing market share due to their changes in taste.
Based o the study, the Commission petitioned the California Department of Food and Agriculture to remove the Granny Smith Starch Iodine Standard. On July 29, 2011, the California Department of Food and Agriculture agreed to the Commission's request and officially repealed the mandatory standard. As a result, the industry was able to harvest Granny Smith apples based on the market and not a subjective test.
The second phase of this project will be to begin designing an objective method to test and compare Granny Smith starch iodine results. In basic terms, this testing method would include crushing the apples into a slurry type mixture and measuring any light that is refracted through the apple blend. The testing phase of tis study is just about complete. Upon completion of the project, the Commission anticipates having an objective test that will measure starch iodine in California Granny Smith apples.
Lastly, the Commission will be conducting a review of the standard's removal and present the findings to the Board of Directors to determine if a Granny Smith standard is necessary even with the new testing method.