Are you someone who carefully scrubs and rinses your apples as soon as you get them home from the store, or are you more the “toss them in the fridge, then grab one out of the bag every so often when you feel guilty about not eating enough fruit” type? If you identify more with the latter description, don’t worry, there’s a lot of us around. Oh, and you know what else you probably shouldn’t worry about? Taking a big, old bite of that apple and then remembering — whoopsie, didn’t it used to have some kind of sticker on the side?
If you have already chewed and swallowed up that scrap of gummed paper or plastic or whatever it was, Spoon University reassures that it’s not likely to kill you or even make you sick.
So what will happen to the sticker once it’s inside your body? Chances are, it will simply pass right on through your digestive tract and exit the usual way. As emergency room physician Irene Tien, MD puts it, “Eating an object like paper, which is not sharp, toxic or caustic, is very unlikely to cause a medical problem” (via Scary Symptoms).
You shouldn't go out of your way to eat produce stickers
While produce stickers are not exactly what you would call edible in the sense that you are not really encouraged to eat them, it’s not like the FDA is going to countenance food items being labeled with deadly poisons. Instead, they have a set of regulations intended to ensure that the accidental ingestion of such a sticker will be fairly harmless. As the FDA classifies produce labels, they are known as food contact substances, a term that is applied to food packaging.
Some people, however, have misconstrued the fact that produce labels are subject to such regulations as meaning that they are actually made from paper that has been specially manufactured to be edible. With most produce labels, this is not the case. Snopes investigated these rumors of produce stickers’ alleged edibility and found them to be “mostly untrue.”
That being said, they also did not uncover any evidence that consuming such labels is particularly dangerous, either. They did note that some anecdotal evidence suggests people may have choked on produce stickers, although it seems none of the reported choking incidents were fatal or even all that serious. To sum up: You should be perfectly fine if you swallow a few stickers by accident, but you will probably enjoy your apple more if you remember to peel them off first.
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