Those Viral Pink Pineapples Aren’t What You Think

Those Viral Pink Pineapples Aren’t What You Think

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Susmita Baral
May 26, 2017
(Image credit: bergamont/Shutterstock)

Del Monte Fresh Produce has been playing around with a strain of pineapples since 2005 that changed the fruit's color and flavor. Their patented work has manifested in sweeter pineapples that are also pink in color. The genetically engineered pineapple received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last December and is now making its presence known on social media.

Grown in Costa Rica, the pineapples have been named Rosé Pineapples by the company. The name is likely an attempt to jump on the rosé bandwagon, as the beverage has become more popular over the past few summers.

How are the pineapples turned pink? Simply put, their genes have been tinkered with. More specifically, they've modified the levels of specific enzymes in the pineapple. Essentially, pineapples contain pink pigment (lycopene) and yellow pigment (beta carotene). The natural process turns the pink into yellow, but changing enzymes keep the pinkness in 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 FDA says. "(Del Monte's) new pineapple has been genetically engineered to produce lower levels of the enzymes already in conventional pineapple 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."

If you've seen hot-pink pineapples circulating social media, be wary. The pineapples that have been modified will reportedly look normal on the outside and be pink on the inside. Much of the photos circulating the internet are modified, just like the pineapples.

As for their taste, according to Del Monte the pineapples have an "extra-sweet pink flesh."

Is there a need for pink pineapples? Not really. If the pink color is a byproduct of an attempt to sweeten pineapples, that's one thing. But if the pineapples were enhanced intentionally to be pink for marketing or branding, then that's problematic. Slate spotlights the troubling undercurrent of pink-themed anything and everything with regards to gender:

Frankly, I'm wondering why it took so long. With the rise of breast cancer awareness over the past few decades, we've seen pink water bottles, pink bathrobes, even pink fighter jets. Pink fruit was a huge market opportunity just begging to be exploited. Finally, fruit giant Del Monte has heeded the call, tweaking pineapple genes to enhance the fruit's levels of lycopene, the pigment that makes tomatoes and watermelon red. Although the womanly new pineapple is pink on the inside, it reportedly looks the same as yellow pineapples on the outside, and it's nicknamed "Rosé." Ooh la la!
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