1-MCP – a new approach to detect the treatment of fruits using this storage protector

Last updated: 8. August 2019

1-MCP (1-Methylcyclopropen) is used to control the ripening of fruit

1-MCP stands for 1-Methycyclopropene. Known brand names include Smart Fresh, EthylBloc and FreshStart. It has been developed by the company AgroFresh.

This small, modest molecule allows fruit to be stored for months in cool rooms. It is used to slow down the ripening  of apples, bananas, pears, kiwis and other kinds of fruit. This substance binds the ethylene receptor

responsible for ripening and interrupts the chemical ripening of the fruit. So it stays fresh longer and can endure being shipped around the world. (For further information about this substance, see…) 1-MCP has been used for decades in closed warehouses and containers. It has not, however, been paid much attention when checking for residues in fruit.

The Analysis

1-MCP can be analysed using gas chromatography with headspace analysis or headspace-SPME (solid phase micro extraction) and can be selectively and sensitively detected with mass spectrometry. Residues proving the treatment of fruit with 1-MCP  have only been detected in very rare cases. 1-MCP is a little volatile. If the container is opened or no longer cooled, the gas escapes. It also does not significantly accumulate with the use of wax, for example with apples. The legal limit of 0.01 mg/kg for apples and other kinds of fruit is only exceeded in less than 0.05% of the analyzed samples.

Clear proof of treatment with 1-MCP is of interest for several different groups. Shipping companies want to control the ripening process so that the fruit is ripe upon delivery. Green bananas and hard kiwis on sale in the shops indicate that this control has not taken place or did not work properly. Fruit sellers want to know exactly how the goods were produced and treated and this cannot be seen.

Consumers also want to know how the fruit was chemically treated, especially because the consumer cannot estimate how old the fruit is when, after months of storage it looks like it has just been picked. The buyers of organic fruit want to be sure that this treatment does not contradict the criteria for ecological food production.

With a new test procedure offered by our network partner  NSure BV , my-lab International can offer a test procedure which answers these questions satisfactorily. Unlike previous methods, the new one checks genetic activity. In principle, the activity of selected genes is determined. These genes are the blueprint for the enzyme which is responsible for genetic activity. The difference between it and that of untreated fruit is clear. Fruit treated with1-MCP shows little or no genetic activity. The prediction and/or control of the ripening process is not only interesting for fruit treated with 1-MCP. It is also of help to local farmers who want to predict the optimal time for the harvest.

Detection of 1-MCP treatment

Apple: Detection of 1-MCP treatment


For business customers

Detection of 1-MCP treatment

Detection of 1-MCP treatment in apple or pear (testkit)


For business customers

Detection of 1-MCP treatment

Detection of 1-MCP treatment in apple or pear


For laboratories

Detection of 1-MCP treatment

Detection of 1-MCP treatment in pear or apple (testkit)


For laboratories

references for pictures

  • 1-MCP formula | source: Wikipedia
  • title picture: my-lab International