Santana: the apple that can be eaten by many people with a mild apple allergy

Many people with a mild apple allergy are happy with the Santana. They can finally eat an apple without negative effects. Thanks to the smart strategy of Applied Plant Research (PPO) that brought the right people and the right knowledge together.

It is impossible to imagine the shelves of supermarkets and other fruit selling points without the Santana apple. And yet it has taken over 30 years before this apple reached the market. The cultivar already originates from the 1970’s from a crossing with Elstar. But the first apples only reached the market in 2006, partly through the efforts of researchers of PPO.

A hard figure

It had been known for quite some time that Santana has low allergenic properties. This means that many people with a mild apple allergy can simply eat this apple. This was the starting point for the scientists. They asked the University Medical Centre in Groningen to investigate how many people with allergy could eat the Santana apple. The percentage was found to be 75 %.

Albert Heijn joining in

This figure lead to so much publicity about the advantages of the apple that the Dutch Albert Heijn supermarket chain approached the scientists. The supermarket wanted to start selling the apples. The scientists then developed a sales protocol, together with the supermarket, doctors, growers, and the Food Allergy Foundation. This protocol makes perfectly clear what supermarkets must do when they want to sell the apples and how consumers can find out whether they can eat the apple.

Improved cultivation

Together with growers the scientists developed methods to improve the cultivation and storage of the apples. And they also sorted out which requirements would need to be met to comply with European regulations. No regulations were found to exist for natural products with a claim that the product is good for certain consumers, such as Santana.

The scientists discovered an additional advantage of Santana: the variety has a low susceptibility to scab and other diseases; this means that less pesticides are required. This is especially valuable for organic growers. This results in the largest part of the Santana being grown organically.