We’ve seen posts circulating on social media recently claiming that Bragg, a popular apple cider vinegar company, was bought over by Bill Gates who has changed the product’s ingredients.Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice and is a popular wellness and health product – particularly as a natural or alternative remedy for a range of different ailments. Bragg, which has been operating since 1912, is one of several companies dominating the global apple cider vinegar market, with their use of organic apples being a key selling point. Has Bill Gates bought Bragg? Is there any evidence that the ingredients and product has been altered?
Who bought Bragg?
Despite multiple claims specifically naming Gates as the new owner of Bragg, our research shows absolutely no evidence that Bill Gates has bought Bragg.
The earliest mention of this claim we could find is an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience, where a guest, Whitney Cummings (who is a comedian and actress) directly stated that “Bill Gates bought Bragg” without any evidence or source.
According to public records and reports from the time, the last change in Bragg ownership took place in 2019, when an investment group which includes American singer Katy Perry acquired the company from Patricia Bragg, the previous CEO. There is no evidence or mention of Bill Gates in this acquisition at all.
However, some other claims have instead drawn links between Katy Perry and Gates – claiming they are business partners, or that Katy Perry is “picking up” his “crops” to use in Bragg apple cider vinegar.
According to the claims, Gate’s changes to Bragg involve switching the apples used in manufacturing to “Apeel apples” which are toxic and dangerous. The change is further claimed to be part of a wider plan to damage the health of Bragg consumers and public health in general.
As previously covered by Black Dot Research and numerous other fact-checking platforms, Apeel Sciences is a company that has created an edible, plant-based fruit coating called Edipeel, which slows oxidation and prevents moisture loss, keeping produce fresh for longer periods of time. Apeel has also worked with organic apple producers in the United States.
Edipeel has been verified as food-safe by different food regulatory bodies around the world and is currently in use on some fruits and produce worldwide. Despite this, there has been consistent resistance from certain groups on social media who continue to claim and assert that Edipeel is dangerous and poisonous.The long-running association between Gates and Apeel stems from grants awarded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded to company in 2012 and 2015 to aid their development of Edipeel. While some have erroneously claimed that the grant means Gates own Apeel and has control over the technology and its distribution, this is untrue, and despite having funded Apeel, the Foundation is not currently an active investor. Claims which directly link Gates and the use of Edipeel on produce are inaccurate.
Further, the links being drawn between Gates and Katy Perry seem to come from the fact that Perry has also invested in Apeel – leading some to assume a business connection between them which would allow Gates to introduce Apeel apples to Bragg. However, we could find no evidence being offered to support these links beyond supposition by posters on forums.
Finally, we looked into whether Bragg has reported a change in ingredients and found a statement released on the company blog, which emphatically denies any change in the apple cider vinegar recipe and ingredients. This was also repeated by a representative earlier this year to Eater.com.In summary, Bill Gates has not bought Bragg and is not involved in the production or distribution of Edipeel-coated apples. However, even if Edipeel-coated apples were used to make apple cider vinegar, there is no evidence to suggest they would make the product toxic or dangerous. Further, Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar has stated that its ingredients and manufacturing process remains unchanged – both recently and after its 2019 change of ownership. We therefore give this claim a rating of false.
The piecemeal nature of some claims – reoccurring misinformation (in this case about Apeel and Gates) stacked atop each other to produce a new claim is particularly dangerous. Readers who have not come across fact-checks for the previous claims or who already believe they are true are predisposed to also believe the new claim.
While we could find no evidence of this being the case in this instance, claims targeting specific companies or organisations should also be scrutinised for motives such as corporate warfare – where information or disinformation might be used to destabilise competition and damage reputations. Being aware of the stakeholders or parties involved and the wider environment (such as the corporate landscape) is therefore another important facet of fact-checking and assessing claims like this one.