In one set of modified-atmosphere (MA) packages of cut broccoli (Brassica oleracea L., Italica Group), O2 partial pressures ranged from 1.2 to 3.6 kPa at 0C [88 packages, 0.00268-cm-thick low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film, 600-cm2 film area, 40±0.5 g cut broccoli], and in another set (94 packages, same film and area as before, 25±0.5 g cut broccoli) they ranged from 5.0 to 9.2 kPa. For characterizing O2 uptake as a function of O2 partial pressure and determining anaerobic fermentation induction point at 0C, a range of steady-state package O2 partial pressures was generated by placing different amounts of cut broccoli (10 to 160 g) in LDPE packages. Oxygen uptake was modeled using a Michaelis-Menten-type equation. The maximum rate of product O2 uptake when O2 partial pressure was nonlimiting and the package O2 partial pressure corresponding to half-maximum O2 uptake were estimated as 147±3 nmol·kg-1·s-1 and 0.26±0.025 kPa, respectively. Respiratory quotient and head space ethanol increased sharply below package O2 partial pressures of 0.15 kPa, indicating stimulation of fermentation within the packages. The frequency distributions of CO2 production rates were measured for 80 samples of 100 g each of cut broccoli at two O2 partial pressures (21.0 kPa and 1.3 kPa) using a flow-through method. The average coefficient of variation of the CO2 production rate was ≈5%. Frequency distributions of O2 partial pressures were modeled as a function of product-to-product variation in O2 uptake and package-to-package variation in film permeability using the estimated O2 uptake characteristics and coefficient of variation. The model was used to predict the target O2 partial pressures for the design of cut broccoli MA packages. It was predicted that the packages for cut broccoli at 0C should be designed for a target O2 partial pressure of 2.54 kPa to have actual package O2 partial pressures ≥1.0 kPa at 0.0001% probability level. Film specifications for MA packaging of cut broccoli at 0C were calculated based on the predicted target O2 partial pressures.
Natural variation of product respiration rate and temperature variation during shipping and marketing influence the atmosphere inside MA packages. Respiration rate variation data was collected at 0C and 5.5C for `Allstar' and `Honeoye' strawberries and at 5.5C for `Heritage' raspberries. Coefficient of variation was 8% for raspberries and ranged from 6.5% to 12.5% for strawberries. To determine package-to-package variations, steady-state O2 partial pressures were measured in 100 similarly designed packages and frequency distributions were constructed. For `Honeoye' variety, `O2 partial pressures ranged from 3.5 kPa to 13.7 kPa with a median of 7.5 kPa in one set of packages and from 0.4 to 1.65 kPa with a median of 0.6 kPa in another set of packages with different design. Large variations were also observed for `Allstar' variety and raspberries. The results compared well with package O2 distributions predicted by a mathematical model that was constructed based on respiration rate variation. A modeling approach was used to predict frequency distributions and changes in gas levels in strawberry and raspberry packages for several possible temperature variation situations and for different types of package designs.
`Heritage' raspberries (Rubus idaeus L.) were sealed in low-density polyethylene packages and stored at 0, 10, and 20C during Fall 1990 and 1991 to study respiratory responses under modified atmospheres. A range of steady-state O2 and CO2 partial pressures were achieved by varying fruit weight in packages of a specific surface area and film thickness. Film permeability to O2 and CO2 was measured and combined with surface area and film thickness to estimate total package permeability. Rates of O2 uptake and CO2 production and respiratory quotient (RQ) were calculated using steady-state O2 and CO2 partial pressures, total package permeability, and fruit weight. The O2 uptake rate decreased with decreasing O2 partial pressure over the range of partial pressure studied. The Michaelis-Menten equation was used to model O2 uptake as a function of O2 partial pressure and temperature. The apparent Km(K½) remained constant (5.6 kPa O2 with temperature, while Q10 was estimated to be 1.9. RQ was modeled as a function of O2 partial pressure and temperature. Headspace ethanol increased at RQs >1.3 to 1.5. Based on RQ, ethanol production, and flavor, we recommend that raspberries be stored at O2 levels above 4 kPa at 0C, 6 kPa at 10C, and 8 kPa at 20C. Steady-state CO2 partial pressures of 3 to 17 kPa had little or no effect on O2 uptake or headspace ethanol partial pressures at 20C.