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  • Author or Editor: Jan Narciso x
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A comparison of sanitizers for fresh-cut mango (Mangifera indica cv. Keitt) was made. Mangos were obtained from a farm in Homestead, Fla., and stored at 15 °C until processed. Before cutting, fruit were dipped in solutions of either sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) (200 ppm) or peroxyacetic acid (100 ppm). The cut pieces were dipped in acidified sodium chlorite (NaClO2) (200 ppm, pH 2.6) or dilute peroxyacetic acid (50 ppm) for 30 seconds. Resulting cut slices were placed in polystyrene clamshell food containers and stored at 5 °C for 21 days. Samples in the clamshells were tested for changes in microbial stability and for quality parameters every 7 days. Results showed that even though the fruit slices were sanitized after cutting, cut fruit microbial populations were related to the method of whole fruit sanitation. After 15-21 days in storage at 5 °C, cut slices from whole fruit sanitized with peroxyacetic acid that were subsequently treated with dilute peroxyacetic acid or acidified NaClO2 had less contamination [<1 colony-forming unit (cfu) per gram] than samples cut from whole fruit sanitized with NaOCl (<1000 to 3700 cfu/g). These data demonstrate that the method of whole fruit sanitation plays a role in determining the cleanliness of the cut fruit. These sanitizer systems (peroxyacetic acid on whole fruit followed by peroxyacetic acid or acidified NaClO2 on cut slices) effectively reduced microbial growth and kept microbial counts low on cut fruit surfaces for 21 days when compared to cut fruit slices from NaOCl-treated whole fruit.

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Organic foods are produced using agricultural practices that emphasize renewable resources and conservation of soil and water. Horticultural crops are grown and processed without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, ingredients and processing aids. Crops or ingredients derived from genetic engineering, and use of ionizing radiation are prohibited in organic production. The challenge is to deliver produce that has the same safety, quality and shelf life as conventional products, with a limited array of tools available for sanitation and postharvest treatments. Organic operators, professionals servicing the industry, as well as researchers involved in organic production practices, should be aware of all the points in the process of storing, handling and transforming horticultural crops where accidental contamination could occur, and thus compromise organic integrity. This presentation summarizes the major points of the National Organic Program for processing and handling, and gives suggestions for postharvest research. For example, finding organic alternatives for postharvest decay control is critical to maintain food safety. Additionally, ingredients compatible for fresh cut and produce coatings must be developed for the organic market for food safety and competitiveness.

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Strawberry fruit were harvested on three different dates from the Strawberry Association plot (cv. Festival), a commercial farm (cv. Camino Real), and at the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center (cv. Sweet Charlie), in central Florida in 2005 and 2006. Fruit were transported to the USCSPL in Winter Haven, Fla., sorted, dipped for 10 s in treatment solutions, drained and stored in commercial clam-shells at 15 to 19 °C. Percentage of decay (number of fruit with lesions) was monitored during storage. There were 10 fruit per replicate clamshell, and three to four replicates per treatment for each harvest. Treatments included three size classes of galacturonic acid (GA) oligomers with a degree of polymerization (DP) ranging from 1–13, 8–24, and 22–46 and undigested polygalacturonic acid at 0.2% in 50 mmol LiOAC, LiOAC/NaOAC, with 22% ETOH, or KOAC buffer (all buffers at pH ≈4.4), prepared by enzymatic digestion followed by differential pH and alcohol precipitation. The main pathogens found on these fruit were Rhizopus stolonifer and Botrytis cinera at 1×105 cfu/g fruit in 2005 and 5×107 in 2006. The medium range oligomers (DP 8-24) reduced decay significantly compared to buffer alone or to the lower or higher DP GA oligomers, and elicited ethylene production. Oligomers in this pectin size class have previously been reported to elicit ethylene and plant defense responses in plant tissues.

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Laser labeling of fruit and vegetables is an alternative means of labeling produce in which a low-energy carbon dioxide laser beam etches the surface and reveals a contrasting underlying layer. These etched surfaces can promote water loss and may increase the number of entry sites for decay-promoting organisms. The long-term effects of laser labeling on produce quality during storage have not been examined. We conducted experiments to measure water loss, peel appearance, and potential decay in laser-labeled grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) during storage. Laser-labeled fruit stored at 10 °C and two relative humidities (i.e., 95% and 65%) for 5 weeks showed no increase in decay compared with nonetched control fruit, suggesting that laser labeling does not facilitate decay. This was confirmed by experiments where Penicillium digitatum spores were coated on fruit surfaces before and after etching. In either case, no decay was observed. In agar plates containing a lawn of P. digitatum spores, the laser etching reduced germination of spores in contact areas. Water loss from etched areas and label appearance were determined during storage. Water loss from waxed etched surfaces reached control levels after 24 h in storage. Label appearance slowly deteriorated during 4 weeks in storage and was proportional to laser energy levels and ambient relative humidity. Waxing the labeled surface reduced water loss by 35% to 94%, depending on the wax formulation used. We concluded that laser labeling provides the grapefruit industry a safe alternative to adhesive sticker labeling without enhancing decay susceptibility.

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Previous research showed that mature green tomato fruit dipped 1 to 4 min in a 1% CaCl2 solutions before storage had significantly increased peel calcium content and reduced postharvest decay. The present experiments, conducted over 3-day periods (reps), evaluate treatment effectiveness under commercial packinghouse conditions. Three cartons of 5 × 6 sized mature green `FL 47' tomatoes were collected from the line (control). CaCl2 was then added to the packinghouse 15,142-L dump tank to a concentration of 1% before more fruit were run through the line and three additional cartons collected. The cycle was repeated after bringing the concentration in the dump tank up to 2% CaCl2. After storage for ≤24 days at 20 °C, postharvest decay was significantly reduced in fruit receiving the 2% CaCl2 treatment. Calcium content in the tomato peel tended to increase with each successively higher CaCl2 treatment, but differences were nonsignificant. Laboratory tests showed Rhizopus more affected by 3% CaCl2, while Alternaria was affected by 2% and 3% CaCl2 solutions. Results were recorded as colony diameter, but colony morphology and sporulation were also affected. Inoculation studies of tomatoes dipped in 1% CaCl2 after wounding with Rhizopus or Alternaria showed better decay control when compared to treating before wounding.

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Oranges can be satisfactorily processed for fresh slices using a process of enzyme infiltration under vacuum. Scored ‘Valencia’ and ‘Hamlin’ oranges were placed under 90 kPa vacuum in water, 1% citric acid (CA), or 1000 ppm pectinase (Ultrazym) at 30 °C for 2 min followed by 30 min incubation in air. After peeling, fruit were washed, cut, and all but CA-infused slices were dipped in water or 1% CA for 2 min. Drained slices were placed in sealed 454-mL deli containers and stored at 5 °C for up to 21 days. All ‘Valencia’ slices had microbial counts less than 1.0 log cfu·g−1 (cfu = colony-forming units) after 7 days storage, and slices from CA-infused fruit had less than 1.0 log cfu·g−1 after 21 days storage. For ‘Hamlin’, CA dips controlled bacterial growth on slices from water-infused oranges, except at 14 days. Enzyme-infused oranges resulted in slices with lower counts for both cultivars. CA-treated sliced (post enzyme treatment or by infusion) oranges had higher titratable acidity initially (‘Hamlin’) and after 14 days (‘Valencia’). When presented to a taste panel, ‘Valencia’ slices from enzyme-peeled fruit were preferred for texture after 2 days and 8 days in storage. In contrast, slices from fruit infused with water or citric acid were least preferred, were firmer, and had thicker segment membranes. Appearance of enzyme-treated fruit was preferred for ‘Hamlin’ oranges. Enzyme treatments increased levels of aroma volatiles, methanol and methyl butanoate, in ‘Hamlin’ slices, but overall sensory flavor data were unaffected.

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The effect of controlled-release chlorine dioxide (ClO2) gas on the safety and quality of grapefruit was studied. The experiments were run under controlled chamber systems with inoculated fruit, and in boxed fruit under commercial conditions. For the inoculation test, fruit artificially inoculated with either Escherichia coli or Penicillium digitatum, or naturally inoculated Xanthomonas citri ssp. citri (Xcc) (fruits with citrus canker lesions), were incubated in a chamber containing a dose equivalent to 0–60 mg·L−1 of pure ClO2 as an antimicrobial agent. After 24 hours, the microbial population on treated grapefruit was significantly reduced compared with that of control fruit: a dosage of 5 mg·L−1 completely inhibit the growth of E. coli and P. digitatum, but a dosage of 60 mg·L−1 was needed to completely kill Xcc. For the simulated commercial experiment, fruit were harvested in late Oct. 2015 passed through a commercial packing line, and packed in 29 L citrus boxes. ClO2 packets were attached to the top lids with the following five treatments: fast-release, slow-release, slow/fast-release combination (each containing 14.5 mg·L−1 of pure ClO2), double dose fast-release (containing 29 mg·L−1 of ClO2), and control. After 6 weeks of storage at 10 °C (to simulate storage and transportation) + 1 week of storage at 20 °C (to simulate retail marketing), the fruit quality was evaluated. The slow-release treatment at standard dose exhibited the best antimicrobial activity, reducing total aerobic bacterial count and yeast/mold count by 0.95 and 0.94 log colony-forming units (cfu)/g of fruit, respectively, and maintained the best visual, sensory, and overall quality. However, the higher dosage treatments resulted in phytotoxicity as evidenced by peel browning.

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