Fresh, peeled, whole baby carrots are fast becoming the driving force in sales of fresh carrots. In 1991, 200 million tons were marketed to food service and retail outlets. “Peeled whole baby carrots” are mature carrots cut to 5 cm lengths and peeled in a modified potato peeler. Two problems have developed which are limiting the expansion of this market: 1) the product as currently packed develops a slimey rot in 10 days and 2) a “white blush” forms on the exposed surface of the product after 5 days.
Tests on the atmosphere of the bag indicated that the product was generating a low O2 environment, causing the growth of anaerobic rots. Evaluations of several film materials were undertaken to find a formulation which would provide an O2 level above 5% and CO2 below 7%, a level above which some cultivars are injured. Sucrose ester and cellulose based edible films and anti-oxidants were applied to the product to help eliminate white blush, which could be the product of dehydration or lignin formation.
A cellulose-base edible film supplied from the USDA and a mineral impregnated single ply low density polyethylene 1.5 mil bag were selected as the optimum packaging combination. Storage at 5C was improved to 50 days, with white blush and decay greatly reduced. Studies on the logistics of the edible film application are continuing.