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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENHANCEMENT OF THE QUALITY AND MICROBIAL STABILITY OF FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES WITH EDIBLE COATINGS AND OTHER SURFACE TREATMENTS

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2005 Annual Report


1.What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it (summarize project aims and objectives)? How serious is the problem? What does it matter?
Loss of fruits and vegetables to spoilage was estimated to be 25% in temperate climates and higher in tropical regions. Worldwide citrus fresh fruit losses to decay were estimated in 1990 to be about 23-33% of the harvested crop. These figures would suggest that spoilage losses of the U.S. citrus crop amount to about $300 million annually. Postharvest losses are especially expensive because they include the costs of shipping and packing, whereas losses on the farm cost less. The loss of internal quality, such as texture and flavor, is less apt than spoilage to result in rejection of the product, but often result in reduced repeat sales. The growing organic market requires development of organically acceptable postharvest treatments that include methods for sanitation, decay control and protective coatings.

The quality of fruits and vegetables declines after harvest, meanwhile, quality and preservation of whole and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables is of considerable importance in determining their marketability and consumption. At the same time that increased sanitation and reduced spoilage is expected, there has been loss of approved fungicides. In addition, consumers are expecting greater availability of fruits and vegetables with the organic label. This situation calls for development of new and more green technologies to provide the quality and shelf life that the market demands. Furthermore, increased international trade calls for longer shelf-life to cope with more distant surface transport of commodities.

The proposed research is highly relevant to National Program Area 306, Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products, Component 1, Quality Characterization, Preservation and Enhancement. It addresses the prevention of decay and quality loss after harvest and development of environmentally friendly products and technologies, which are fundamental tenets of NP 306. The project has three specific goals:.
1)to develop improved technology, including new uses for coatings to preserve the quality, edibility and storability of fresh produce,.
2)to develop a better model and understanding of how fruit coatings influence concentrations of internal gases and aroma volatiles, and.
3)to develop methods to improve the quality, edibility and storability of fresh-cut produce, while controlling the growth of spoilage organisms. Successful completion of these goals would benefit the fresh produce industry, packers and retail outlets.


2.List the milestones (indicators of progress) from your Project Plan.
Year 1 (FY 2005) 1. Undertake field survey of microflora in citrus groves.

2. Test coatings with elicitors and organic oils on citrus and strawberry.

3. Measure peel barriers to some compounds.

4. Develop new organic coatings.

5. Test elicitors an phytoalexins on fresh-cut produce.

Year 2 (FY 2006) 1. Repeat and start to develop predictive model for preharvest factors.

2. Prepare manuscripts on preharvest methodology and efficacy of coating treatments.

3. Develop predictive models for coating permeability effects on fruit quality.

4. Prepare manuscript on models.

5. Combine elicitors and phytoalexins with coatings and test on fresh-cut produce.

6. Prepare manuscripts on elicitor work.

Year 3 (FY 2007) 1. Evaluation of coatings to reduce microflora.

2. Survey microflora in fruit downstream from packinghouses.

3. Prepare manuscripts on preharvest predictions and coating work.

4. Validate models on coating permeability effects on fruit quality.

5. Transfer technology.

6. Try successful treatments on commercial scale and on other types of produce.

7. Prepare manuscripts on coating work.

Year 4 (FY 2008) 1. Develop packing house guidelines based on survey data.

2. Prepare manuscripts on coating data.

3. Transfer technology on coating work and preharvest predictions.

4. Measure peel barriers for hydrophilic compounds.

5. Prepare manuscripts on coating models.

6. Optimize and transfer technology.

Year 5 (FY 2009) 1. Conclude studies/Objective 1.

2. Prepare manuscripts and complete technology transfer/Objective 1.

3. Conclude studies/Objective 2.

4. Prepare manuscripts and complete technology transfer/Objective 2.

5. Conclude studies/Objective 3.

6. Prepare manuscripts and complete technology transfer/Objective 3.


4a.What was the single most significant accomplishment this past year?
Demonstration that pretreatment of intact fruit can affect fresh cut quality, microbial stability and shelf life: Intact mangoes were pretreated with different levels of ethanol vapor, which increased subsequent cut slice shelf life and quality by maintaining firmness and acidity and reducing microbial populations on the subsequent cut pieces. This finding opens up the possibility of treating intact fruits prior to cutting, rather than the fragil fresh cut product itself, to extend quality and shelf life without risking contamination and damage of the cut product. Intact mangoes, variety Keitt, Kent and Tommy Atkins, were previously treated with different levels of ethanol for different lengths of time at the US Citrus & Subtropical Products Laboratory (USCSPL) in Winter Haven, FL, then sliced, stored and evaluated at the USCSPL. The outcome of this research will result in a more stable cut mango product at little added cost to the industry.


4b.List other significant accomplishments, if any.
Development of an organically-compatible method to sanitize whole fruit for the reduction of microbial populations on both the intact and subsequent cut fruit product: Oranges and mangoes were treated with peroxyacetic acid, then the mangoes were peeled and the flesh sliced and packaged, stored and evaluated for microbial populations. Microbial populations result in decay and deterioration of the intact, and especially, fresh-cut pieces. The peroxyacetic acid out-performed the standard chlorine sanitizer for intact oranges and mangoes and subsequent fresh-cut mango pieces, and is potentially compatible with the organic label, whereas chlorine is not. This research will enable packinghouses to make informed decisions when choosing a sanitizer for intact fruit, especially if the fruit are destined for a fresh-cut product and/or organic product.


4c.List any significant activities that support special target populations.
Intact mango fruit were pretreated with heat, ethanol and 1-MCP, which increased subsequent fresh-cut mango shelf life: Intact mangoes were treated with ethanol vapor and peroxyacetic acid. The outcome of this research will contribute to commercializing a stable cut mango product, providing a value-added product for the struggling tropical fruit industry of south Florida, which is made up mostly of small, family-owned fruit farms.


4d.Progress report.
Hired plant physiologist with sensory background to fill core competency for this area for the facility. The new scientist is 50% on this project and has begun to establish sensory training in the laboratory to interface with the other quality project that involves flavor research where the other 50% of her time is assigned. This new scientist replaced retired scientist who had expertise in edible coatings and coating permeability and who had been assigned 100% to this project.


5.Describe the major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact.
Treatment of intact apples and mangoes with ethanol or heat was shown to affect subsequent cut slice quality and shelf life, which may contribute to the successful commercialization of these products.

All accomplishments contribute to the mission of NP 306, Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products.


6.What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end-user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology products?
Work on the project was presented to the commodity group annual meetings (Florida Packers Association). Work on citrus coatings was presented at local and regional field days (University of Florida Packing House Day), workshops, national scientific meetings, the International Fresh Cut Association annual meeting and the S-294 Regional working group Postharvest Quality and Safety in Fresh Cut Vegetables and Fruits. Presentations on edible coatings were given at a Chinese institute and university.


7.List your most important publications in the popular press and presentations to organizations and articles written about your work. (NOTE: List your peer reviewed publications below).
Rawe, J. Where the Best Ideas Take Wing (part on peeled citrus), Time Magazine, Visions of Tomorrow, Special Report, October, 2004.

Narciso, J. Biological Control Agents: Do they have a Role in Citrus Packinghouses? University of Florida IFAS Packinghouse Newsletter, No. 200. July, 2004.

Narciso, J. Reducing Contamination of Fruit and Packinghouse Surfaces (2 hr. workshop), University of Florida, Packinghouse Day, Ft. Pierce, FL, September, 2005.

Baldwin, E.A. Principles of edible coatings and flavor quality. Chongqing Tree Fruit Institute. Jiangjin, Chongqing, China, and Horticulture Department, China Agriculture University, Beijing, China, December 2005.


Review Publications
Bai, J., Baldwin, E.A., Goodner, K.L., Mattheis, J.P., Brecht, J.K. 2005. Response of Four Apple Cultivars to 1-Methylcyclopropene Treatment and Controlled Atmosphere Storage. HortScience. 40(5):1534-1538.

Lebrun, M., Ducamp, M., Plotto, A., Goodner, K.L., Baldwin, E.A. 2004. Development of electronic nose measurements for mango (mangifera indica) homogenate and whole fruit. Proceedings of Florida State Horticultural Society. 117:421-425.

Hagenmaier, R.D. 2004. Fruit coatings containing ammonia instead of morpholine. Proceedings of Florida State Horticultural Society. 117:396-402.

Hagenmaier, R.D. 2005. A comparison of ethane, ethylene and co2 peel permeance-diffusion for fruit with different coatings. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 37:56-64.

Mccollum, T.G., Chellemi, D.O., Rosskopf, E.N., Church, G.T., Plotto, A. 2005. Postharvest quality of tomatoes produced in organic and conventional production systems. American Society of Horticulture Science Meeting, July 2005. Hort Science, Vol.40(4),p.959.

Narciso, J.A., Plotto, A. 2005. A comparison of sanitation systems for whole fruit and fresh-cut mango. National Meeting of Institute of Food Technologists/Food Expo. Paper No. 36E-4.

Plotto, A., Narciso, J.A., Baldwin, E.A. 2005. Guidelines and acceptable postharvest practices for organically grown produce. American Society of Horticulture Science Meeting. 40:958.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014
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