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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Determining Tissue Damage of Fresh-Cut Vegetables Using Image Technology

Authors
item Luo, Yaguang
item Yang, Tao - UNIV MARYLAND

Submitted to: Acta Horticulture Proceedings
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 21, 2003
Publication Date: June 10, 2003
Citation: Luo, Y., Yang, T. 2003. Determining tissue damage of fresh-cut vegetables using image technology. In: Acta Horticulture Proceedings 628:97-102.

Interpretive Summary: There is increasing demand by consumers for convenient forms of fresh fruits and vegetables, precut and packaged in ready-to-eat containers. Thus, the "fresh-cut" segment of the fresh produce industry has been growing rapidly and should continue to do so as long as fresh-cut produce can be provided in a high quality form with an acceptable shelf-life. A major challenge facing the industry is dealing with the wounding that occurs during cutting, slicing and dicing of whole fruits and vegetables into fresh-cut forms. A method to easily and accurately measure the amount and location of the damage done to cut surfaces is needed. This research paper describes the development and application of a new technology in measuring tissue damage and offers fresh-cut produce manufacturers and researchers a new tool to determine tissue damage objectively and quantitatively, leading to a major improvement over currently used subjective and laborious visual evaluation. The method is easy to use and only requires minimal investment in a digital camera and software. A practical application of this method in our laboratory was shown to be valuable for determining the effect of drying machines on tissue damage of fresh-cut lettuce and baby spinach. Since tissue damage impacts significantly on quality and safety of fresh-cut produce, this new technology can help the produce industry improve food quality and safety by optimizing post-washing drying processes, thus reducing tissue damage. This will then increase quality, microbial safety and shelf-life. In addition to fresh-cut products, this new technology may also be applicable in studies of tissue damage of whole fresh fruits and vegetables during postharvest handling and transportation. In addition to consumers of fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh produce processors, packers, wholesalers and retailers will benefit from this research.

Technical Abstract: A method of quantitatively measuring tissue damage during fresh-cut vegetable processing was developed based on optical imaging technology. Images of damaged and undamaged tissues were acquired through a digital imaging system. The damaged areas were recognized and quantified using an Image-Pro Plus software program based on color differences of the damaged and undamaged tissues. For samples showing no color differences between the damaged and undamaged, the tissues were stained by a 0.5% catechol solution via an accelerated browning reaction. This method was applied to determine the tissue damage of fresh-cut baby spinach and iceberg lettuce during centrifuge drying process. Significant differences were found among drying speeds and locations of the samples in the centrifuge drying baskets. By reducing centrifuge speed, a significant reduction in tissue damage of fresh-cut baby spinach and iceberg lettuce was obtained, especially on those located along the side of the centrifuge drying baskets.

Last Modified: 12/18/2014