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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PROCESSING INTERVENTION TECHNOLOGIES FOR ENHANCING THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF FLUID FOODS AND BEVERAGES

Location: Food Safety and Intervention Technologies

Title: Effect of ionizing radiation on furan formation in fresh-cut fruits and vegetables

Authors
item Fan, Xuetong
item Sokorai, Kimberly

Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 20, 2007
Publication Date: February 1, 2008
Citation: Fan, X., Sokorai, K.J. 2008. Effect of ionizing radiation on furan formation in fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. Journal of Food Science. 73(2):C79-C83.

Interpretive Summary: Furan is regarded as a possible carcinogen by the Department of Health and Human Services and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. This compound has been found in foods that have been treated with traditional heating techniques, such as canning. Our earlier results suggest that ionizing radiation, a non-thermal processing technology, can also induce low levels of furan in solutions of simple sugars and ascorbic acid. Many fruits and vegetables are rich in sugars and ascorbic acid. However, whether or not furan is induced by irradiation in fresh produce is not known. This study was conducted to determine whether furan is induced by irradiation in fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, and if produced, what levels of furan were in irradiated produce. Nineteen fresh-cut fruits and vegetables were irradiated to 5 kilogray gamma rays at 4 degree Celsius. Furan was analyzed from the irradiated samples using a number of preparation methods. Results showed that almost all tested fruits and vegetables, upon irradiation, produced non-detectable levels, or less than 1 ng/g of furan. The information is useful for regulatory bodies to make science-based decisions about the safety and wholesomeness of irradiated fresh produce, and can encourage the industry to improve safety of fresh produce using ionizing radiation.

Technical Abstract: Furan, a possible carcinogen, is commonly induced by thermal processing in a wide variety of foods. The possible formation of furan from fresh-cut fruits and vegetables due to irradiation was studied. Nineteen fresh-cut fruits and vegetables were irradiated to 5 kGy gamma rays at 4C. Furan was analyzed from the irradiated samples using a number of preparation methods. Results showed that almost all tested fruits and vegetables, upon irradiation, produced non-detectable levels, or less than 1 ng/g of furan. Irradiation induced low ng/g levels of furan only in grape and pineapple. Dipping apple slices into calcium salt of ascorbic acid before irradiation did not increase furan formation. The pH and the amount of simple sugars in fresh fruits and vegetables had a role in furan formation. Low levels of furan were induced by irradiation only in those fruits that had a high amount of simple sugars and low pH.

Last Modified: 8/21/2014
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