Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Surface Treatments and Edible Coatings in Food Preservation

Author
item Baldwin, Elizabeth

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: July 7, 1997
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: This chapter is a review of the various surface treatments used to preserve food items along with their status according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One type of treatment is the use of edible coatings for different purposes. For example, edible coatings are used to physically protect food, to prevent dehydration, to prevent dicoloration, to improve appearance by adding color or shine, or to carry compounds that affect coated food items in some benifical way. Other treatments described in this review include use of antitoxidants to prevent discoloration, use of preservatives or fungicides to prevent decay, and use of other compounds such as salts or natural plant products to prolong food shelf life.

Technical Abstract: There are many surface treatments used to preserve food items and, thus, extend their shelf life. This review describes different types of surface treatments for food items. One type of treatment is the use of edible coatings. Such coatings can be made from lipid, resin, protein, or carbohydrate compounds or, more commonly, mixtures of any of these. Coatings can affect product water loss, metabolism (in the case of fruits and vegetables), oxidation, and appearance. Addition of plasticizers, emulsifiers, and surfactants affect coating permeability and performance. Other surface treatments include use of fungicides, preservatives and other plant-derived antifungal compounds to control growth of microorganisms. Minerals and plant growth regulators can also be used to extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables. Fumigation of food items with gaseous compounds can help control decay, metabolic reactions, and insect pests. Legal aspects and attitude of consumers toward these various treatments ar discussed and lists of FDA approved compounds are given.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014