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Scientists prepare fresh-cut produce.

Improving Quality of Fresh-Cut Produce

By Doris Stanley
February 25, 1997

Fresh-cut carrots that go for a dip in a calcium chloride solution stay firm and crisp and are less likely to carry potentially harmful microorganisms, scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service say.

ARS scientists collaborated with Japanese researchers in testing calcium chloride’s ability to protect cut carrots. The calcium chloride treatment also worked well on cut zucchini squash, which is highly perishable and very sensitive to cold temperatures.

Maintaining and improving quality of fresh-cut produce is a major challenge in the fast- growing market for fresh fruits and vegetables. The produce industry now uses a chlorine solution to control microorganisms on cut produce, but it isn’t always effective.

For maximum quality, fresh-cut produce should be handled and stored at or near 32 degrees F if the product is not sensitive to chilling injury, the ARS scientists say. Many processors now prepare, ship, and store fresh-cuts at 41 degrees or even 50 degrees F.

Sales of fresh-cut produce in the United States are projected to increase from $5.8 billion in 1994 to $19 billion in 1999.

The complete story on protecting quality of vegetable “cutups” is available in the January issue of Agricultural Research magazine, the monthly publication of the Agricultural Research Service.

Scientific contact: Scientific contact: Alley E. Watada, USDA-ARS Horticultural Crops Quality Laboratory, Beltsville, Md., phone (301) 504-6128, e-mail