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Fruit and Vegetable Films Keep Food Fresh and Tasty

By Kathryn Barry Stelljes
December 18, 2000

Edible films made from pureed fruits and vegetables can add shelf-life and tantalizing new flavors to lightly processed foods such as cut produce, Agricultural Research Service scientists reported Saturday in Honolulu.

ARS food technologist Tara McHugh developed the films from produce like apples, oranges, carrots and strawberries. Some films also contain Food and Drug Administration-approved oils and antioxidants. She then applied the thin, opaque films to cut apples. The films controlled browning and prevented moisture loss better than several types of coatings.

An added benefit: The films could provide new flavor combinations, such as a strawberry film on cut bananas or an apple glaze on pork.

McHugh presented results of her research at the International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies. She works at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, Calif.

Sheets of pureed fruit have long been available as snack foods. But McHugh is the first to explore produce-based films to enhance storage and flavor. ARS has applied for a patent on the edible films (application no. 09/330,365).

ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contact: Tara McHugh, ARS Western Regional Research Center, Process Chemistry and Engineering Research Unit, Albany, Calif., phone (510) 559-5864, fax (510) 559-5851,