Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/22/2005
Publication Date: 4/22/2005
Citation: Fan, X. 2005. Assessment of quality attributes of fresh-cut vegetables exposed to ionizing radiation (abstract). International Fresh-Cut Processors Association. Paper No. 014-04. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Fresh-cut produce is consumed raw without further antimicrobial measures. Therefore, fresh-cut processors have to assure their products are free of human pathogens. In recent years, there has been increased interest in application of ionizing radiation to enhance microbiological safety of various foods, including fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. Ionizing radiation, a non-thermal processing technology, is ideally used as a terminal step after products are packaged, avoiding further contamination before consumption. Studies have been conducted on a number of fresh-cut vegetables to investigate the feasibility of irradiation applied either alone or in combination with other treatments. Our results showed that some fresh-cut vegetables such as leafy lettuces, broccoli and cilantro, can tolerate up to 1 kGy without significant quality changes. Vitamin C content was not significantly affected by irradiation at those doses. Irradiation increased phenolic content and antioxidant capacity, thereby promoting health benefits of fresh-cut vegetables. Major quality changes in some vegetables due to irradiation appeared to be tissue browning and loss of tissue integrity, resulting in a decreased shelf-life. Irradiation caused damage on cell membrane evidenced by the soggy appearance as well as by the increase in electrolyte leakage measured with a conductivity meter. Use of modified atmosphere packaging and warm water treatment reduced tissue browning caused by irradiation. Variations in the radiation sensitivity of fresh-cut vegetables did not necessarily correlate with endogenous antioxidant levels. Combination of irradiation with other techniques such as modified atmosphere packaging, antibrowning agents, calcium, and heat shock may be a good approach to maintain quality.