Submitted to: Journal of Food Science
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/16/2014
Publication Date: 5/15/2014
Citation: Sun, X., Narciso, J.A., Wang, Z., Ference, C.M., Bai, J., Zhou, K. 2014. Effects of Chitosan-Essential Oil Coatings on Safety and Quality of Fresh Blueberries. Journal of Food Science. 79(5):955-960. Available: doi:10.llll/l750-3841.12447 Interpretive Summary: Blueberries are high-value fruit with strong antioxidant capacity and other health-promoting benefits. However, microbial food safety is an increasing concern, and decay and softening limits their storability. A combination of the essential oils carvacrol (0.1%) and trans-cinnamaldehyde (-0.2%) with a chitosan coating effectively reduced softening of fresh berries and decay by inhibiting microbial growth.
Technical Abstract: Chitosan coating plus different essential oils was developed and applied to fresh blueberries, in order to find environmentally friendly and healthy treatments to preserve fresh fruit quality and safety during postharvest storage. Studies were first performed in vitro where wild-type Escherichia coli and Penicillium digitatum were grown in suitable media, and then subjected to six essential oils. Three compounds, carvacrol (CAR), cinnamaldehyde (CIN) and trans-cinnamaldehyde (ECIN) had high antimicrobial capacity and were selected for an in vivo study for postharvest storage of blueberries. The selected essential oils, 0.5% each, were added into a chitosan solution and coated on fresh blueberries. After storage at 5, 10 and 20 °C for various days, fruit firmness and microbial populations were evaluated. Chitosan coating substantially decreased bacteria and yeasts/molds on the fruit, and all three essential oils added to the antimicrobial activities. Further dosage experiments showed that the antimicrobial activity remained even when lowering CAR concentration to 0.1% and ECIN to 0.2%. Chitosan, CAR and ECIN also maintained fruit firmness. Our results suggest that chitosan coatings containing essential oils are effective in extending the shelf life of fresh blueberries.