Breathing "film" keeps cutting products fresh

In more and more consumer markets, consumption of convenient, packaged fresh-cut fruits and vegetables is showing an upward trend. Because of the high fiber and low calorie content, these pre-cut products provide healthy choices for busy consumers. In some developed countries, there has even been a tendency to consume only raw foods, and fresh products occupy a large share of such foods.

The overcoat or film that covers the pre-cut product seems to provide only a simple package. However, today's packaging films are not just packaged. The choice of membrane depends on the type of product being packaged.

Each membrane has an oxygen transmission rate that helps the cutting product continue to breathe throughout the entire storage and sale process. There are hundreds of different types of membranes on the market, each with a unique level of infiltration. This feature must be consistent with the requirements of a particular fruit or vegetable variety. Another important feature is how much oxygen is diffused into the package before sealing.

Maintain a balance

The key to maintaining quality and extending shelf life is to establish an accurate balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the packaging. This technology, known as Modified Atmosphere Packaging, allows fresh cut products to maintain lower breath and stay fresh for the longest possible storage period.

Yaguang Luo, a food technology expert at the US Department of Agriculture's Product Quality and Safety Laboratory, has studied the oxygen and carbon dioxide transport rates of packaging films and how they affect the quality of the products in the bags.

Manufacturers have produced hundreds of different types of membranes, and each membrane has its own oxygen transmission rate, which helps the cutting product continue to breathe throughout the entire storage and sale process. For a particular variety of packaging, if the oxygen transmission rate of the film is too high, the product within this package will undergo browning; if the oxygen transmission rate of the film is too low, the product will prematurely rot.

Fresh-cut fruit and vegetable varieties are still alive and breathe at their own unique rate. Therefore, the permeability of the membrane and the amount of oxygen initially diffused into the package are the most critical.

She said: “It is very important that the level of oxygen infiltration be consistent with the respiration rate of the specific product being packaged. For example, lettuce, if the oxygen infiltration rate of the packaging film is too high, the product will be browned; if the film The oxygen infiltration rate is too low and the product will rot."

Extend the shelf life

Luo's research has discovered and promoted the development of a balanced technology for oxygen and carbon dioxide in selected packaging. It can ensure that certain fresh-cut products maintain low breath and remain fresh for as long as possible.

For example, the freshness of Coriandum sativum is very important for Chinese dishes, but the freshly cut coriander has a high respiration rate, which makes storage a big challenge. Shortly after cutting, the coriander leaves will turn yellow, dehydrated and lose their aroma. With Luo's established film packaging, the shelf life of Husong can reach 14 days. Therefore, there is plenty of time to purchase this leafy, irritating vanilla from the food store and chop it up for nourishing soup or steamed fish dish to make the soup more vivid.

Using similar advanced packaging techniques, Luo has been able to extend the shelf life of romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, carrots and savoy cabbage. Savoy cabbage is a nutritious emerging vegetable that has a similar classification relationship with kale and cabbage.

Application in China

China's fruit and vegetable market is the largest part of the retail food market. It is still the mainland market, including the packaging market, and the last part that is vulnerable to the new retail model.

Although it is still in its infancy, as growers, larger and better agricultural organizations will develop and become more active, providing products for the rapid expansion of fast-growing supermarkets outside the big cities of China and the rapid expansion of the high-end chain market. In China, consumer demand has also driven the rapid growth in the production and consumption of organic products. For many Chinese farmers, this trend has created new opportunities for them.

For the fresh-cut industry, it is a challenge to maintain consumer acceptance of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables after processing and throughout the sales process. Research helps to find ways to broaden the variety of forms of supply that fruits and vegetables can keep fresh before they are finally consumed.