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Electrolytic technique inhibits or accelerates deterioration reactions in beverage products.

The limitation of shelf life imposed on beverage systems--juices, beer, milk, wine--is an important concern for food manufacturers and consumers. A product's shelf life can be shortened by the time-dependent development of off-flavors, browning, color and the deterioration of nutrients, which can be caused by the oxidative reactions of chemical and nutrient components.

Canadian scientists developed an electrolytic technique that can inhibit such deterioration reactions. Orange juice was submitted to electro-reduction and electro-oxidation treatments before it was pasteurized. The juice was then compared to a control juice for oxidation-reduction potential (ORP), dissolved oxygen and ascorbic acid content.

The researchers evaluated the evolution of non-enzymatic browning reactions and ascorbic acid degradation at 4 C, 21 C and 37 C storage temperatures. Electro-reduction of the juice at 6 V created a substantial reducing reservoir as ORP decreased from +161 mV to -406 mV. Electro-reduction decreased dissolved oxygen by more than 90% of its initial content. Ascorbic acid content was not altered.

In contrast, the electro-oxidation treatment raised the final ORP of the juice by 15 mV to 20 mV, increased substantially the dissolved oxygen content and decreased significantly the ascorbic acid retention. Electro-oxidation increased non-enzymatic browning reactions during storage. Both the control and electro-reduced juices showed very similar trends in ascorbic acid degradation over a three-month storage period. The anions, cations and amino acid profiles of the juice remained unchanged.

Contrary to the control and electro-reduced juices, the electro-oxidation process severely decreased the orange flavor's intensity and character, being characterized as musty with a sour-bitter aftertaste.

The electrolytic technique using an electrochemical cell can inhibit or accelerate deterioration reactions by reducing or oxidizing organic and inorganic compounds inherent to products, as well as by effectively controlling the oxygen content in products.

The technique can be used as an alternative to the deliberate addition of chemical compounds, such as sulfite and other reducing substances, intended to inhibit deterioration reactions (electro-reduction) and accelerate the aging process of edible products by an accelerated oxidation process (electro-oxidation).

Further information. Patrick Fustier, PhD, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Food Research and Development Center, 3600 Casavant Blvd. W., Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec J2S 8E3, Canada; phone: 450-768-9612; fax: 450-768-7851; email:

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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Oct 1, 2018
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