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Sodium acid sulfate is a potential anti-browning treatment for fresh-cut apples, pears.

In recent years, fresh-cut fruits have gained popularity with health-conscious consumers. Fresh-cut produce is one of the fastest growing segments of the food industry in the United States, with the fresh-cut fruit category being a significant contributor to this growth.

A number of anti-browning treatments, such as ascorbic acid, citric acid, 4-hexylresorcinol, erythorbic acid and benzoic acid, have been used in the past with varying success to retard enzymatic browning. Commercially, very limited choices are available, with one, NatureSeal[R], containing calcium ascorbate as its active ingredient.

Scientists at Michigan State University wanted to assess the effectiveness of sodium acid sulfate[R] (SAS) (Jones-Hamilton Co.) as a color preservation treatment for fresh-cut apples and pears. Their work shows that SAS has potential for this application. In experiments, Golden Delicious and Empire apples and d'Anjou pears were washed and diced into 3/8-inch pieces. The cut fruit was dipped in water, as the control, or in a 1% SAS solution for 1 minute, with occasional gentle shaking to apply the treatment uniformly.

For accelerated changes in color, which were recorded at 1, 4 and 24 hours, the treated fruit samples were stored at room temperature--23 C. The control sample underwent significant visible color degradation and browning, which was also measured using a Hunter color meter. A small trained panel evaluated the cut fruit for various sensory attributes, including the degree of browning, texture and overall acceptability. For both the apples and pears, the SAS treatment resulted in a significant improvement in the ability of the product to retain color. The differences in color quality, as observed visually, were supported by higher Hunter color "L" values for the treated samples, compared with the control samples.

On a scale of one to nine, with nine indicating no browning had occurred, the sensory scores for degree of browning ranged between seven and eight for all SAS-treated samples. The control scores were about four. Sensory evaluation also showed that the SAS-treated fruit pieces were fresher in appearance. The control samples lacked this appeal. Further work on SAS as an anti-browning treatment is continuing as scientists investigate package compatibility and the shelf life of cut fruit.

Further information: Muhammad Siddiq, Ph.D., Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824; phone: 517-355-8474; fax: 517-353-8963; email:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Feb 1, 2009
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