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Ultraviolet light maintains quality, extends shelf life of green fresh-cut bell peppers.

It appears that exposing fresh produce to ultraviolet (UV) C radiation before packing and refrigerating the product could be a useful nonchemical way to maintain product quality and reduce postharvest losses in the fresh-cut produce industry.

Scientists in Argentina selected UV C, one of the three types of invisible light, as a treatment for freshly cut mature green bell peppers. They evaluated the impact the treatment had on maintaining product quality when it was combined with refrigeration. They found that UV C can retain the quality of refrigerated fresh-cut green peppers.

In tests, sticks of bell pepper were treated with up to 20 kilojoules (kJ) per m2 of UV C on the outer, inner, or on both sides of the pericarp. These samples were stored for eight days at 10 C. During the first five days of storage, all UV C treatments reduced deterioration in the samples, as compared to the control. The sample that had been treated with 20 kJ per m2 on both sides of the pericarp underwent the most effective reduction in deterioration.

In a second group of experiments, the scientists treated mature green bell pepper sticks with 20 kJ per m2 of UV C on both sides of the pericarp. These samples were stored at 5 C for seven or 12 days and underwent physical and chemical analysis, and evaluations for microbiological quality.

These UV C-treated samples had fewer exudates and underwent less shriveling than the control did. Exposing the samples to UV light also reduced decay, tissue damage and the extent of electrolyte leakage. After 12 days at 5 C, the UV C-irradiated peppers remained firmer and more greatly resisted deformation than did the control. The UV C treatments also reduced weight loss and pectin solubilization in the samples. Exposure to UV C decreased the counts of mesophile bacteria and molds, and did not affect acidity or sugars in the samples at all. The UV C-treated fruit stored for 0 days or seven days at 5 C did have any significant differences in antioxidant content as compared to the control.

Further information. Ariel R. Vicente, Center for Research and Development in Food Cryotechnology, Conicet-Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Calle 47 esq. 116, La Plata, Buenos Aires, CP 1900, Argentina; phone: 221 425 4533; email:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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