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Optimal Atmosphere Conditions for Fruits and Vegetables

Optimal Atmosphere Conditions for Fruits and Vegetables

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01/09/2013

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Maintaining optimal atmosphere conditions for fruits and
v
egetables throughout the posthar
v
est handling chain
J.K. Brecht
a,
1
, K.V. Chau
b
, S.C. Fonseca
c
, F.A.R. Oli
v
eira
d
, F.M. Sil
v
a
e
,M.C.N. Nunes
, R.J. Bender
g
a
Horticultural Sciences Department, Uni 
v
ersity of Florida, PO Box 110690, Gaines
v
ille, FL 32611-0690, USA
b
Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, Uni 
v
ersity of Florida, PO Box 110690, Gaines
v
ille, FL 32611-0690, USA
c
Escola Superior de Biotecnologia, Uni 
v
ersidade Catolica Portuguesa, Porto, Portugal 
d
Department of Process Engineering, Uni 
v
ersity College Cork, Cork, Ireland 
e
Escola Superior Agra´ ria de Santare´ m, Instituto Polite´ cnico de Santare´ m, Quinta do Galinheiro
 Á 
S. Pedro, 2001-904 Santare´ m, Portugal 
Department of Soils and Agrifood Engineering, Uni 
v
ersity La
v
al-FSAA, Quebec, Canada G1K 7P4
g
Departamento Horticultura et Sil 
v
icultura, Faculdade Agronomia, Uni 
v
ersidade Federal Rio Grande do Sul, 91501-970 Porto Alegre,RS, Brazil 
Recei
v
ed 10 January 2002; accepted 23 July 2002
Abstract
Optimal controlled and modified atmospheres (CA and MA) for fresh produce
v
ary according to the specie, itsmaturity or ripeness stage, the temperature, and the duration of exposure. Howe
v
er, indi
v
idual lots of produce aretypically handled for different times and at different temperatures during storage, transportation, and retail display. Inthis paper, we re
v
iew some of our pre
v
ious work showing the potential for using different atmospheres for mangoes(
Mangifera indica
L.) and strawberries (
Fragaria
)
/
ananassa
Duchesne) depending on the anticipated storage lengthand temperature. Since it would be desirable, especially for produce transported o
v
er extended distances, as in marinetransport, to maintain optimal atmosphere conditions throughout the posthar
v
est handling chain, we also describe ourprocedure for designing a combination CA/MAP system that in
v
ol
v
es first designing the MAP for a particularcommodity that will produce an optimal atmosphere for retail display conditions, then selecting a CA that will interactwith the MAP to produce the optimal atmosphere within the packages during transportation at a lower temperature.An example of the design procedure is gi
v
en from our work with fresh-cut kale (
Brassica oleracea
v
ar.
acephala
DC.).Another example of this proposed MAP/CA system deals with its application to mixed load transportation of strawberries and snap beans (
Phaseolus
v
ulgaris
L.).
#
2002 Else
v
ier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords:
Controlled atmosphere; Mango; Mixed load; Modified atmosphere; Package design; Snap bean; Strawberry; Temperature;Transportation
1
Corresponding author. Tel.:
'
/
1-352-392-1928; fax:
'
/
1-352-392-5653
E-mail address:
jkb@ifas.ufl.edu(J.K. Brecht).Posthar
v
est Biology and Technology 27 (2003) 87
 Á 
/
101www.else
v
ier.com/locate/posthar
v
bio0925-5214/02/$ - see front matter
#
2002 Else
v
ier Science B.V. All rights reserved.PII: S0925-5214(02)00185-0
 
1. Introduction
Traditionally, optimal conditions for CA andMA storage ha
v
e been selected based on theunderstandable goal of achie
v
ing maximum exten-sion of posthar
v
est life. This usually leads toselection of the least ad
v
anced maturity or ripenessstage that will pro
v
ide minimally acceptable tastequality and the most extreme O
2
and CO
2
le
v
elsthat the particular commodity is able to toleratewithout injury until its storage life is finally endeddue to deterioration of one quality parameter oranother. The prime example of the success of thisapproach is CA storage of apples [
Malus syl 
v
estris
(L.) Mill.] and pears (
Pyrus communis
L.). Appli-cation of CA and MA storage to many other fruitsand
v
egetables has not been nearly as successful,we feel primarily due to less clear economicincenti
v
es to extend their market seasons, butalso due, in many cases, to inherently shorterposthar
v
est life spans that result in comparati
v
elymodest potential lifespan extensions from CA andMA technology. Howe
v
er, the rise in recent yearsof international trade in horticultural productsand the consequent extension of transport timeshas challenged the ability of posthar
v
est handlersto deli
v
er high quality products. This, in turn, hascreated a new opportunity for application of CAand MA to products for which a 2- or 3-week-longtransit time may represent a
v
ery significantportion of their potential posthar
v
est life. Simi-larly, the rise in popularity of fresh-cut
v
egetablesand fruits has created a large number of extremelyperishable products for which e
v
en normal domes-tic distribution represents a considerable chal-lenge. Virtually all fresh-cut products are bynecessity handled in MAP to achie
v
e the necessaryposthar
v
est lifespan.Posthar
v
est fruits and
v
egetables are usuallyexposed to
v
arying surrounding temperaturesduring handling, transportation, storage and mar-keting. During marketing, the surrounding tem-perature is usually higher than during shipping orstorage. The changes in surrounding temperaturecreate a special problem in MAP design becausethe temperature dependence of the respiration rateis different from that of the permeabilities of MAPfilms (Cameron et al., 1993). Due to this fact, it isdifficult to maintain an optimum atmosphereinside a package when the surrounding tempera-ture is not constant. In order to maintain the samegas concentrations in
v
arying surrounding tem-perature conditions, the permeabilities of thepackaging film or perforation must change at thesame rate as the respiration rate o
v
er the tempera-ture range of interest (Talasila et al
.
, 1992, 1995).Packages are normally designed for specific con-stant surrounding temperatures. All calculationsof the internal atmosphere in sealed packagesassume constant permeabilities of the film orperforation and respiration rates of the produceat some constant temperature (Ben-Arie, 1990).Se
v
eral in
v
estigators ha
v
e studied the effects of temperature and gas concentrations on productrespiration and package O
2
and CO
2
le
v
els (Beau-dry et al., 1992;Talasila et al., 1992;Cameron et al., 1994;Joles et al., 1994). Because of the difference in the rates of change of permeabilityand respiration rate with temperature, a film thatproduces a fa
v
orable atmosphere at the optimalstorage temperature may cause excessi
v
e accumu-lation of CO
2
and/or depletion of O
2
at highertemperatures, a situation that could lead to meta-bolic disorders (Beaudry et al., 1992;Cameron et al., 1993;Exama et al
.
v
erse effect of tempera-ture fluctuations could be counter-balanced by asafety de
v
ice such as a temperature responsi
v
e
v
al
v
e or film that allows more O
2
to enter thepackage at high temperatures (Exama et al
.
, 1993).Recently, packages ha
v
e been made commerciallya
v
ailable that the manufacturer claims are able toautomatically adjust permeability in response totemperature changes by a phase change in thepolymer structure of a semipermeable coating on amicroporous patch (Clarke and DeMoor, 1997).To complicate things further, some shipperswould like to send mixed loads of se
v
eral cropsin one large container in order to maximize spaceusage and reduce transport cost. It is conceptuallypossible to design systems that include MAP insidea CA container such that the MAP is optimizedfor one set of conditions (usually higher tempera-ture warehouse or retail display conditions) andthe CA chosen so that, when used in combinationwith that MAP, an optimal within-package atmo-
J.K. Brecht et al. / Posthar
v
est Biology and Technology 27 (2003) 87 
 Á 
101
88
 
sphere will de
v
elop under a gi
v
en set of transportconditions. Such a CA en
v
ironment, when prop-erly designed, could correct for changes in respira-tion rates and package gas permeation ratescaused by changes in the surrounding temperatureat different steps in the posthar
v
est handlingsequence. Such a MAP/CA system can, withinlimits of temperature and other rele
v
ant compat-ibilities, allow mixed commodity loads to betransported with each commodity being sur-rounded by its own optimal atmosphere.
2. Literature review
 2.1. Control of the temperature during the posthar
v
est handling chain
The maintenance of a constant optimal tem-perature throughout the posthar
v
est handlingchain (i.e. from the grower to the retail display)is one of the most difficult tasks and is far frombeing uni
v
ersally attained. E
v
en when transport bytruck or sea can pro
v
ide satisfactory temperatureswithin the limits of acceptability, the transporttime may be too long for short-life products to betransported o
v
er long distances. On the otherhand, the speed of air transportation makes it atempting alternati
v
e for transporting highly per-ishable and
v
ery short-life commodities. Howe
v
er,we should bear in mind that air transport typicallyin
v
ol
v
es a significant break in the cold chain of perishables handling. The major causes for thisrupture are either the fluctuating or
v
ery high/lowtemperatures often encountered during flight andground operations. As an example, for strawber-ries shipped from California to Montreal by truck
v
s. plane, the most common temperature/timeprofiles inside a container, commonly encounteredduring posthar
v
est handling operations, are sum-marized inTable 1(Emond et al., 1996;Villeneu
v
eet al., 1999). Although the temperature throughoutthe trip by truck can be maintained within thelimits of acceptability, the length of the transportsignificantly reduces the marketability time con-sidering the relati
v
ely short shelf life of strawber-ries (5
 Á 
/
7 days). On the other hand, the transportby plane is
v
ery rapid but the temperature is ratherinconsistent and o
v
erall not adequate for straw-berries.In fact, the fluctuating temperatures oftenencountered during the handling chain can ha
v
ea
v
ery negati
v
e effect on the quality of horticul-tural crops (Nunes et al., 1999;Nunes et al., 2001). For example, when we stored ‘Opus’ snap beans attwo different temperature regimes (semi-constantand fluctuating) typically encountered duringground and in-flight handling operations, podsfrom the semi-constant temperature regime lostless weight, had better
v
isual ratings for color,firmness and shri
v
eling, and less incidence of browning and bruising than those stored influctuating temperatures (Nunes et al., 2001). Inaddition, snap beans from the fluctuating tem-perature were considered unmarketable beforeexposure to retail conditions. The semi-constanttemperature was equal to the a
v
erage of thefluctuating temperature regime, suggesting thatthe temperature fluctuation per se may ha
v
e hadnegati
v
e effects separate from that of highertemperature exposure alone. Results fromNuneset al. (2001)indicated that, e
v
en for short periodsof time, fluctuating and/or high temperaturesduring handling might result in rejection of thewhole load.Gi
v
en such facts, it is ob
v
ious that somethingneeds to be done in order to impro
v
e the condi-tions endured by horticultural products duringposthar
v
est handling in order to reduce losses andpro
v
ide consumers with products of the bestpossible quality and safety. For long distanceshipments by land, sea or e
v
en air, the establish-ment of suitable gas compositions (CA or MA)helps o
v
ercome some inherent deficiencies of thetransport technologies and of product posthar
v
estlife.
 2.2. Controlled atmosphere storage at non-optimumtemperature conditions
The best way to maintain the quality of freshfruits and
v
egetables is undoubtedly by maintain-ing an adequate temperature throughout the post-har
v
est handling chain. But as discussed abo
v
e, aconstant and optimum temperature is rarely eitherattained or maintained. Although the use of CA
J.K. Brecht et al. / Posthar
v
est Biology and Technology 27 (2003) 87 
 Á 
101
89

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