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Y. S.

HENIG
General

Foods
Dept.

Corp.,
of Food

Technical

Center,

Sc?ence, Rutgers

250 North
University,

St., White Plains, NY 10625


and S. G. GILBERT
New Brunswick,

NJ 08903

COMPUTER ANALYSIS OF THE VARIABLES


AFFECTING RESPIRATION AND QUALITY OF
PRODUCE PACKAGED IN POLYMERIC FILMS

INTRODUCTION
PACKAGING
of produce in polymeric films is a common
technique designed to prevent moisture loss, to protect against
mechanical damage, and to provide better appearance. Proper
selection of packaging films and optimizing package design can
favorably alter the gas composition around fruits and vegetables, resulting in an extended shelf life and improved quality.
A produce package is a dynamic system in which two main
processes, respiration and permeation, are occurring simultaneously. Shortly after hermetic packaging, the rate of produce respiration will be equal to the rate of O2 permeation
into the package and CO2 permeation out of the package, and
the concentration of these gases will be maintained at a constant level (Tomkins, 1962). The lower O2 level and the elevated CO* concentrat.ion that prevail during this steady state
period will lower the produce respiration rate and consequently extend the produce shelf life. Much of the previous work on
produce packaging has been related to the effect of gas composition on produce quality, with little attention to the dynamics
of the permeation-respiration interaction (Daun et al., 1973;
Hardenburg, 1971). Several workers (Jurin and Karel, 1963;
Karel and Go, 1964; Veeraju and Karel, 1966) have studied
the permeation-respiration interaction and devised a graphical
solution to predict the steady state internal atmosphere in
apple and banana packages.
Developed in the present investigation is a computer-aided
solution to the mathematical equations representing the
changes in respiratory gas concentrations within tomato packages. The computer solution is then validated by comparing it
to model packagesresults, and is further used to analyze the
different packaging system variables effect on internal package atmosphere. This technique enables the rapid prediction of
the 02 and COZ concentrations within produce packages - taking into account all the package variables - and also
provides a good tool for package design for any commodity
without requiring extensive experimentation or field trials.

MATERIALS

& MkTHODS

Packagingfilms and their permeability


Plasticizedpolyvinyl chloride films manufacturedby the Borden
ChemicalCo. (CodedVF-71 and RMF-61)were usedin all experiments.
Thesefilms containedan anti-foggingagentwhich eliminatedany water
condensationon the film surface.
The permeabilityof thesefilms to 0, and CO, wasmeasuredby the
Gilbert and Pegaz(1969) technique.0, and CO, concentrationswere
determinedusing AerographA90-P3and BeckmanCC-5gaschromatographs,respectively.
Tomato respiration rate measurements

Weighedamountsof tomatoes(typically 4 tomatoesweighingabout


400-5OOg,havinga diameterof approximately2.5 in.) wereplacedin
squarealuminum desiccators(4-3/4 in. x 4-3/4 in. x 4-3/4 in., havinga
free volume of 1280 cc), which served as the respiration chambers.

Each chamber was completely sealedby gluing aluminum foil to its


edges.At constant time intervals,0.3-ccsamplesweredrawn from each
chamber through a rubber cement sampling port and analyzed for CO,
and 0, concentration using the two gas chromatographs mentioned
previously. Five chambers were used to measure 0, consumption rate
and CO, evolution rate simultaneously, and 5 chambers were used to
measure 0, consumption rate under complete absorption of CO, (the
CO, was absorbed by a KOH solution placed in petri dishes at the
bottom of each chamber). The CO, and 0, concentrations were plotted versus time. These curves were divided into linear and curvilinear
portions. All points belonging to the curvilinear portion were plotted
on a semilogarithmic paper to give a straight line. Regression analysis
was carried out on both portions of the curve to determine their regession coefficients and intercept values. Having obtained these coefficients, 0, consumption rates and CO, evolution rates under different 0, and CO, concentrations were calculated.
Model packages of tomatoes

The respirationchambersdescribedaboveservedas the modelpackagesafter three wind6ws were opened in each of them, which were then
covered by the proper packaging film. A weighed amount of tomatoes
was placed in each package, which was then sealed from the top by the
proper packaging film and provided with a silicone rubber septum for
gas analysis. The film area of each model package was in the range

52.5-53 sq in.; the free volume of an empty model packagewas 1330


cc. Atmospheric samples (0.3 cc) were taken from the packages at

constanttime intervalsand analyzedfor 0, and CO, usinggaschromatography.


Mathematical model for the packaging system

In order to find the 0, and CO, concentrations within a produce


package at any time between the start of the experiment and the time

steady state conditions were achieved,two ordinary first-order differential equations representing the system were solved:

-=dVci
dt

g++-K1

x+xA

where: Voi = volume of 0, in the package (cc); Vci = volume of CO, in


the package (cc); V = total free volume in the package (cc); K, =
permeability of the film to 0, (cc/hr x in.*); A = area of the packaging
film (in.); K, = permeability of the film to CO, (cc/hr x in.); t =

time (min); f = a function representing0, consumptionrate; and g = a


function representing CO, evaluation rate.
The functions of f and g were determined from the respiration
measurements, and K, , K, from the permeability experiments. Eq. (1)

and (2) were solvednumericallyusingan IBM 360 computerat Rutgers


Computation Center. The computer print-out provided the 0, and CO,
concentrations at 1-hr time intervals until steady state conditions oc-

curred, at which point the analysiswasterminatedand the final 0, and

CO, concentrations were printed out.


RESULTS

& DISCUSSION

THE PERMEABILITY VALUES of RMF-61 and VF-71 films


to 02 and CO* at 23C are presented in Table 1. The rates of
Volume 40 (1975)-JOURNAL

OF FOOD SCIENCE-1033

.
1034-JOURNAL

OF FOOD SCIENCE-Volume

40 (1975)

02 consumption and COa evolution of field tomatoes (Jet


Star variety) at 23OC as a function of O2 and COa concentrations are given in Figure 1. The Oz consumption rate under
complete absorption of COz was constant (23.135 cc/kg hr) in
the range of 21-11.53% Oz; below 11.53% Os, a linear decrease in. 02 consumption rate took place to about 4% 02,
with a slope (for the linear portion of the curve) of 2.00 cc/kg
hr%Oa.
When CO2 was accumulating simultaneously with 0s reduction, the 02 consumption rate was significantly reduced,
but the reduction was surprisingly low. The 0s consumption
rate was constant (21.94 cc/kg hr) in the range 21-12.08%
OX, then decreased linearly with a slope of 1.815 cc/kg hr %
0s. This respiration pattern was observed to be typical of
different varieties of tomatoes, at different temperatures, and
at different stages of maturity. All tomatoes used in these
experiments were of approximately the same size to eliminate
any effect that tomato surface area might have on the respiration rate.
The evolution rate of COz was constant up to a CO* concentration of 9% in the respiration chamber (18.52 cc/kg hr),
above which a step-wise drop in COz evolution rate occurred
to a rate of 12.19 cc/kg hr. R.Q. values remained constant at
about 0.9 in the range O-9% COz then a drop to 0.6 was
observed, with a further increase after that to 1.4. When 0s
concentrations were less than 4% the R.Q. values rose to 1.5
and higher, indicating that a partial fermentation had begun.
The model packages were designed in order to get a well
defined packaging system in which package dimensions could
be measured accurately. This was essential in view of the fact
that the model packages results had to be compared with the
computer calculated values. The model packages consisted of
about 0.47 kg of tomatoes (4 tomatoes per package), an area
of 53 sq in., and a free volume of 843 cc. In RMF-61 model
packages, 02 concentration decreased to about 8% O2 concentration in 24 hr, then an equilibrium concentration of 0s was
attained at 6.9% for about 7 days (Fig. 2).
Simultaneously, CO? concentration increased to 4% in 12
hr, attained a short equilibrium at that level, and then decreased to a final level of 2% for 7 days. All the RMF-61
model package variables, including surface area, tomato
weight, free volume, film permeability and tomato respiration
rate under complete absorption of COz were fed to the computer program,which in turn read the change in 02 and CO2
concentrations with time until the attainment of equilibrium
conditions. The computer calculated results are presented in
Figure 2 as compared to the experimental readings of the
model package. There is very good agreement between the
experimental and computer calculated results.
In VF-71 tomato model packages, 02 concentration decreased to about 4% in 30 hr and then attained an equilibrium
concentration of 3.5% for 7 days (Fig. 3). CO2 concentration
increased to 10% in 16 hr, remained constant for a short period, and decreased to a final equilibrium concentration of 4%.
As in the previous example of the RMF-61 package, a good fit
between computed and experimental data is observed (Fig. 3).
After establishing the validity of the computer-aided solution, it was used to analyze the effect of each packaging system variable on the change in O2 and COa concentration with
time. A change in the film permeability to 0s from 2000 to
2600 cc/24 hr X 100 in.2 X atm would result in an elevated
steady state concentration of 02 (from 6.95% to 8.20%) for a
package having the same dimensions as the model package.
Also, a change in O2 permeability from 600 to 1300 would
increase the equilibrium level of O2 from 2.7 to about 5% for
the same package dimensions. A change in the CO2 film permeability from 4000 to 12000 would result in a decrease of
the CO2 steady state concentration from 3.46% to 2.54%. A
change in the weight/free volume ratio from 4451885 to

1000/300 (g/cc) for an RMF-6 1 model package would result in


a decrease of 0,. equilibrium concentration from 7.2% to 4%
02, as seen from Figure 4. For a package with constant dimensions, an increase in tomato weight would cause a decreasein

0,

Table l-Permeability
and CO, (at 23oC)
.

of RMF-61

0,

Permeabilit+b
cc

packaging

CO,

24 hr X 100 in.l

Filmc

and VF-71

X atm

a Mean
value
of at least
b Coefficient
of variance
c Thickness
of RMF-61.

to

Permeabilit+b
cc

24 hr X 100 in.* X atm

2100
698

RMF-61
VF-71

films

10811
3598

3 replicates
mess than
6%
0.7-0.8
mil;

of VF-71,

0.6-0.7

mil

LEGEND :

-R-x-!+
-

* 26..
=

CO2 ABSORBED
co2 m7xJMuLATED
cq
EvoumoN
RATE

= 8 24..
afi!
f

i
H
%t
5 3

16..

gg
0
00

,2 . .
8..

K.

20..

4..
I

//

IO

I2

14

16

16

M 21

O2 CC+KENTRATlC+,, PERCENT
CO2 CCfKENTRATlON , PERCENT

Fig. l-The
effect of 0, and CO,
ti& rate and CO, evolution
rate

P-I
0

12

I6

20

I1
24

concentrations

consump-

EXPERMENTAL (02 I

-Z--+-O

COMPUTER CALCULATION t02r

EXPERIMENTAL CC021

Q-Q-*

COMPUTER CALCULATION CO21

I1
26

on 0,

32

36

II

40

44

46

52

I
56

TIME, HR.

Fig.

2-A

comparison

between

computer

calculation

and

mental results of the atmosphere change in RMF-61 package

experi-

60

PRODUCE
21
20

EXRRIMENTAL

o--+--O

COMPUTER CALCULATION 102,

PACKAGED

IN POLYMERIC

FILMS-1035

(02)

EXPERIMENTAL (CO21

@---n---n

COMPUTER CUUUlloN

co2 1

2
Lt
z

LEGEND:
WIF m 445/065 gr/ce
W/F= 710/62O~/c~
W/F 10001300~/cc

-c-o-o-e-o-+
+i--XA+

14
12

7.17%
5.15%
3.93%

vn

I
8

II

12

16

20

88

24

Fig. 3-A
comparison
between
mental results of the atmosphere

26

32

TIME,

HR

36

40

44

46

52

computer
calculation
and
change in VF-71 package

56

experi-

Oa equilibrium concentration and an increase in CO2 equilibrium concentration. An increase in package free volume when
tomato weight was kept constant merely lengthened the time
in which the equilibrium conditions were attained. A change in
the RMF-61 packaging film area from 40 to 95 sq in. for a
commercial package would change the 0s equilibrium concentration from 5.42% to 9.5% (Fig. 5).
Lowering the temperature from 23OC to 1SC resulted in a
reduction of O2 consumption rate from 23 to 15.5 cc/kg hr, a
change in the deflection point from 11.5 to 11.7% 02, and a
change in the slope after deflection from 2.00 to 1.50 cc/kg hr
% 0s. This 33% reduction in respiration rate with a decreasein
temperature was expected, and agreed well with published
literature (Forward, 1960).
The data from model packages demonstrated that while the
changes in internal atmosphere composition had been slower
to occur at the low temperature, the final 0s and CO2 equilibrium concentrations were about the same at 15OC and 23OC
for both RMF-61 and VF-71 packages. This phenomenon suggests that temperature changes affect both respiration rate and
film permeability rate to the same degree. However, the combined effect of lower temperature, low O2 concentration, and
high CO2 concentration leads to a further reduction in the
respiration rate than the concentration effect itself.
CONCLUSIONS

IN SUMMARY, the two differential equations representing the


change in 0s and COs concentration with time in a model
package atmosphere were solved numerically using a computer. Data obtained by the theoretical solution were compared with model packages results with very good agreement.
The effect of the packaging system variables on the internal
atmosphere composition was then analyzed with the validated
computer program. The proposed methods and computer solution provide a rapid and accuratd way of predicting equilibrium concentrations of 02 and COa ; they also enable the development of a package for any commodity without requiring
extensive experimentation or field trials.

1
8

Fig. I-The

effect

in RMF-61

package.

I
I2

I
16

I
20

I
I
I'I
24
26
32
TIME, HR.

of weight/free

volume

ratio

LEGEND:
-.-.-+

on 0,

I
44

I
46

I
52

concentration

A R E A = 95 inch2
X X

-cZ-b-&

I
40

36

A R E A .75inch2
A R E A = 40inch2

8
32

a
36

5.42%

4-.
2
t
I
0

I
4

I
8

I
12

I
16

81
20

24

8
26

1
40

I
44

I
46

TIME, HR

Fig. 5-The

effect

of area on 0,

concentration

in RMF61

package.

REFERENCES
Daun, H., Gilbert,
S.G.. Asbkenazi,
Y. and Hen&, Y. 1973. Storage
quality of bananas packaged in selected permeability
films. J. Food
Sci. 38(7): 1247.
Forward,
D.F. 1960. Effect of temperature
on respiration.
Ency. Plant
Physiol. 12(2): 234.
Gilbert.
S.G. and Pegaz. D. 1969. Finding
a new way to measure gas
permeability.
Package Engr. 14(l):
66.
Hardenburg.
R.E. 1971. Effect of in-uackaee environment
on keeuine
_ quality of fruits and vegetables. Ho&c&e
6(3): 198.
Jwin,
V. and Karel. M. 1963. Studies on control
of respiration
of
McIntosh
apples by packaging methods.
Food Tecbnol. 17(6): 104.
Karel, M. and Go, 3. 1964. Control of respiratory
gases. Modern Pkg.
37(6): 123.
Tomkins.
R.G. 1962. The conditions
produced
in film packages by
fresh .fruits
and vegetables and the effect of these cdnditi&
on
storage life. J. Appl. Bact. 25(2): 290.
Veeraju, P. and Karel, M. 1966. Controlling
atmosphere
in a fresh-fruit
package. Modern Pkg. 39(12): 168.
M S received 3110175; revised 512175; accepted 5/6/75.