RAP PUBLICATION 2010/ 16

Processing of
fresh- cut tropica l fruits a nd vegeta bles:
A TECHNICAL GUIDE
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i
Authors
Jennylynd B. James
Tipvanna Ngarmsak
Technical Editor
Rosa S. Rolle
RAP PUBLICATION 2010/ 16
Processing of fresh-cut tropical fruits
and vegetables: A technical guide
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Bangkok, 2010
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The designat ions employed and t he present at ion of mat erial in t his informat ion product do
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Exchange, Research and Ext ension, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Rome, It aly.
© FAO 2011
ISBN 978-92-5-106712-3
For copies writ e t o: Rosa S. Rolle
FAO Regional Office for Asia and t he Pacific
Maliwan Mansion, 39 Phra At it Road
Bangkok 10200
THAILAND
Tel: (+66) 2 697 4194
Fax: (+66) 2 697 4445
E-mail: Rosa.Rolle@fao.org
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FOREWORD
Frui t and veget abl e product i on and consumpt i on i n Asi a and t he Paci f i c regi on have shown
a marked upward t rend over t he past several years. Rising consumer demand in t he region has
come wit h great er awareness of food safet y issues and increased need for convenience and qualit y.
The fresh-cut produce sect or has responded t o t hese demands, and is current ly at different st ages
of development across t he region.
Assuri ng t he safet y and qual i t y of f resh-cut produce necessi t at es t he sel ect i on of hi gh qual i t y
hort icult ural produce for processing, and t he implement at ion of good pract ice during processing
operat ions in order t o maint ain produce qualit y and assure safet y of t he final product .
This t echnical guide reviews in det ail from a t heoret ical and pract ical perspect ive, t he crit ical issues
t hat must be addressed i f f resh-cut product s are t o meet consumer and market demand for
convenience, qualit y and safet y. It provides a case st udy on fresh-cut processing in Thailand, and
describes in det ail, t he fresh-cut processing of select ed fruit s and veget ables produced in Thailand.
The gui de i s wri t t en i n a si mpl e, easy-t o-read format . It shoul d be of pract i cal val ue, t o smal l
processors, t rainers, ext ension workers and non-government al organizat ions (NGOs) who provide
t raining and support t o individuals engaged in t he product ion of fresh-cut t ropical produce for
sale. It is also provides a useful source of informat ion for consumers of fresh-cut t ropical produce.
FAO welcomes feedback from t he users of t his t echnical guide.
Hiroyuki Konuma
Assist ant Direct or-General and
FAO Regional Represent at ive for Asia and t he Pacific
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CONTENTS
Page
Foreword ........................................................................................................................................................ iii
List of plat es and figures ......................................................................................................................... viii
List of figures ................................................................................................................................................ ix
Abbreviat ions and acronyms ................................................................................................................. xi
Chapter I
FRESH-CUT PRODUCTS AND THEIR MARKET TRENDS
1. Fresh-cut product s........................................................................................................................ 1
2. Trends in t he Unit ed St at es’ fresh-cut market .................................................................... 2
3 Trends in t he European Union’s fresh-cut market ............................................................ 2
4. Fresh-cut t rends in Asian count ries ....................................................................................... 2
5. Prospect s for t ropical fresh-cut product s in developing count ries ........................... 4
6. Challenges for developing count ries .................................................................................... 5
7. Market ing of t ropical fresh-cut product s............................................................................. 6
Chapter II
TROPICAL HORTICULTURAL PRODUCE
1. Over view of t ropical fruit s ......................................................................................................... 7
2. Over view of t ropical veget ables ............................................................................................. 12
3. Over view of edible st ems .......................................................................................................... 13
Chapter III
FRESH PRODUCE QUALITY AND SAFETY
1. Fresh produce qualit y .................................................................................................................. 15
2. Component s of fresh produce qualit y .................................................................................. 15
3. Evaluat ion of qualit y .................................................................................................................... 17
4. Fact ors t hat impact on fresh produce qualit y ................................................................... 19
5. Maint aining t he qualit y of fresh produce bet ween harvest and processing ........ 21
Chapter IV
FRESH-CUT PROCESSING: PHYSIOLOGICAL
AND MICROBIOLOGICAL IMPACTS
1. Physiological effect s of fresh-cut processing ..................................................................... 26
2. Biochemical changes brought about by fresh-cut processing ................................... 26
3. Qualit y loss due t o microbial cont aminat ion ..................................................................... 27
4. Spoilage organisms associat ed wit h fresh-cut produce ................................................ 28
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Chapter V
STRATEGIES FOR MINIMIZING QUALITY LOSS AND ASSURING SAFETY
DURING FRESH-CUT PROCESSING
1. Minimizing mechanical damage and microbial cont aminat ion during cut t ing .. 31
2. Minimizing t ransfer of cont aminat ion during washing operat ions .......................... 31
3. Temperat ure management during processing operat ions........................................... 32
4. Post -cut t ing t reat ment s designed t o ext end t he shelf-life of fresh-cut product s 33
Chapter VI
PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF FRESH-CUT PROCESSING
1. The fresh-cut chain: harvest t o market ................................................................................. 37
2. Managing and measuring qualit y during fresh-cut operat ions.................................. 44
3. Managing and maint aining qualit y during market ing ................................................... 45
4. Assuring safet y in t he fresh-cut processing chain ........................................................... 46
5. HACCP for effect ive running of a fresh-cut plant ............................................................. 47
Chapter VII
EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR FRESH-CUT PROCESSING
1. Equipment for fresh-cut processing ...................................................................................... 49
2. Maint enance of equipment ...................................................................................................... 53
3. Equipment suppliers .................................................................................................................... 53
Chapter VIII
TRACEABILITY OF FRESH-CUT PRODUCTS
1. Traceabilit y in fresh-cut chains ................................................................................................ 55
2. Record keeping .............................................................................................................................. 55
3. Monit oring t raceabilit y ............................................................................................................... 57
4. Challenges for t he fresh-cut produce indust ry ................................................................. 58
Chapter IX
LAYOUT AND MAINTENANCE OF A FRESH-CUT PROCESSING FACILITY
1. The fresh-cut processing plant ................................................................................................ 59
2. Choosing t he sit e of a fresh-cut processing facilit y ......................................................... 59
3. Sanit at ion design of a processing facilit y for fresh-cut produce ................................ 60
4. Good Manufact uring Pract ices (GMPs) ................................................................................. 63
5. Cleaning pract ices for fresh-cut processing facilit ies ...................................................... 63
6. Pest cont rol for fresh-cut processing facilit ies ................................................................... 63
CONTENTS (cont inued)
Page
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Chapter X
EMERGING AND GROWING CONCERNS OF THE FRESH-CUT
PRODUCE INDUSTRY
1. Carbon foot print s of fresh-cut produce ............................................................................... 65
2. Wast e management in fresh-cut processing ...................................................................... 66
3. Fact or s t h at i n f l u en ce f u t u r e g r ow t h of t h e t r op i cal f r esh -cu t p r od u ce
indust ry ............................................................................................................................................. 67
Chapter XI
PROCESSING AND PACKAGING OF TROPICAL FRESH-CUT FRUITS
AND VEGETABLES IN THAILAND
1. Fresh-cut produce ......................................................................................................................... 69
2. Processing of fresh-cut fruit s .................................................................................................... 70
3. Processing of select ed fresh-cut fruit s for t he export market ..................................... 71
4. Processing of fresh-cut non-leafy veget ables .................................................................... 76
5. Processing of select ed non-leafy veget ables for export from Thailand .................. 76
6. Fresh-cut mi xed veget abl es: baby pak choi , sweet pepper, asparagus and
baby corn ......................................................................................................................................... 79
7. Packaging of fresh-cut produce .............................................................................................. 81
REFERENCES................................................................................................................................................ 84
CONTENTS (cont inued)
Page
viii
LIST OF PLATES
Plat e 1.1 Ready-t o-eat fresh-cut produce on display on a market st and .................... 3
Plat e 1.2 Ready-t o-eat papaya salad on sale in a supermarket in Viet Nam .............. 3
Plat e 1.3 Ready-t o-cook veget ables on sale in a Viet namese supermarket ............... 4
Plat e 1.4 A small vendor’s cart wit h fresh-cut produce in Bangkok .............................. 4
Plat e 1.5 Fruit snacks on skewers ............................................................................................... 6
Plat e 2.1 Carambola (Averrhoa carambola) ............................................................................. 7
Plat e 2.2 Guava (Psidium guajava) .............................................................................................. 8
Plat e 2.3 Jackfruit (Art ocarpus het erophyllus) ......................................................................... 8
Plat e 2.4 Mango (Mangifera indica L.) ....................................................................................... 9
Plat e 2.5 Mangost een (Garcinia mangost ana) ....................................................................... 9
Plat e 2.6 Papaya (Carica papaya L.) ............................................................................................ 10
Plat e 2.7 Pineapple (Ananas comosus) ...................................................................................... 10
Plat e 2.8 Pummelo (Cit rus maxima or cit rus grandis) ........................................................... 11
Plat e 2.9 Rambut an (Nephelium lappaceum) .......................................................................... 11
Plat e 2.10 Sugar apple – at is (Annona squamosa) .................................................................. 11
Plat e 2.11 Bit t er melon (Momordica charant ia) ........................................................................ 12
Plat e 2.12 Pak choi (Brassica chinensis) ....................................................................................... 12
Plat e 2.13 Chayot e (Sechium edule) .............................................................................................. 13
Plat e 2.14 Pumpkin (Cucurbit a maxima) ..................................................................................... 13
Plat e 2.15 Ginger (Zingiber officinale) .......................................................................................... 13
Plat e 2.16 Heart of palm (palmit o, pajibaye) ............................................................................. 14
Plat e 2.17 Sugar cane (genus Saccharum) .................................................................................. 14
Plat e 3.1 Removal of field heat from bulk veget ables ........................................................ 22
Plat e 6.1 In-field processing of fresh-cut veget ables .......................................................... 37
Plat e 6.2 Wat er f l ume f or washi ng and t ransp or t i ng f rui t i n a l arge p acki ng
house ................................................................................................................................... 39
Plat e 6.3 Cont inuous washing of pre-cut let t uce ................................................................. 40
Plat e 6.4 Workers preparing and sort ing cut fruit ............................................................... 41
Plat e 6.5 Workers in complet e food safet y at t ire ................................................................. 41
Plat e 6.6 Examples of packaging used for fresh-cut fruit s and veget ables ............... 43
Plat e 7.1 St andard kit chen equipment for t he small fresh-cut processor .................. 50
Plat e 7.2 Product bin dumper ...................................................................................................... 51
Plat e 7.3 Product cut t ing and slicing machine ..................................................................... 51
Plat e 7.4 Cont inuous product washing flume ....................................................................... 51
Plat e 7.5 Cent rifugal driers ............................................................................................................ 52
Plat e 7.6 Aut o scale wit h form-fill-seal packaging unit ...................................................... 52
Plat e 7.7 Met al det ect ors ............................................................................................................... 52
Plat e 11.1 Fresh-cut fruit s on display in a high-end Thai supermarket .......................... 69
Plat e 11.2 Fresh-cut product s sold in t he fresh market in Bangkok ................................ 70
CONTENTS (cont inued)
Page
ix
Plat e 11.3 Pummel o i n over wrapped foam t rays on sal e i n t he open market i n
Bangkok ............................................................................................................................. 82
Plat e 11.4 Pi neap p l e i n d i f f er ent p ackag i ng f or mat s on t he op en mar ket i n
Bangkok ............................................................................................................................. 82
Plat e 11.5 Bagged salads sold in higher-end supermarket s in Bangkok ....................... 83
Plat e 11.6 Salads market ed in a clam shell pack in high-end Thai supermarket s ..... 83
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 4.1 Typ i cal f resh-cut p rocess f l ow char t f or f rui t s, veget ab l es and root
crops .................................................................................................................................... 25
Figure 4.2 St eps in phenolic met abolism t hat result in browning ................................... 26
Figure 9.1 Basic design of a small fresh-cut produce processing plant ......................... 62
Figure 9.2 An examp l e o f p r o d u ct / p er so n n el f l o w p at t er n s i n a f r esh - cu t
processing ......................................................................................................................... 62
Figure 10.1 Food cont ribut ions t o CO
2
emissions in t he Unit ed Kingdom ..................... 66
Figure 11.1 St eps in t he product ion of fresh-cut fruit s in Thailand for different t arget
market s............................................................................................................................... 71
Figure 11.2 Process flow chart for t he product ion of fresh-cut papaya for export ...... 72
Figure 11.3 Pr ocess f l ow ch ar t f or t h e p r od uct i on of f r esh -cut p i n eap p l e f or
export .................................................................................................................................. 73
Figure 11.4 Pr o cess f l ow ch ar t f or t h e p r od u ct i on of f r esh -cu t p u mmel o f or
export .................................................................................................................................. 74
Figure 11.5 Process f l ow char t f or t he product i on of f resh-cut wat ermel ons f or
export .................................................................................................................................. 75
Figure 11.6 St eps i n t he product i on of f resh-cut f rui t s i n Thai l and f or di f f erent
t arget market s ................................................................................................................. 76
Figure 11.7 Pr ocess f l ow ch ar t f or t h e p r od uct i on of f r esh -cut asp ar ag us f or
export .................................................................................................................................. 77
Figure 11.8 Pr ocess f l ow char t f or t he p r od uct i on of f r esh-cut b ab y cor n f or
export .................................................................................................................................. 78
Figure 11.9 Process flow chart for t he product ion of fresh-cut pak choi for export ... 79
Figure 11.10 Process f l ow char t for t he product i on of f resh-cut sweet pepper for
export .................................................................................................................................. 80
Figure 11.11 Process flow chart for t he product ion of fresh-cut mixed veget ables for
export .................................................................................................................................. 81
CONTENTS (cont inued)
Page
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ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
AEW Acidic elect rolyzed wat er
CCP Crit ical cont rol point
CFU Colony-forming unit
DRI Diet ary reference int ake
FAO Food and Agricult ure Organizat ion of t he Unit ed Nat ions
FIFO First -in, First -out
GAP Good Agricult ural Pract ice
GC-MS Gas chromat ography-mass spect romet ry
GLN Global locat ion number
GMP Good Manufact uring Pract ice
GRAS Generally Recognized as Safe
HACCP Hazard Analysis and Crit ical Cont rol Point s
HPLC High per formance liquid chromat ography
IPS Immediat e previous source
ISR Immediat e subsequent recipient
LDPE Low densit y polyet hylene
MA Modified at mosphere
MAP Modified at mosphere packaging
NACMCF Nat ional Advisory Commit t ee on Microbiological Crit eria for Foods
NEW Neut ral elect rolyzed wat er
NIR Near infrared
OPP Orient ed polypropylene
ORP Oxidat ion-reduct ion pot ent ial
PAL Phenylalanine ammonia lyase
ppm Part s per million
PPO Polyphenoloxidase
PVC Polyvinylchloride
QA Qualit y assurance
RFID Radio Frequency Ident ificat ion Syst em
RH Relat ive humidit y
SPME Solid phase micro ext ract ion
TSS Tot al soluble solids
UCC Uniform Code Council
USEPA Unit ed St at es Environment al Prot ect ion Agency
USFDA Unit ed St at es Food and Drug Administ rat ion
WHO World Healt h Organizat ion
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1
Chapter I
FRESH-CUT PRODUCTS AND THEIR MARKET TRENDS
1. Fresh-cut product s
Fresh-cut products are fruits or vegetables that have been trimmed, peeled and/or cut into a fully
usable product, which is subsequently packaged to offer consumers high nutrition, convenience
and flavour while maintaining freshness (IFPA 2001).
The market for chilled fresh-cut produce has witnessed dramatic growth in recent years, stimulated
largely by consumer demand for fresh, healthy, convenient and additive-free foods which are safe
and nutritious. The food industry has responded to this demand with creative product
development, new production practices, innovative use of technology and skillful marketing
initiatives.
Fresh-cut tropical fruits on the market today include melons, cantaloupe, watermelon, mangoes,
mangosteen, rambutan, jackfruit, pummelo, papaya, durian, grapefruit, pineapples and fruit mixes.
Fresh-cut salads on the market include shredded leafy vegetables and salad mixes. Fresh-cut
vegetables for cooking include peeled baby carrots, baby corn, broccoli and cauliflower florets, cut
celery stalks, shredded cabbage, cut asparagus, stir-fry mixes and cut sweet potatoes. Fresh-cut
herbs are also marketed widely.
Growing consumer interest in international markets in new or exotic tastes has promulgated
growth in the international trade of fresh-cut products. Tropical fresh-cut fruits are particularly
attractive to young consumers and ‘baby boomers’ who consume these products as snacks.
Manufacturers in many tropical countries have responded to this growing demand by producing
fresh-cuts for export.
Consumers generally purchase fresh-cut produce for convenience, freshness, nutrition, safety and
the eating experience. Consumer demand for these attributes has, indeed, led to considerable
innovation and diversification in the fresh-cut industry. Apart from presenting the consumer with
a range of options in a single package, fresh-cuts reduce wastage at the household level, in that
they allow the consumer to procure only the quantities of fresh produce required, while allowing
the opportunity to readily assess the quality of the produce being purchased.
Whilst the production of fresh-cut produce requires relatively little product transformation, it
requires investment in technology, equipment, management systems and strict observance of food
safety principles and practices to ensure product quality.
2
2. Trends in t he Unit ed St ates’ fresh-cut market
Healthy foods are of critical importance to the baby boomer population in the United States’
market. With shifting population demographics, consumption of ethnic foods also continues to
show a growth trend. A range of tropical fruits and vegetables is imported into the United States
to ensure that the year-round demand for fresh produce is adequately met.
With increased dining away from home, fresh-cut products are playing an ever-increasing role in
the United States’ food service sector. In 2006, 27 percent of fresh-cut produce in the United States
was sold in the food service sector, while 73 percent was sold in retail. Fresh-cut produce sales
increased in value from US$3.3 billion in 1999 to US$15.5 billion in 2007 (Cook 2009). Bagged
salads and cut vegetables showed a growth trend in 2008, while sales in fresh-cut fruits declined.
Fresh-cut organic salads are now being mainstreamed across the United States and feeding
consumer desire for healthy food and preservation of the environment. They are now widely
available in restaurants and retail outlets.
A major trend in the United States’ fresh-cut industry over the past two decades has been the
consolidation of companies at all levels of the food chain. Food service and retail buyers have
formed conglomerates around the world and food processors have also consolidated to keep up
with this trend. Large processors are now supplying large retail chains, which creates tough
competition for small producers. Some regional companies have consolidated to form larger
companies in order to supply growing food service chains. Small locally-owned or family-owned
fresh-cut processing facilities can still fill a niche where flexibility in product type and small
quantities are needed for regional restaurants and grocery stores. Small processing facilities may
produce minor quantities of a range of fresh-cut products in one day to fill regional needs.
3. Trends in t he European Union’s fresh-cut market
The European fresh-cut industry has shown exponential growth since the early 1980s. According
to Rabobank (2009) consumer emphasis on convenience and healthy living is the key driver for
growth in the fresh-cut fruits and vegetables sector, with retail as the major distribution channel.
While the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Spain have already established a market and show
strong growth in the fresh-cut produce sector, Germany has yet to embrace the sector. Italy is
currently emerging as one of Europe’s leading fresh-cut markets, where sales of fresh-cut fruits and
vegetables have been booming in recent years and are now second only to the United Kingdom
in terms of value.
4. Fresh-cut t rends in Asian count ries
Fresh-cut produce is sold in open-air markets and food stands in many Asian countries and is
increasingly being sold in supermarkets. Fresh-cut fruits, in particular, have gained popularity in
urban centres of the region. Often these products are displayed without the benefits of
refrigeration so their shelf-life is frequently not extended beyond the day of display.
3
Fresh-cut vegetables command a larger market share than fresh-cut fruits in Thailand
(Sa-nguanpuag et al. 2007). With growing consumer demand for ready-to-eat products, the market
for fresh-cut products in Thailand is likely to show a continued growth trend.
The market for fresh-cut products in Japan and Republic of Korea has shown a steady growth
trend since the late 1980s and 1990s respectively (Kim 2007). While the food service industry for
school meals and restaurants is the main user of fresh-cut products in these countries, demand
for them has grown in retail markets. Fresh-cut vegetables for cooking constitute the largest part
of the fresh-cut produce industry in both countries. Fresh-cut salads are another major category
as consumers perceive them to be healthy. Fresh-cut fruits continue to show a rapid growth trend
in these countries. However, with increasing demand for fresh-cuts at the retail level, the fresh-cut
industry in Japan and Republic of Korea is facing challenges to extend shelf-life and enhance food
safety.
Plate 1.1 Ready-to-eat fresh-cut produce on display
on a market st and
Plate 1.2 Ready-t o-eat papaya salad on sale in a supermarket in Viet Nam
(Court esy of Vi et namese part i ci pant s t o an FAO/ KMUTT t rai ni ng programme
on Fresh-Cut Product i on, Bangkok, Thai l and 2010)
4
5. Prospect s for t ropical fresh-cut product s in developing count ries
The production of traditional dishes in most developing countries necessitates a variety of fresh
ingredients. The drudgery of peeling vegetables, shelling peas and trimming herbs and vegetables,
and then combining these ingredients, often deters the busy housewife from preparing these
traditional foods. Similarly the difficulty of peeling fruits such as pineapple, durian and pummelo
and sometimes their large size deters the consumer from purchasing them. Fresh-cut processing
addresses all of these issues by making products available in a convenient, easy-to-use format with
minimal waste. Packs of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables are increasingly being prepared by cottage
industry suppliers in many developing countries and are being sold in wet markets in response
to consumer demand for produce in a ready-to-use format.
Plate 1.3 Ready-t o-cook veget ables on sale in a Viet namese supermarket
(Court esy of part i ci pant s t o an FAO/ KMUTT t rai ni ng programme
on Fresh-Cut Product i on, Bangkok, Thai l and, 2010)
Plate 1.4 A small vendor’s cart wit h fresh-cut produce in Bangkok
(Court esy of Thai part i ci pant s t o an FAO/ KMUTT t rai ni ng programme
on Fresh-Cut Product i on, Bangkok, Thai l and, 2010)
5
Cottage industries and small vendors are still the major supplier of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables
in most developing countries. Food caterers often supply fresh-cut fruit packs for school feeding
programmes. Supermarkets in most developing countries produce fresh-cut fruits and non-leafy
fresh-cut vegetables on site to meet consumer demand. Bagged leafy vegetables are supplied
primarily by small enterprises engaged in fresh-cut production. Growth in the fast food sector and
in the food service industry of many developing countries has also increased market opportunities
for many small producers of fresh-cuts.
Developed countries are constantly looking for innovative products, providing potential for tropical
fresh-cut fruits and vegetables to fill a gap. Food products offering new colours, flavours and
textures, if creatively packaged, would be welcome additions to the fresh-cut industry in developed
countries.
Equally profitable would be the sale of fresh-cut tropical fruits and vegetables in the urban centres
of developing countries. The convenience of preparing traditional meals from locally-grown
ingredients would preserve culinary traditions, promote the consumption of local produce and
allow consumers to eat the foods they enjoy. As the fresh-cut fruit and vegetable industry has been
so profitable in developed countries, it is anticipated that the same level of growth would take
place in urban centres of developing countries enjoying income growth, whose citizens have less
time for meal preparation.
6. Challenges for developing count ries
Developing countries have experienced many demographic changes in the past two decades. With
population growth, urban centres are expanding on all continents. At the same time, traditional
food supply chains and food habits have been changing to keep up with these changing trends.
These social changes include:
Increases in single person households;
Increases in middle-income populations;
Less time for meal preparation;
Increased demand for convenience food items;
Increased sales of ready-to-eat meals; and
Increases in restaurant and fast food operations.
Growth in the market opportunities for fresh-cut produce will continue, only if consumers believe
that fresh-cut produce is safe and of high quality with sufficient shelf-life. Other challenges to the
marketing of tropical fresh-cut produce include:
Preserving product quality through the marketing chain;
The inherent fragile nature of some fruit;
Maintaining the cold chain and proper logistics;
Adequacy of processing equipment, refrigerated storage and processing facilities;
Availability of technology to set up processing plants and conduct research to preserve
the quality of tropical fresh-cut produce.
6
Tropical fresh-cut fruits and vegetables face significant challenges in entering export markets,
owing to:
Failure to meet permitted pesticide residue levels;
Allowable levels of microbial contamination;
Food safety standards and audit standards;
Food laws of the importing country;
Quality standards of the buyer (private standards); and
Compliance with international regulations such as the Codex Alimentarius of the World
Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (FAO).
Compliance with these regulatory requirements is necessary in order to develop a viable export
industry for fresh-cut tropical produce from developing countries. Certification programmes that
guarantee the quality and safety of fresh-cut produce are critical to their entry in export markets.
7. Market ing of t ropical fresh-cut product s
As many tropical fruits and vegetables are less well known in developed countries, a systematic
approach is needed to promote them as ‘novel’ products that must taste and look appealing to
the consumer in developed countries.
Factors that influence the marketing success of novel tropical fresh-cut products include:
Meeting customer needs for quality and taste;
Meeting customer expectations for price;
Product presentation and consumer appeal;
Ability to respond to current social food values – organic, fair trade, health options; and
Satisfying the labeling requirements in the country of sale.
There is a need to provide as much information as possible about the supplier of the raw material
in order to promote sales in those sectors of society wanting to make a difference in developing
countries.
Plate 1.5 Fruit snacks on skewers
(court esy of Thai part i ci pant s t o an FAO/ KMUTT t rai ni ng programme
on Fresh-Cut Product i on, Bangkok, Thai l and, 2010)
7
Chapter II
TROPICAL HORTICULTURAL PRODUCE
1. Overview of t ropical fruit s
Tropical fruits come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with a range of specific flavours and textures.
They are typically consumed when in season in tropical countries. Consumers often prefer
sun-ripened fruits, with fully developed flavours.
Mangoes, papayas, pineapples, lychees, bananas and various varieties of melons have been
exported by developing countries for decades. Developing countries account for 98 percent of
tropical fruit production. Mangoes account for 38 percent of tropical fruit output globally, papayas
account for 14 percent and avocadoes account for 4 percent. Pineapples remain popular at about
21 percent of the output. The so-called minor tropical fruits now account for almost 25 percent
of global output and include lychees, durian, rambutan, guava and passion fruit (granadilla).
According to FAO’s Tropi cal frui t s commodi t y not es, while the dramatic increase in production of
tropical fruits is now levelling off, the growth trend in the export of these fruits continues. The
growing diaspora of foreign nationals in many developed countries has fuelled growth in tropical
fruit consumption in these countries. For example the fruit import centre in Birmingham, United
Kingdom, has been almost solely driven and managed by immigrant traders. A growing
population, interest in things exotic and a trend towards healthier eating, has increased the
demand for tropical fruits and vegetables across many European countries. Many popular tropical
fruits require peeling and preparation for eating. They are attractive to the busy consumer if
presented in a convenient package in a ready-to-eat format.
Carambola (Averrhoa carambol a) (Plate 2.1) or five-finger star fruit, is a species of tree native to
India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. It is popular throughout the Caribbean, parts of East Asia, Southeast
Asia (for example Malaysia) and in many other tropical countries. Popularly known as star fruit,
carambola is crunchy, and has a slightly tart, acidic, sweet taste, reminiscent of pears and apples.
Plate 2.1 Carambola (Averrhoa carambola)
(Nut t aki t / freedi gi t al phot os.net )
8
Guava (Plate 2.2) derived from the Arawak ‘guayabo’ via the Spanish ‘guayaba’ is a genus of about
100 species of tropical shrubs and small trees in the Myrtaceae family of myrtles; it is native to
Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and northern South America. It has a thin delicate rind
which is pale green to yellow in colour at maturity in some species or pink to red in others. It has
a creamy white or orange-salmon flesh with many small hard seeds. Guava has a strong,
characteristic aroma.
Jackfruit (Plate 2.3) is a species of the mulberry family (Moraceae) and native to Bangladesh,
southwestern India, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. It is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. The
fruits can reach 36 kilograms in weight and up to 90 centimetres in length and 50 centimetres in
diameter. The sweet yellow sheaths around the seeds are about 3-5 millimetres thick and have
a taste similar to that of the pineapple but are somewhat milder and less juicy.
Plate 2.2 Guava (Psidium guajava)
(Mast er i sol at ed i mages/ freedi gi t al phot os.net )
Plate 2.3 Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)
(ht t p:/ / en.wi ki pedi a.org/ wi ki / jackfrui t )
Mangoes (Plate 2.4) are native to South and Southeast Asia and account for almost 50 percent
of all tropical fruits produced worldwide. Mango production in 2004 was estimated at 26.6 million
tonnes and ranked seventh in world fruit production behind bananas, grapes, oranges, apples,
coconuts and plantains. The top ten mango-producing countries in 2007, based on area of
production, were China, Brazil, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines
and Thailand. The top five mango-exporting countries were Brazil, India, Mexico, Peru and the
Philippines. Bangladesh, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United
States were the top five mango-importing countries.
9
Mangoes contain essential vitamins and dietary minerals. The antioxidant vitamins A, C and E
comprise 25, 76 and 9 percent of the dietary reference intake (DRI) in a 165-gram serving of
mango. Mangoes also contain other nutrients such as B vitamins and essential nutrients such as
potassium, copper and amino acids at reasonably good levels. Mango peel and pulp contain other
phytonutrients, such as pigment antioxidants – carotenoids and polyphenols – and omega-3
and -6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Mangost een (Garcinia mangost ana) (Plate 2.5) is a tropical fruit, believed to have originated in the
Sunda Islands and the Moluccas. This fruit is either dark red or purple in colour. Its thick skin houses
a sweet white pulp when fully ripe. Botanically an aril, the fragrant edible flesh of the mangosteen
can be described as having a sweet and tangy, citrus-like flavour and texture. A subtle mild aroma,
with fewer constituents than other fragrant fruits, explains this relative mildness.
Plate 2.4 Mango (Mangifera indica L.)
(Court esy of V. Chonhenchob, Kaset sart Uni versi t y)
Plate 2.5 Mangost een (Garcinia mangostana)
(ht t p:/ / en.wi ki pedi a.org/ wi ki / mangost een)
Papaya (Plate 2.6), fruit of the plant of the genus Carica, is the most economically important fruit
of the Caricaceae family. Native to southern Mexico and neighbouring Central America, the papaya
is now widely cultivated in tropical countries such as Brazil, Haiti, India, South Africa and Sri Lanka
as well as in the Philippines and elsewhere in the Southeast Asian region. According to FAOSTAT,
Brazil was by far the largest producer of papaya globally in 2007, followed by India, Indonesia,
Mexico and Nigeria.
The ripe papaya fruit, with its delicate flavour, is a tasty addition to fresh-cut fruit salads or served
on its own as a chilled dessert. The ripe fruit is generally eaten in the fresh form, without the peel
or seeds. The unripe ‘green’ fruit of papaya can be eaten in the cooked form in curries and stews,
or as a salad. It is also rich in pectin, which makes it suitable for use in the production of fruit jellies.
10
Papaya fruit are very delicate and soften when ripe. The leaves are the source of the meat-
tenderizing enzyme, papain which can be used in marinades for tenderizing tough meat cuts.
Pineapple fruit (Plate 2.7) are found in most tropical and subtropical countries. The pineapple has
its origins in Southern Brazil and Paraguay. Popular pineapple varieties such as Smooth Cayenne,
Formosa, Red Spanish and Carbezona have been commercialized for decades. According to
FAOSTAT, Brazil, Costa Rica, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand were the five leading producers
of pineapples globally in 2005.
Plate 2.6 Papaya (Carica papaya L.)
(Court esy of A. Vi l l ahermosa)
Plate 2.7 Pineapple (Ananas comosus)
(ht t p:/ / www.wi ki pedi a.org/ wi ki / i mage:pi neappl e1.jpg)
Pineapples are the only bromel i ad fruit in widespread cultivation. The pineapple has multiple,
helically-arranged flowers, each producing a fleshy fruit pressed against the adjacent fruits, forming
what appears to be a single fleshy fruit. Pineapple is eaten in the fresh form or is preserved by
canning and/or juicing. It is used in desserts, salads, as a complement to meat dishes and in fruit
cocktails. Although it is sweet, it also has a high fruit acid content.
The low-acid hybrid, Cayenne is the most common fresh pineapple variety sold in the United States
and in European supermarkets. This variety was developed in Hawaii in the 1970s. Fresh pineapple
is delicate and thus poses a challenge during shipment. Pineapples will ripen after harvest, but like
bananas are chilling-sensitive and are not readily stored under refrigerated conditions.
11
The pummelo (Plate 2.8) is a citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia. It is usually pale green to yellow
when ripe, with sweet white (or, more rarely, pink or red) flesh and very thick rind. It is the largest
citrus fruit, 15-25 cm in diameter, and usually weighing 1-2 kg.
Plate 2.8 Pummelo (Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis)
(Court esy of V. Chonhenchob, Kaset sart Uni versi t y)
Rambut an (Plate 2.9) is a medium-sized tropical tree of the family Sapi ndaceae. The fruit of this
tree is probably native to Southeast Asia and is closely related to the lychee. The leathery skin of
this fruit is reddish (rarely orange or yellow) in colour and is covered with fleshy green pliable
spines. The fruit flesh is translucent, whitish or very pale pink, with a sweet, mildly acidic flavour.
The single seed is glossy brown, 2-3 centimetres long, with a white basal scar. The seed is soft and
crunchy, is edible and may be, but is not usually eaten with the pulp.
Plate 2.9 Rambut an (Nephelium lappaceum)
(Rawi ch/ freedi gi t al phot os.net )
Sugar apple (Plate 2.10) or atis is thought to have its origins in the Caribbean. Sugar apple is also
referred to as sweet sop. The fruit has a scaly skin, is almost round and about 10 centimetres in
width. The flesh of the ripe fruit is slightly sweet and is soft in texture. Many black pips are
scattered through the flesh of the fruit.
Plate 2.10 Sugar apple – at is (Annona squamosa)
(ht t p:/ / en.wi ki pedi a.org/ wi ki / sugar-appl e)
12
2. Overview of t ropical veget ables
Vegetables generally require a great deal of preparation prior to their inclusion as ingredients in
recipes for soups, stews and ethnic dishes in some countries.
Bit t er melon (Plate 2.11) is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, also
referred to as corolla or cerassie. It is among the most bitter of all vegetables. Throughout Asia, the
leaves and fruit of this plant are used in soups, stir fries and teas. The original home of the species
is not known, other than that it is a native of the tropics. It is widely grown in Africa, China, the
Caribbean and South and Southeast Asia.
Plate 2.11 Bit t er melon (Momordica charantia)
(ht t p:/ / wi ki pedi a.org/ wi ki / Bi t t ermel on)
Pak choi (Plate 2.12) or Chinese cabbage, also known as snow cabbage, is a leafy vegetable often
used in Asian cuisine. This vegetable is related to the western cabbage and is of the same species
as the common turnip. It is one of the most well-known vegetables and is also one of the oldest
green vegetables in Asia. The leaves are green, mild flavoured and less crisp than other cabbages.
It is often used in stews and soups.
Plate 2.12 Pak choi (Brassica chinensis)
(ht t p:/ / en.wi ki pedi a.org/ wi ki / chi nese_cabbage)
Chayot e (Plate 2.13) whose common names include Cho-cho, or Chouchou, is a yellow-green or
white, pear-shaped vegetable. It has a wrinkled scabby skin, with greenish-white flesh. The chayote
is believed to have its origins in Central America. More common varieties of this vegetable
are pear- or apple-shaped, and are somewhat flattened with coarse wrinkles, ranging from 10 to
20 centimetres in length. The flesh is fairly bland in taste, and has a texture described as being
a cross between that of a potato and a cucumber.
13
Pumpkin (Plate 2.14) (Cucurbi t a maxi ma) or squash is a vegetable that is cultivated throughout
Southeast Asia; it can be cooked with or without the skin. The colour of the skin can vary from
green to yellow. The flesh is deep yellow to orange in colour. Pumpkins are soft in texture and are
sweet. They are rich in vitamin A and are consumed as side dishes or as ingredients in bakery
products.
Plate 2.13 Chayote (Sechium edule)
(ht t p:/ / en.wi ki pedi a.org/ wi ki / chayot e)
Plate 2.14 Pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima)
(Court esy of E. Esguerra, UPLB)
3. Overview of edible stems
Ginger (Zi ngi ber offi ci nal e) (Plate 2.15) is a monocotyledonous perennial plant. The term ginger is
also used to describe the edible part of the plant which is commonly used as a spice in cooking
throughout the world. Erroneously referred to as ‘ginger root’, the edible section is actually the
horizontal subterranean stem or rhizome of the plant. The ginger plant has a long history of
cultivation known to have originated in China; it later spread to India, the Caribbean, Southeast
Asia and West Africa.
Plate 2.15 Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
(ht t p:/ / en.wi ki pedi a.org/ wi ki / gi nger )
14
In 2005, China continued to lead the world in ginger production with a global share of almost
25 percent followed by India, Indonesia and Nepal.
Heart of palm (pal mi t o, paji baye) (Plate 2.16) also referred to as palm heart, palmito, chonta, or
swamp cabbage, is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm
trees (coconut, palmito, juçara [Eut erpe edulis], açaí palm [Eut erpe oleracea] et c.). It is costly because
harvesting in the wild kills the tree. Heart of palm is often eaten in salads. It is sometimes referred
to as the ‘millionaire’s salad’ and is also used in vegetarian spreads.
Plate 2.16 Heart of palm (palmito, pajibaye)
(ht t p:/ / en.wi ki pedi a.org/ wi ki / heart _of_pal m)
Plate 2.17 Sugar cane (genus Saccharum)
(ht t p:/ / commons.wi ki medi a.org/ wi ki / Image:Cut _sugarcane.jpg)
When harvesting the cultivated young palm, the tree is cut and the bark is removed leaving layers
of white fibres around the centre core. During processing the fibres are removed leaving the centre
core or heart of palm. The centre core is attached to a slightly more fibrous cylindrical base with
a larger diameter. The entire cylindrical centre core and the attached base are edible. The centre
core is considered more of a delicacy because of its lower fibre content.
Sugar cane (Plate 2.17) is a genus (Saccharum) of up to 37 species, depending on the taxonomy,
of tall perennial grasses (family Poaceae, tribe Andropogoneae) that are native to warm temperate
to tropical regions. They have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar and measure
2 to 6 metres in height. The edible portion of sugar cane is the inner stalk (stem) the sap of which
is a source of sugar. The thick stalk stores energy as sucrose in the sap. The sap can be extracted
by pressing the sugar cane stalk.
From this juice, crystallized sugar is extracted by evaporating the water. As of 2005, the world’s
largest producer of sugar cane by far was Brazil. Uses of sugar cane include the production of
crystal and liquid sugar, molasses, rum and ethanol for fuel.
15
CHAPTER III
FRESH PRODUCE QUALITY AND SAFETY
1. Fresh produce qualit y
Qualit y is a combinat ion of charact erist ics t hat det ermines t he value of produce t o t he consumer.
Consumers expect f resh produce t o be wi t hout def ect s, of opt i mum mat ur i t y and i n f resh
condit ion. The condit ion of fresh fruit s and veget ables relat es t o t heir general appearance, sensory
qualit y, flavour and nut rit ional qualit y (Wat ada and Qi 2000; Kader 2002). Consumers j udge t he
qualit y of fresh fruit s and veget ables based on t heir appearance and firmness (ext ernal at t ribut es).
Subsequent purchases by consumers are, however, dependent on t heir eat ing experience (aroma,
t ast e, t ext ure int rinsic or experience at t ribut es). Ot her qualit y paramet ers like nut rit ional qualit y
and safet y (hi dden at t ri but es) i ncreasi ngl y i nf l uence consumer deci si ons on maki ng repeat ed
purchases of t he commodi t y. Onl y f rui t s of t he hi ghest qual i t y shoul d be used f or f resh-cut
processing.
2. Components of fresh produce quality
Qualit y at t ribut es are of t en classified as ext ernal, int ernal or hidden. Ext ernal qualit y at t ribut es are
visual when t he product is first encount ered. These at t ribut es are generally relat ed t o ‘appearance’
and ‘feel ’. Int ernal qual i t y charact eri st i cs are sensed when t he product i s cut or bi t t en. Int ernal
at t ribut es include aroma, t ast e and feel (for example, ‘mout h-feel’ and ‘t oughness’). Hidden qualit y
at t ribut es include wholesomeness, nut rit ional value and safet y of t he product .
Appearance quality
The visual qualit y of fruit s and veget ables relat es t o t heir size, shape, colour, glossiness, cleanliness
of t he surface and absence of defect s or signs of spoilage. Fresh produce defect s include evidence
of : bruising and crushing of pieces, shrivelling and wilt ing due t o wat er loss, mushiness or t issue
sof t ening, colour changes due t o enzymat ic browning or physical disorders, sliminess and wat er
soaking due t o ageing. Spoilage also induces changes in appearance, such as mushiness owing
t o mould growt h and package swelling due t o t he release of gases by bact eria or unat t ract ive
colour changes (Kader 2002).
Texture qualit y
Text ure (f eel ) rel at es t o t he f eel of t he produce i t em i n t he hands or i n t he mout h. Text ural
at t r i but es can be descr i b ed i n t he cont ext of f i rmness or hardness, crunchi ness, cri spness,
16
t enderness, juiciness, mealiness and t oughness, depending on t he commodit y. The t ext ural qualit y
of hort icult ural produce is not only import ant for it s eat ing and cooking qualit y, but also for it s
t ransport abilit y t hrough t he hort icult ural chain.
Flavour qualit y
Flavour (eat ing) relat es t o t he t ast e and smell (aroma) of t he produce. Flavour at t ribut es can be
described as t he percept ion of t ast es and aromas coming from many sources including sugars for
sweet ness, t he acidit y of organic acids such as cit ric acid in oranges and lemons, t he bit t erness and
ast ringency of phenolic compounds and t annins, and aromas from volat ile compounds. Most fruit s
and veget ables have sweet , sour and bit t er t ast es but lit t le or no salt y and umami
1
t ast es.
Good flavour is an import ant guarant ee for repeat purchasing of fruit s by consumers. Consumers
are generally willing t o pay more for desirable flavour (Ragaert et al . 2004). Growt h of spoilage
mi croorgani sms can l ead t o of f -odour or f l avour devel opment , as occurs when f resh produce
begins t o ferment (Kader and Mit cham 1999).
Eating quality
The eat ing qualit y of fresh produce result s from complex int eract ions bet ween t ext ure and flavour
and effect s on t he nut rit ional value (Kader 2002).
Nutritional quality
Fruit s and veget ables are well-known sources of useful nut rient s in t he form of vit amins, minerals,
diet ary fibre and ot her phyt onut rient s including flavonoids, carot enoids and phenolic compounds
t hat may lower t he risk of cancer, heart disease and ot hers illnesses (Kader 2002). Consumpt ion
of fresh fruit s and veget ables is encouraged and a recommendat ion of at least five servings per
day has been made t o American consumers.
Safet y
Safe food is free of physical and chemical hazards or microorganisms t hat cause adverse effect s
t o human healt h and life. Safet y is a component of qualit y. Many expert s are of t he view t hat safet y
is t he most import ant component of qualit y, since unsafe food can result in serious injury and even
deat h. Business loss and a poor image as a result of legal act ion are also serious consequences of
consuming unsafe food.
The safet y of f resh produce can be compromi sed by physi cal hazards such as gl ass, dust and
i nsect s or chemi cal hazards such as pest i ci des or mi crobi ol ogi cal hazards resul t i ng f rom poor
sanit at ion or bad hygienic pract ice in t he producer t o consumer chain.
Bi ol ogi cal hazards refer t o pat hogenic microorganisms t hat cause human illnesses direct ly when
consumed t oget her wit h t he produce (infect ion) or by producing t oxins or chemical subst ances
harmful t o humans in t he produce before it is consumed. In some cases, t he microbial populat ion
may be i nsuf f i ci ent t o cause produce decay but may be enough t o cause human i nfect i on or
1
Similar t o, but not t he same as savoury.
17
int oxicat ion aft er t he produce has been consumed. Thus, produce t hat is perfect in appearance is
not guarant eed t o be mi crobi ol ogi cal l y safe. Pat hogeni c mi croorgani sms can cont ami nat e t he
produce t hrough t he soi l , cont ami nat ed wat er, badl y t reat ed manure, sewage, ai r, poor worker
hygiene or cont aminat ed sur faces of post -harvest facilit ies such as produce packages, t ransport
and st orage facilit ies.
Chemi cal hazards i ncl ude nat ural subst ances (e.g. al l ergens, mycot oxi ns, al kal oi ds and enzyme
inhibit ors), chemical product s (e.g. pest icides, wat er disinfect ant s), prohibit ed subst ances (e.g. some
pest icides, met hyl bromide) and t oxic element s (e.g. lead, cadmium, arsenic, zinc). Their adverse
ef f ect s on human heal t h are general l y l ess dramat i c and i mmedi at e t han t hose caused by
pat hogenic microorganisms. However, t here is growing concern for t heir possible long-t erm effect s
on human healt h, direct and indirect effect s on t he environment , flora and fauna, and effect s on
t he heal t h of rural workers. Chemi cal hazards can be i nt roduced t o fresh frui t s and veget abl es
during product ion (e.g. phyt osanit ary product s, fert ilizers, ant ibiot ics, growt h regulat ors, et c.) and
post -harvest handling (e.g. phyt osanit ary product s, waxes, det ergent s, et c.).
Physi cal hazards include st ones, glass part icles, wood, hair, plast ic, j ewelry and met als which may
be unint ent ionally int roduced t o t he produce during product ion and post -harvest operat ions.
3. Evaluation of qualit y
Qualit y evaluat ion met hods can be bot h dest ruct ive and non-dest ruct ive. They include obj ect ive
met hods, based on t he use of inst rument s and subj ect ive met hods, based on human j udgement .
Inst rument s may be desi gned t o i mi t at e human-t est i ng met hods. Fundament al mechani cal
measurement s may be st at i st i cal l y rel at ed t o human percept i ons and j udgement s t o predi ct
q ual i t y cat eg or i es. Qual i t y can onl y b e j ud g ed b y consumer s. Inst r ument s t hat measur e
qualit y-relat ed at t ribut es are vit al for research and inspect ion.
An addit ional dimension of qualit y which has evolved in int ernat ional market s, relat es t o credence
at t ri but es, i .e. at t ri but es t hat depend on t he met hod of product i on, regardl ess of whet her t he
met hod of product ion has a visible or analysable impact on t he produce. Examples of credence
at t ribut es desired by consumers include sust ainable environment al profiles or fair t rade condit ions.
Obj ect i ve measurement s of qual i t y empl oy t he use of i nst rument s (e.g. col ori met er for col our,
f i rmness t est er f or t ext ure) and are sui t abl e f or rout i ne qual i t y cont rol but cannot measure
consumer preferences. The only way t o assess consumer preferences for fruit s and veget ables is
by sensory t est ing and asking panellist s t o provide t heir opinions/ assessment on t he fresh produce
i t em. Sensory eval uat i on i s not , however, sui t abl e for rout i ne use and t he best way of assuri ng
qualit y is t o find obj ect ive measurement s t hat correlat e t o sensory at t ribut es.
Evaluation of appearance and colour
Col our p ercep t i on d ep end s on t he t yp e and i nt ensi t y of l i ght , t he chemi cal and p hysi cal
charact er i st i cs of produce and t he abi l i t y of an i ndi vi dual t o percei ve t he col our. Col our i s
measured using subj ect ive and obj ect ive met hods.
18
Subj ect ive met hods of colour measurement rely on t he human eye. A colour index is formulat ed
and is mat ched wit h a colour chart t hat corresponds t o t he development al st ages of a specific
produce i t em. Col our i ndexi ng and col our chart mat chi ng are, however, prone t o human error
because of differences in colour percept ion. Trained panelist s may be required t o reduce t he bias.
The l i ght exp osure and qual i t y of l i ght at t he t i me of measurement may al so af f ect col our
percept ion.
A colorimeter is used for t he obj ect ive measurement of colour and can det ect small differences
in colour. Obt aining colorimet ric measurement s is however cost ly and more t ime consuming t han
using colour indices.
Evaluation of taste and flavour
Sugar i s t he mai n comp onent of t ot al sol ub l e sol i ds ( TSS) i n most f r ui t s and veget ab l es.
Measurement of TSS, t herefore, provides a reasonable indicat or of sugar levels or sweet ness. TSS
is measured using eit her a refract omet er or a hydromet er. The former operat es on t he basis of t he
refract ion of light by j uice samples and t he lat t er on t he basis of t he densit y of t he j uice. Bot h
met hods are ‘dest ruct ive’, only needing a few drops of sample j uice for measurement .
Acidit y i s general l y measured by t i t rat i on wi t h a sui t abl e al kal i ne sol ut i on such as sodi um
hydroxide or by measuring t he pH using a pH met er. Cert ain acids can be individually measured
by high performance liquid chromat ography (HPLC). Light reflect ance in near infrared (NIR) has
been applied as a non-dest ruct ive met hod for measuring sugar levels in mangoes, melons and kiwi
fruit .
Sensor y st udi es can be used t o i dent i f y opt i mal har vest mat uri t y, eval uat e f l avour qual i t y i n
breedi ng programmes, det ermi ne opt i mal st orage and handl i ng condi t i ons, assess ef f ect s of
disinfest at ions or precondit ioning t echniques on flavour qualit y and measure flavour qualit y over
t he post -har vest l i fe of a product . Sensor y di f ference t est i ng can be used t o measure sl i ght
differences in t he aromas of produce. Panelist s are t rained t o det ect a range of flavour at t ribut es
and score t heir int ensit ies, generally on a 150-millimet re unst ruct ured line.
Laborat ory measurement s are conduct ed by headspace analysis using gas chromat ography and
purge and t rap headspace sampl i ng met hods t hat i nvol ve t rappi ng and concent rat i ng vol at i l e
component s on a solid support . Volat iles are lat er released from t he t rap using heat for analysis
by gas chromat ography-mass spect romet ry (GC-MS). This met hod is excellent for quant ificat ion
and ident ificat ion of aroma compounds.
Solid phase micro ext ract ion (SPME), a rapid sampling t echnique wherein volat iles int eract wit h
a fibre-coat ed probe insert ed int o sample headspace is also applicable in sensory assessment . The
probe is t ransferred t o a GC inj ect ion port where t he volat iles are desorbed. Aside from GC and
GC-MS met hods, new sensors wit h a broad range of select ivit y are used in headspace analysis.
These sensor arrays, referred t o as ‘elect ronic noses’, are useful in discriminat ing react ions of volat ile
component s.
19
Evaluation of texture
According t o Meilgaard et al. (1999), t ext ure is a consequence of four maj or propert ies:
Sur face propert ies: sur face moist ness or wet ness;
First bit e propert ies: springiness, hardness, denseness, crispness, j uiciness and uniformit y
of bit e;
Chew down propert ies: chewiness and cohesiveness; and
Af t er swollen propert ies: mout h coat ing, t oughness.
Text ure is generally det ermined on t he basis of measurement s of force applied t o a food sample.
The f i rmness of f resh-cut p roduce i s, i n many i nst ances, a f ai rl y good i ndi cat or of t ext ural
proper t i es. The most common met hod of t ext ure measurement i s t he punct ure t est whi ch i s
conduct ed wit h t he use of a penet romet er such as t he Magness-Taylor firmness t est er or t he Effegi
penet romet er.
The penet romet er measures t he t ot al force required t o punct ure t hrough a given port ion of t he
fruit or veget able t o a st andard dept h using a probe of specified diamet er. The rat e of loading
shoul d be cont rol l ed and speci f i ed i n mechani zed measurement s. The opt i mal rat e of l oadi ng
differs for different commodit ies.
Compression t est s are not commonly used by t he fruit and veget able indust ry; t hey are widely
used in research. They can be made on cylindrical t issue specimens excised from t he fruit or on
int act product s using a variet y of cont act geomet ries.
4. Factors that impact on fresh produce qualit y
The pre-harvest qualit y of produce is influenced by t he cult ivars, genot ypes and root st ocks, climat e,
cult ural pract ices, mat urit y and ripening (Kader 2002).
Pre-harvest factors
Cultivar: Genet ics are t he key t o t he flavour, t ext ure, post -harvest life and suscept ibilit y of fresh
f r ui t s and veg et ab l es t o enzymat i c b rowni ng (Gar ci a and Bar r et t 2002). The sel ect i on of
appropriat e cult ivars is, t herefore, of crit ical import ance in assuring t he qualit y charact erist ics of
fruit dest ined for fresh-cut processing.
Climat ic fact ors: Cl i mat i c f act ors and t he envi ronment i n whi ch crop s are p roduced have
a significant impact on t he eat ing qualit y and shelf-life of fresh produce. Temperat ure and light
int ensit y pre-harvest influence t he make-up and nut rit ional qualit y of fruit s and veget ables. The
locat ion and growing season may influence t he levels of ascorbic acid, carot ene, riboflavin et c. High
levels of rainfall increase t he suscept ibilit y of t he plant t o mechanical damage. Low light int ensit y
generally result s in reduced levels of ascorbic acid (vit amin C) in plant t issue.
Temperat ure influences t he upt ake of minerals by plant s during t ranspirat ion. The st rengt h of t he
sun’s radiat ion is known t o affect produce t ext ure. Excessive exposure of t omat oes t o excessive
20
sunl i ght can, f or exampl e, resul t i n sunscal d or sunburn. Int ense sunl i ght can i ncrease f rui t
t emperat ures and result s in fruit damage and loss of firmness (Sams 1999).
Cultural practices: Cult ural pract ices such as pruning and t rimming enhance crop load and t he
size of fruit . Fruit mat urit y may be affect ed by t he use of pest icides and growt h regulat ors. Soil
qualit y wit h respect t o nut rient composit ion has an immediat e impact on developing fruit and on
t ext ure (Sams 1999), appearance and t ast e (Kader 2002). Kader and Mit cham (1999) report ed t hat
a lack of calcium during cult ivat ion oft en result ed in t issue sof t ening af t er harvest . Bachmann and
Earles (2000) report ed t hat produce t hat has been st ressed by t oo much or t oo lit t le wat er, or high
rat es of nit rogen, was part icularly suscept ible t o post -harvest diseases.
The impact of cult ural pract ices on food safet y is now widely recognized. A number of out breaks
of foodborne illnesses have been t raced t o cont aminat ion of produce in t he field (Bachmann and
Earles 2000). Improper use of manure and cont aminat ed irrigat ion wat er can t ransfer pat hogens
ont o crops, result ing in human disease. Raw manure should never be applied t o edible crops. Good
Agricult ural Pract ice (GAP) must t herefore be applied in order t o mit igat e cont aminat ion risks t o
produce during product ion.
Harvest factors that impact on fresh produce qualit y
The mat urit y of fruit s and veget ables at harvest det ermines t heir qualit y. Immat ure fruit may lack
flavour and are suscept ible t o disorders. Apart from affect ing t he flavour, mat urit y at harvest also
has a direct effect on t he t ext ure of fresh produce. Immat ure fruit s cont ain pect ic mat erials, known
as prot opect ins, of very high molecular weight . On ripening, t he chain lengt h of t he pect ic polymer
decreases and wat er-soluble pect ins are formed. This result s in t ext ural changes in t he fruit , leading
t o a sof t and mushy consist ency (Bourne 1983). Overripe fruit s are highly suscept ible t o damage
during cut t ing and are t hus unsuit able for fresh-cut processing.
Many fruit s are harvest ed at t he mat ure but unripe st age of development in order t o ensure best
eat i ng qual i t y. Cl i mact eri c f rui t s such as bananas, guavas and papayas cont i nue t o ri pen af t er
har vest . These f rui t s can be ri pened by exposure t o et hyl ene. Ot her f rui t s such as pi neappl es,
oranges, lychees and muskmelons must be harvest ed when mat ure because no furt her ripening
and flavour development occurs.
Kader and Mi t cham (1999) suggest ed t hat f ul l y mat ure f rui t i n whi ch met abol i c act i vi t y i s i n
decline are at an opt imal st age for har vest given t hat post -har vest changes occur more slowly
and st orage life is improved. Ripe and fully ripe fruit t end t o develop a desirable t ast e wit h t he
onset of st arch t o sugar conversion, as occurs in bananas and mangoes for example. Ast ringency
due t o a high level of t annins also t ends t o decline at t his t ime. Wat ada and Li (1999) not ed t hat
t he qualit y of young honeydew melon cubes wit h 8.8 percent soluble solids was lower t han t hat
of more mat ure fruit s wit h 13 percent soluble solids af t er st orage. Beaulieu and Baldwin (2002)
found t hat t he aroma of fresh-cut cant aloupe increased wit h harvest mat urit y.
Veget ables are generally of opt imal eat ing qualit y prior t o reaching full mat urit y. Veget ables t hat
are not harvest ed at t he correct st age of mat urit y are generally of lower qualit y and undergo rapid
det eriorat ion aft er harvest .
21
Post-harvest factors that impact on fresh produce qualit y and safet y
Qual i t y af t er har vest i s i nf l uenced by handl i ng and t he management of rel at i ve humi di t y and
t emperat ure condi t i ons. Qual i t y l oss resul t s f rom f act ors t hat are bot h i nt ernal (physi ol ogi cal
processes) and ext ernal (microbiological, chemical, environment al and mechanical) t o harvest ed
produce. Respirat ion and t ranspirat ion are physiological processes t hat can be great ly influenced
by envi ronment al condi t i ons such as t emperat ure, rel at i ve humi di t y, t he composi t i on of t he
gaseous environment and mechanical or physical damage t o t he produce.
Microbial and chemical cont aminat ion can great ly compromise t he safet y of hort icult ural produce.
Microbial cont aminat ion can be t ransmit t ed t hrough improper cult ural pract ices, by unsanit ary
worker pract i ce and t hrough cont act wi t h soi l and uncl ean sur f aces. Mechani cal i nj ur y can
accelerat e t he loss of wat er and vit amin C and can increase suscept ibilit y t o decay by pat hogenic
microorganisms (Kader 2002).
Maint aining qualit y af t er harvest necessit at es proper handling t o avoid mechanical and physical
inj ury and t he avoidance of chemical and microbiological cont aminat ion. Produce must also be
st or ed under op t i mal condi t i ons of t emp er at ure and rel at i ve humi di t y. Et hyl ene-sensi t i ve
commodit ies such as leafy veget ables, herbs and wat ermelons must be st ored in t he absence of
et hylene and away from high et hylene producers such as cant aloupes, peaches and t omat oes.
5. Maintaining the quality of fresh produce between harvest and processing
Harvesting to assure qualit y and safet y
Qual i t y i s i nf l uenced by mat ur i t y at har vest and t he met hods of har vest i ng, st orage t i mes,
t emperat ures and ext ent of handling. Produce should ideally be harvest ed during t he cooler part
of t he day, on t he day of processing, in order t o minimize st orage and handling and t hus increase
fresh-cut shelf-life. Field st aff should be t rained in proper harvest ing met hods so as t o prevent
damage t o t he produce. Fruit should be physically mat ure, wit h flavour developing for best t ast e.
Produce wit h insect damage, sun scorch or any ot her physical damage would not produce good
qualit y fresh-cut product s wit h t he desired shelf-life. Reducing defect s also reduces t he microbial
load associat ed wit h t he produce.
Field workers must use t he appropriat e harvest ing equipment and prot ect ive cont ainers in order
t o prevent damage t o produce during harvest ing.
Post-harvest handling to assure qualit y and safet y of fresh produce
Har vest ed produce shoul d be pl aced i n a shaded area so as t o avoi d sun damage i f awai t i ng
t ransport at ion t o t he processing plant . Produce must be properly handled t o avoid bruising and
cont aminat ion.
Pre-cool i ng
Pre-cooling is t he rapid removal of field heat from fresh produce. It is among t he most efficient
qualit y enhancement s available t o commercial producers and ranks as one of t he most essent ial
value-added act ivit ies in t he hort icult ural chain. Proper pre-cooling can:
22
Prevent qual i t y l oss due t o sof t eni ng by suppressi ng enzymat i c degradat i on and
respirat ory act ivit y;
Prevent wilt ing by slowing or inhibit ing wat er loss;
Slow t he rat e of produce decay by slowing or inhibit ing microbial growt h (fungi and
bact eria);
Reduce t he rat e of et hylene product ion; and
Minimize t he impact of et hylene on et hylene-sensit ive produce.
Plat e 3.1 shows t wo met hods for removing field heat from veget ables before st orage.
Plate 3.1 Removal of field heat from bulk vegetables
(Images publ i shed wi t h permi ssi on of Boskovi ch Farms, Inc., Cal i forni a, USA. www.boskovi chfarms.com)
Ice and wat er i nject i on Vacuum cool i ng t unnel
Washi ng and di si nfect i on
Any dirt on t he surface of produce must be t horoughly removed by washing in wat er. The produce
must be subsequent ly washed in pot able wat er cont aining a sanit izer in order t o reduce t he risk
of t he t ransfer of microbial cont aminat ion during processing.
A sanitizing agent or sanitizer is an ant imicrobial agent applied t o dest roy or reduce t he number
of mi croorgani sms of publ i c heal t h concern, wi t hout af fect i ng produce qual i t y and consumer
safet y. Sani t i zers mi ni mi ze t he t ransmi ssi on of pat hogens f rom wat er t o produce, reduce t he
microbial load on t he surface of t he produce and prevent microbial build-up in t he processing
wat er.
Sani t i zers ap p l i ed t o f resh f rui t s and veget ab l es must b e saf e i n use and must b e used i n
accordance wit h given inst ruct ions. The sanit izer concent rat ion in t he processing wat er should be
rout inely monit ored and adj ust ed t o prescribed levels. Should it not be possible t o monit or t he
sanit izer concent rat ion, recommendat ions for t he reuse of sanit ized wat er should be followed. In
order t o mi ni mi ze t he bui l d-up of organi c mat eri al s, t he wat er must be f i l t ered, or ot her wi se
changed. Technical assist ance on t he use of sanit izers should be sought when necessary.
23
Sani t i zer t reat ment : Post -har vest hand l i ng and sani t at i on t r eat ment s have consi d er ab l e
impact on t he microbiological qualit y of fresh-cut produce. Washing whole fruit s and veget ables
i n cl ean wat er onl y achi eves an i nsi gni f i cant reduct i on i n mi crobi al popul at i ons. The use of
sani t i zers such as chl ori ne, peroxyacet i c aci d, hydrogen peroxi de, aci di f i ed sodi um chl ori de
or ozone can provi de an addi t i onal 1-2 l og reduct i on i n t he i ni t i al popul at i on (Heard 2002) of
microorganisms on t he surface of fresh produce.
Chlorine is current ly t he most commonly used sanit izer in washing operat ions. Chlorine has been
successfully used at concent rat ions ranging from 50 t o 200 part s per million (ppm) t o wash fruit s
i n f resh-cut f rui t st udi es (Ayhan et al . 1998; Beaul i eu and Gorny 2002 Ukuku and Sapers 2001;
USFDA 2001) and fresh-cut mango st udies (Mart ínez-Ferrer et al. 2002; Chant anawarangoon 2000).
Improper use of chl ori ne can, however, l ead t o t he ret ent i on of a f ai nt chl ori ne odour on t he
fresh-cut fruit .
Despit e it s common use as a disinfect ant for decont aminat ion of fresh produce, chemical hazards
associat ed wit h chlorine or chlorine residues are of concern. The use of chlorine in t he processing
of mi ni mal l y processed product s has been banned i n some European count ri es (Day 2001;
Varoquaux and Mazollier 2002).
Al t ernat i ves t o chl ori ne
Chlorine dioxide (ClO
2
): This is a wat er-soluble yellowish green gas wit h an odour similar t o t hat
of chlorine. It does not hydrolyse in wat er and is unaffect ed by pH (6-10) changes. It does not react
wit h organic mat t er t o form chloroform. It has been approved for use in flume wat ers in fruit and
veget able operat ions by t he Unit ed St at es Food and Drug Administ rat ion (USFDA). The oxidizing
power of chlorine dioxide is 2.5 t imes t hat of chlorine. Chlorine dioxide is effect ive against many
microorganisms at lower concent rat ions t han free chlorine. It is highly effect ive at neut ral pH. It s
react ivit y is, however, reduced by t he presence of organic mat t er.
Chlorine dioxide is more cost ly t han chlorine. It cannot be t ransport ed and must be generat ed on
sit e. In addit ion, simple assays for rout ine evaluat ion of it s concent rat ion are not available. Chlorine
dioxide may produce hazardous by-product s such as chlorit e (ClO
2
) and chlorat e (ClO
3
). It s noxious
odour is t oxic t o humans. Microbial suscept ibilit y t o chlorine dioxide depends on t he microbial
st rai n and envi r onment al condi t i ons dur i ng ap p l i cat i on. Chl or i ne di oxi de can b e used on
processing equipment at a maximum level of 200 ppm whereas for whole or uncut produce it can
be used at a level of 3 ppm.
Acidified sodium chlorite (ASC, NaClO
2
): Thi s i s a chl ori ne-based sani t i zer synonymous wi t h
SANOVA® and forms chlorous acid (NaClO
2
+ H
+
– HClO
2
), which has st rong oxidizing capacit y.
Chlorous acid furt her breaks down t o chlorit e. This sanit izer has been approved by t he USFDA and
t he Uni t ed St at es Envi ronment al Prot ect i on Agency (USEPA) f or ap p l i cat i on on f rui t s and
veget ables, including fresh-cut produce, by spraying or dipping in 500-1 200 ppm solut ion.
Ozone (O
3
): This is a wat er-soluble gas wit h broad and rapid biocidal act ivit y. It has st rong oxidizing
capacit y and high react ivit y and penet rabilit y. It is, however, unst able under ambient t emperat ure
condit ions. Ozone rapidly undergoes spont aneous decomposit ion under condit ions of high pH
24
(pH >8) l eadi ng t o t he product i on of oxygen whi ch i s a non-t oxi c product . Ozone must b e
generat ed on sit e from air.
Gaseous ozone i s t oxi c t o humans (>4 ppm). The maxi mum permi ssi bl e l evel f or shor t -t erm
exposure is 0.3 ppm in air. It is corrosive t o common mat erials, t hus st ainless st eel should be used.
Ozone must be filt ered in order t o remove organic and part iculat e mat erials. Ozone has been given
a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) st at us for use in food cont act applicat ions. Concent rat ions
of 1 ppm or lower in wat er and short cont act t imes are sufficient t o inact ivat e bact eria, moulds,
yeast s, parasit es and viruses. An ozone concent rat ion of 0.5-4 ppm is recommended for wash wat er,
whereas for flume wat er an ozone concent rat ion of 0.1 ppm is recommended.
Elect rolyzed wat er: Thi s may come i n t he form of aci di c el ect rol yzed wat er (AEW) or neut ral
el ect rol yzed wat er (NEW). AEW i s known as el ect rol yzed oxi di zi ng wat er and i s st rongl y aci di c
(pH of 2.1 t o 4.5). It cont ains HOCl as an ant imicrobial component . AEW is used widely in Japan.
It has bi oci dal ef fect s agai nst E. col i O157:H7, S. ent eri t i di s, L. monocyt ogenes and bi of i l ms. The
bact ericidal power of AEW is higher t han t hat of a 5-ppm ozone solut ion in t he decont aminat ion
of fresh-cut let t uce.
NEW on t he ot her hand has a neut ral pH (close t o 7.0). It cont ains bet ween 15 and 50 ppm of
available chlorine obt ained from 2.5 percent NaCl. It is generally t wo t o t hree t imes more effect ive
t han NaOCl.
25
CHAPTER IV
FRESH-CUT PROCESSING: PHYSIOLOGICAL
AND MICROBIOLOGICAL IMPACTS
Fresh-cut processing involves peeling, t rimming and deseeding fresh produce and cut t ing it t o
specific size (Figure 4.1). Fresh-cut product s must not only look fresh, but must have t he sensory
propert ies – aroma, t ast e, t ext ure and visual appeal – associat ed wit h freshly prepared produce.
Thus onl y f resh produce of good qual i t y must be used as t he st ar t i ng mat eri al i n f resh-cut
processing. Fresh-cut product s must also be safe, wholesome and nut rit ious.
Figure 4.1 Typical fresh-cut process flow chart for fruits, vegetables and root crops
Harvest
Recei vi ng
Pre-cool i ng
Washi ng and di si nfect i on
Peel i ng, t ri mmi ng, deseedi ng
Cut t i ng t o speci fi c si zes
Sort i ng for defect s
Di ppi ng
Dryi ng
Packagi ng and l abel l i ng
St orage and di st ri but i on
Ant imicrobial agent
Ant ibrowning agent
Text ure-preservi ng agent
26
1. Physiological effects of fresh-cut processing
Fresh-cut processi ng i nvol ves cut t i ng t hrough t he t i ssue of f resh produce, t hus causi ng maj or
t issue disrupt ion and t he release of enzymes t hat int eract wit h subst rat es associat ed wit h t he fruit
t issue. Wounding of t he fruit t issue by cut t ing also increases et hylene product ion and st imulat es
respirat ion and phenolic met abolism. Phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), an enzyme t hat cat alyses
t he format ion of phenolic compounds, is st imulat ed by et hylene product ion (Figure 4.2). Phenolic
compounds in t urn serve as subst rat es for polyphenoloxidase enzymes which, in t he presence of
oxygen, event ually lead t o t he format ion of complex brown polymers.
Figure 4.2 Steps in phenolic metabolism that result in browning
Cinnamic Acid Phenylalanine
PAL
Phenolics
PPO O
2
Complex Brown
Polymers
Quinones
PAL – Phenylalanine ammonia lyase
PPO – Polyphenoloxidase
Increased respi rat i on rat es resul t i n wat er l oss and a reduct i on i n t he l evel s of carbohydrat es,
vit amins and organic acids, wit h a net negat ive impact on flavour and aroma. Wat er loss is also
enhanced by membrane and cell wall degradat ion, and result s in loss of t urgor. At t he same t ime,
microbial growt h at t he cut surface also increases as sugars become available, t hus accelerat ing
t he opport unit y for microbial spoilage.
2. Biochemical changes brought about by fresh-cut processing
Colour change
Browning or surface darkening is one of t he main physiological effect s of fresh-cut processing and
leads t o qualit y loss in fresh-cut produce. It is t he result of oxidat ion of phenolic subst rat es present
in t he produce by PPO enzymes (McEvily et al. 1992). The ext ent of browning is dependent on t he
concent rat ions of act ive PPO and phenolic compounds in t he produce t issue, pH, t emperat ure and
oxygen available t o t he t issues as well as on t he presence of ant ioxidant compounds (Kader 2002).
High levels of PPO enzymes are generally found in t issues t hat are rich in phenolic compounds.
Levels of PPO and PPO subst rat es change during t he life cycle of fruit s and veget ables.
Carot enoids, a yellow pigment in fruit and veget able t issues, are highly suscept ible t o oxidat ive
breakdown t hat i s cat al ysed by l i poxygenase enzymes. Yel l owi ng of green veget abl es such as
27
broccoli and spinach reduces t heir qualit y and shelf-life. Dehydrat ion of surface debris on cut and
peeled carrot s result s in a t ranslucent appearance, referred t o as ‘whit e blush’, which reduces t heir
market appeal.
Flavour qualit y changes
Key component s of flavour in fresh fruit s are sweet ness, acidit y, ast ringency and bit t erness. Many
flavour and aroma component s are lost in fresh-cut fruit s t hrough enzymat ic react ions brought
about by cut t ing, and t hrough t he increased respirat ion rat es of t he fruit t issue.
Microbial spoilage also cont ribut es t o flavour degradat ion in fresh-cut product s. Fresh-cut product s
can acqui re of f -f l avours wi t h t he growt h of l act i c aci d bact eri a or pseudomonads, resul t i ng i n
ferment at ion and t he product ion of acids, alcohols and carbon dioxide gas (CO
2
). Lipase enzymes
and t he breakdown of amino acids in fruit s by microorganisms can cont ribut e t o t he alt erat ion
of fruit flavours.
Changes in nutritional qualit y
Vit amins A, B6, C, t hiamine, niacin, minerals and diet ary fibre all cont ribut e t o t he nut rit ional qualit y
of fresh fruit s and veget ables. Compounds such as flavonoids, carot enoids, polyphenols and ot her
phyt onut rient s associat ed wit h reducing t he risk of cancer and hear t disease are also found in
plant s. According t o Gil et al . (2006), fresh-cut fruit s and veget ables can appear visually spoiled
before any nut rient loss occurs. In t he fut ure, plant -breeding t echniques may be used t o creat e
cult ivars wit h improved nut rit ional at t ribut es t hat are able t o wit hst and t he effect s of processing.
Texture qualit y changes
The unprot ect ed cut surface of fresh-cut fruit s loses moist ure at an ext remely rapid rat e. Such high
rat es of wat er loss result in rapid wilt ing and shrivelling of fresh-cut produce and t hus a loss of
t he crisp, firm t ext ure of t he product . Tissue sof t ening of fresh-cut produce during st orage is t he
result of st ruct ural changes in t he primary cell walls; t his is caused by enzymat ic act ivit y t hat leads
t o dissolut ion of t he rigid pect ic cells and a decrease in t heir resist ance t o pressure. Decreased
rigidit y due t o wat er loss is t he main cause of t issue sof t ening in fresh-cut fruit s.
Whi l e t here i s a pauci t y of dat a on t he ef fect s of fer t i l i zer on f resh-cut f rui t qual i t y, t oo much
nit rogen is known t o reduce firmness, while high levels of pot assium and calcium can improve fruit
qualit y at harvest .
3. Qualit y loss due to microbial contamination
Fr esh -cut veg et ab l es h ar b our l ower n umb er s of mi cr oor g an i sms t h an un w ash ed w h ol e
veget ables, as a result of washing in chlorinat ed wat er. Slicing, dicing and shredding procedures,
as well as t emperat ure abuse during st orage, can, however, result in increases in populat ions of
mesophilic aerobic microorganisms (Bracket t 1992; Nguyen-t he and Carlin 1994) associat ed wit h
fresh-cut product s. The effect s of processing and st orage condit ions on t he survival and growt h
of pat hogenic microorganisms on fresh-cut produce is a public healt h concern.
28
Microbes associat ed wit h fresh-cut fruit and veget able product s can vary great ly in accordance
wit h t he produce t ype and st orage condit ions. Temperat ure plays a significant role in det ermining
t he nat ure of t he mi crof l ora associ at ed wi t h ref ri gerat ed f resh-cut f rui t s and veget abl es. The
numbers and ki nds of mi croorgani sms associ at ed wi t h f resh-cut produce are hi ghl y vari abl e.
Mesophilic bact eria from plat e count st udies t ypically ranged from 103 t o 109 CFU/ g. Tot al count s
on product s af t er processing ranged from 10
3
t o 10
6
CFU/ g (Nguyen-t he and Carlin 1994).
2
Veget ables are suscept ible t o at t ack by bact erial pat hogens owing t o t heir neut ral pH. Spoilage
of fresh-cut veget ables by bact eria is charact erized by brown or black discolorat ion, product ion
of off-odours, loss of t ext ure and soft rot . Fruit product s undergo ferment at ive spoilage by lact ic
acid bact eria or yeast s and wilt ing owing t o vascular infect ions (Heard 2000).
4. Spoilage organisms associated with fresh-cut produce
Pseudomonads: The f ami l y Pseudomonadaceae consi st s of t he f our genera: Pseudomonas,
Xant homonas, Zoogl oea and Fraut euri a (Pal l eroni 1992). The rol e of pseudomonads as spoi l age
organisms is well known. Pseudomonads cont ribut e t o t he spoilage of fresh produce by producing
t i ssue-degradi ng enzymes such as pect ol yt i c cel l ul ases, xyl anases, gl ycosi de hydrol ases and
lipoxygenase t hat degrade t he cell walls of t he plant t issue, result ing in macerat ion of t he plant
t issue. Pseudomonads may also cont ribut e t o t he yellowing of veget able product s during st orage,
t hrough t he product ion of et hylene.
Pseudomonads are commonly isolat ed from fresh-cut veget able salads. Pseudomonas fl uorescens
are generally t he main species associat ed wit h t he spoilage of leafy veget ables such as fresh-cut
spinach and let t uce. Ot her Pseudomonas species associat ed wit h fresh-cut s include Pseudomonas
put i da, Pseudomonas chl oraphi s, Pseudomonas corrugat a, Pseudomonas cepaci a, Pseudomonas
pauci mobi l l i s, Pseudomonas margi nal i s (P. f l uorescens bi ot ype II) and Pseudomonas vi ri df l ava.
Predomi nant speci es report ed on veget abl es such as broccol i , endi ve and sprout s i ncl ude t he
f l uorescent Pseudomonads and speci es of Kl ebsi el l a, Ser rat i a, Lavobact eri um, Xant homonas,
Chromobact erium and Al cal i genes. Pseudomonas. Syri ngae and Pseudomonas st ut zeri were isolat ed
from st ored fresh-cut Thai mango (Ngarmsak et al . 2005). These plant pat hogens occur on many
plant species and can cont ribut e t o t he spoilage of fresh produce when t heir populat ions exceed
10
8
CFU/ g.
Lactic acid bacteria: These are gram-posit ive bact eria, which can be bot h rods and cocci. They are
t radit ionally known as ferment at ive organisms and are associat ed wit h ferment ed food product s
and wit h food spoilage. There are t hree main groups: t he Lact obaci l l us del bruecki i group, which
includes mainly homoferment at ive lact obacilli; t he Lact obaci l l us casei / Pedi ococcus group; and t he
Leuconost oc group (Hear d 2000). The hab i t at s of sp eci es of t he gener a Lact obaci l l us and
Leuconost oc include plant s and plant mat erial, soil, wat er, sewage, fruit and grain mashes. Their
f erment at i ve met abol i sm and abi l i t y t o grow under anaerobi c condi t i ons enabl e l act i c aci d
bact eria t o cause spoilage, such as souring of t he product , gas product ion and slime format ion.
Fresh produce it ems t hat are suscept ible t o spoilage by lact ic acid bact eria include let t uce, chicory
leaves and carrot s.
2
CFU = colony-forming unit .
29
Yeast and moulds: Fruit s are frequent ly affect ed by fungal pat hogens because of t heir relat ively
high levels of acidit y (low pH) while veget ables are suscept ible t o at t ack by bact erial pat hogens
because t hey are neit her acidic nor basic, but are at a neut ral pH. In some inst ances, specific plant
pat hogenic fungi may be associat ed wit h part icular forms of spoilage such as t he breakdown of
t issues. Moulds are aerobic microorganisms and can, t herefore, be inhibit ed at CO
2
concent rat ions
as low as 10 percent .
Pathogenic organisms
Food-borne pat hogens known t o cont ami nat e fresh-cut product s i ncl ude bact eri a, vi ruses and
parasit es such as prot ozoa. Of t hese, bact eria are of t he great est concern in t erms of report ed cases
and gravi t y of i l l ness. Al t hough not t hei r nat ural habi t at , most f rui t s and veget abl es cont ai n
nut rient s required t o support t he growt h of pat hogenic and t oxigenic microorganisms. St orage
t emperat ure and pH are report ed t o be t he t wo principal det erminant s of growt h for food-borne
pat hogens associat ed wit h fresh produce.
Psychrot rophi c bact eri a, whi ch are organi sms t hat can grow under condi t i ons of ref ri gerat i on,
vary widely in t heir acidic t olerances and are t he most import ant spoilage group for fruit s and
veget ab l es. The most i mp or t ant of t hese f rom a f ood saf et y p oi nt of vi ew are Li st eri a and
Clost ridium. The fact t hat t hese organisms can grow at refrigerat ed t emperat ures makes t hem very
import ant from an export perspect ive.
Fresh-cut veget ables can be occasionally cont aminat ed wit h food-borne pat hogenic bact eria such
as L. monocyt ogenes (Sizmur and Walker 1988) and Salmonella spp. (O’Mahony et al. 1990).
Good Manufact uring Pract ice (GMP) and food safet y syst ems such as Hazard Analysis and Crit ical
Cont rol Point s (HACCP) must be applied in t he product ion of fresh-cut fruit s and veget ables if t hey
are t o be recognized as being safe.
Listeria monocytogenes: This is a gram-posit ive bact erium t hat causes list eriosis, a serious disease
in pregnant women, t he elderly and t hose wit h weakened immune syst ems. L. monocyt ogenes is
widespread in t he environment (i.e. in soil, wat er and decaying veget at ion). It has been isolat ed
f rom t he i nt est i nal t ract of domest i c ani mal s and humans, f rom raw produce and i n f ood-
processi ng envi ronment s part i cul arl y i n cool damp areas. It can survi ve and grow under bot h
ambient and refrigerat ed t emperat ures. There are report s describing survival of t he organism and
format ion of biofilms on surfaces in food-processing environment s, part icularly in drains. It may
also be t ransmit t ed by aerosols and on workers’ hands.
Li st eri a monocyt ogenes has been isolat ed from pre-packaged mixed veget able product s, chicory,
endive and fresh-cut let t uce, sliced cucumber and fruit s such as t omat oes and cant aloupe. It has
also been implicat ed in food-borne disease out breaks across t he globe.
Salmonella: Salmonella is a common cause of food-borne illness (salmonellosis) and is responsible
f or mi l l i ons of cases of i l l ness each year. Fresh p r od uce may b ecome cont ami nat ed wi t h
sal monel l ae t hrough cont act wi t h sewage and cont ami nat ed wat er or t hrough handl i ng by
i nf ect ed workers. Sal monel l ae do not grow i n foods st ored at t emperat ures l ower t han 7ºC.
30
Salmonella should, t herefore, not pose a risk t o public healt h in fresh-cut product s, provided t hese
product s are maint ained at or below 7ºC.
Typical sympt oms of salmonellosis are nausea, vomit ing, abdominal cramps, fever, mild diarrhoea
and headache. These sympt oms generally last over six t o 48 hours.
Clost ridium bot ulinum: Thi s i s a sp or e-f or mi ng b act er i um. The sp ores of C. bot ul i num are
commonly found in agricult ural soils and on t he surfaces of fruit s and veget ables; t hey generat e
pot ent neurot oxins t hat produce a range of sympt oms in humans including nausea, diarrhoea and
vomi t i ng and neurol ogi cal sympt oms such as bl urred vi si on, di l at ed pupi l s, paral ysi s of mot or
n er ves, l o ss o f n o r mal mo u t h an d t h r o at f u n ct i o n s, l ack o f mu scl e coo r d i n at i o n , o t h er
compl i cat i ons and possi bl e deat h. C. bot ul i num spores are capabl e of growi ng on f resh-cut
veget ables under condit ions of low O
2
and high t emperat ure (Sugiyama and Yang 1975).
Shigella spp: Humans are a nat ural reservoir for Shi gel l a spp. The primary means of t ransmission
of t he Shi gel l a organism is by t he fecal-oral rout e. Most cases of infect ion by Shi gel l a (shigellosis)
are at t ribut ed t o t he ingest ion of food or wat er cont aminat ed wit h fecal mat t er. Cont aminat ion
has of t en been associat ed wit h poor personal hygiene of food workers. Typical sympt oms include
abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhoea, fever, vomit ing and blood, pus, or mucus in st ools. Shigellosis
out breaks have been associat ed wit h shredded let t uce, pot at o salad, green onions and parsley.
Escherichia coli: It i s reasonab l e t o b el i eve t hat as a resul t of sub st andard or even i l l egal
agricult ural pract ices, produce may be cont aminat ed wit h human pat hogens such as E. coli. The
Nat ional Advisory Commit t ee on Microbiological Crit eria for Foods (NACMCF) in t he Unit ed St at es
list s 11 agent s associat ed wit h produce-borne out breaks. Foremost among t hem are Escheri chi a
col i O157:H7 and various Sal monel l a serot ypes.
Control of food-borne pathogens
Cont rol of food-borne pat hogens must begin before produce is even plant ed, by avoiding fields
t hat have been subj ect ed t o f l oodi ng, on whi ch ani mal s have recent l y grazed or have been
cont aminat ed wit h manure. Af t er plant ing, only clean pot able wat er should be used for irrigat ion
and harvest ing equipment should be t horoughly cleaned and sanit ized. Bot h field workers and
packing-house and processing-plant personnel should be inst ruct ed in proper personal hygiene
and provided wit h adequat e sanit ary and hand-washing facilit ies. Vehicles t ransport ing finished
product s should be sanit ized, properly loaded t o provide adequat e air circulat ion and maint ained
at appropriat e t emperat ures. Likewise, ret ail display cases must be kept clean and at appropriat e
chi l l ed t emperat ures. Fi nal l y, consumers shoul d be i nformed as t o proper hygi eni c handl i ng of
produce.
31
Chapt er V
STRATEGIES FOR MINIMIZING QUALITY LOSS
AND ASSURING SAFETY DURING
FRESH-CUT PROCESSING
Fresh-cut processing of fruit s and veget ables represent s a paradox in food science. Unlike ot her
processes appl i ed t o food product s, t he uni t operat i ons appl i ed t o f resh commodi t i es duri ng
fresh-cut processing t end t o decrease shelf-life, rat her t han enhance t he st abilit y of t he product
(Chant anawarangoon 2000).
Thi s Chapt er di scusses st rat egi es for maxi mi zi ng qual i t y and assuri ng safet y duri ng f resh-cut
processing operat ions.
1. Minimizing mechanical damage and microbial cont aminat ion during
cutting
The qualit y and st at us of equipment used for peeling and cut t ing is crit ical in fresh-cut processing
operat ions. Use of t he sharpest cut t ing t ools will ext end product shelf-life. Dull ut ensils have been
proven t o cause excessive cell damage and bruising leading t o poor qualit y. Severe peeling and
cut t ing must be avoided.
Cant well (1998) st udied t he impact of blade sharpness on t he qualit y of fresh-cut melons st ored
at 5ºC. The resul t s i ndi cat ed t hat mel on chunks cut wi t h a dul l b l ade were suscep t i b l e t o
a t ransl ucence di sorder, i ncreased l eakage and hi gh et hanol concent rat i ons i n t he package
(Port ela and Cant well 2001). Pear slices cut wit h a freshly sharpened knife ret ained t heir visual
qual i t y l onger t han f rui t cut wi t h a dul l hand sl i cer (Gorny and Kader 1996). O’Bei rne (2007)
showed t hat slicing wit h a blunt blade enhanced t he penet rat ion of fresh-cut carrot s by E. coli and
i t s subsequent survi val duri ng st orage. Frequent sharpeni ng of machi ne and hand kni ves and
proper cleaning and sanit izing of processing equipment and surfaces t hat come in cont act wit h
fresh-cut s is clearly a key cont rol point in fresh-cut fruit processing.
2. Minimizing transfer of contamination during washing operations
Many l arge f resh-cut processi ng operat i ons t reat and recycl e wat er i n order t o conser ve t hi s
precious commodit y. Care must be t aken in recycling wat er so as not t o int roduce new risks of
increased microorganisms t o produce during washing. It is recommended t hat t he best qualit y
wat er be used for t he final rinse of int act fruit s and veget ables prior t o fresh-cut processing.
32
Many operat ions inj ect chlorine as a disinfect ant along wit h acid in order t o maint ain a pH range
of 4.5-5.5 and assure t he effect iveness of chlorine during washing operat ions. Measurement and
recordi ng of t he chl ori ne l evel and t he pH of wash wat er i s a cri t i cal el ement of any qual i t y
assurance programme. When used t o reduce t he t emperat ure of wash wat er, i ce shoul d be
rout inely t est ed in order t o ensure t hat it is not a source of cont aminat ion.
The disinfect ant level in wash wat er can be monit ored t hrough t he measurement of oxidat ion-
reduct ion pot ent ial (ORP). ORP is a measure of t he oxidat ion level in t he wat er in millivolt s, and
gives an indicat ion of t he efficacy of a sanit izer during processing. The st ronger t he oxidat ion, t he
fast er t he microbes are killed. Variables t hat affect ant imicrobial act ivit y during processing direct ly
affect t he ORP value and may also be used t o det ermine t he effect iveness of oxidizers such as
hypochlorous acid, hypobromous acid, chlorine dioxide, ozone and peroxides.
Wat er qualit y can be maint ained by:
Closely following mixing direct ions for sanit izers;
Using t est st rips or inst rument s t o rout inely measure sanit izer levels and pH;
Removing debris; and
Filt ering wash wat er before recycling.
3. Temperature management during processing operations
Temperat ure cont rol is essent ial at each st ep of a fresh-cut fruit process, in t he dist ribut ion chain
and i n ret ai l . Low t emperat ure st orage hel ps t o sl ow t he respi rat i on rat e, mai nt ai n qual i t y and
prol ong shel f -l i fe by keepi ng product t emperat ure at t he poi nt where met abol i c act i vi t y and
microbial det eriorat ion are minimized. Low t emperat ure st orage slows t he growt h of mould and
bact eria. Thus t he ideal st orage t emperat ure for each commodit y should be researched carefully.
Temperat ure is t he most import ant fact or in t he preservat ion of fresh-cut fruit qualit y. The rat es
of chemical and biochemical react ions t hat affect qualit y are largely det ermined by t emperat ure.
Heat and low t emperat ure are bot h used in t he pre-t reat ment of whole fruit s and veget ables prior
t o fresh-cut processing in order t o increase shelf-life (Lamikanra et al. 2005). Mild heat t reat ment
of whole apples before processing result ed in t he ret ent ion of firmness during st orage in some
fresh-cut apple cult ivars. Low t emperat ure pret reat ment s such as t he hydrocooling of asparagus
spears and baby corn reduced respirat ion rat es, reduced t oughening of t he t ext ure and prolonged
t he qualit y of fresh-cut product s.
Heat ed wash wat er t reat ment s were shown t o reduce pat hogens on mango fruit s (such as ‘Nam
Dok Mai ’). Mangoes t reat ed wit h 100 ppm chlorine at 50
o
C had virt ually no ret ent ion of aerobic
bact eria on fruit skin and fresh-cut samples (Ngarmsak et al. 2005).
Many fruit s of t ropical or subt ropical origin are sensit ive t o low t emperat ures (Paull 1990). These
fruit s are inj ured af t er a period of exposure t o chilling t emperat ures below 10 t o 15ºC, but above
t heir freezing point s. At t hese t emperat ures, fruit t issues are weakened owing t o t heir inabilit y t o
carr y out normal met abol i c processes. Vari ous physi cal and bi ochemi cal al t erat i ons and cel l
33
malfunct ions occur in response t o chilling st ress. When chilling st ress is cont inued, t hese alt erat ions
and malfunct ions lead t o t he development of a variet y of chilling injury sympt oms, such as surface
lesions, int ernal discolorat ion, wat er-soaking of t he t issue and failure t o ripen normally (Salt veit and
Morris 1990, cit ed in Wang 2004).
A number of fresh-cut fruit product s, exhibit less sensit ivit y t o chilling inj ury (CI) t han int act fruit s
(Siripanich 2000; Paull and Chen 2004). The reasons why peeled t issue t olerat es lower t emperat ures
are unclear, but t he degree of ripeness may play a role. Ripe fruit has been known t o t olerat e low
t emperat ures bet t er t hat unripe fruit (Siripanich 2000).
Cant well (1998) drew t he following conclusions regarding t he handling of fresh-cut product s t hat
are sensit ive t o chilling inj ury:
It is import ant t hat int act chill-sensit ive produce is not st ored below t he recommended
st orage t emperat ure, before being prepared as a fresh-cut product .
Once a chi l l -sensi t i ve commodi t y i s prepared as a f resh-cut product , st orage at l ow
t emperat ure is needed t o ret ard microbial growt h and ensure qualit y.
Mi crobi al changes t ake pl ace more rapi dl y t han t he appearance of any sympt om of
chilling inj ury.
For chill-sensit ive commodit ies, t emperat ure and cont rolled at mosphere suit able for t he
int act produce are of t en not suit able for fresh-cut pieces.
4. Post -cut t ing t reat ment s designed to extend t he shelf-life of fresh-cut
products
A number of physical and chemical t reat ment s designed t o delay physical decay processes in t he
t issues and t o ext end t he shelf-life of fresh-cut fruit s and veget ables have been developed and
t est ed. Chemical met hods rely on t he inhibit ion of specific react ions t hat generat e undesirable
changes. Physical met hods include reduct ions in t emperat ure and/ or oxygen concent rat ion, t he
use of modified at mosphere (MA) and t he applicat ion of heat or high pressures.
Chemical post-cutting treatments
Wounding and et hylene can init iat e phenolic met abolism t hat ult imat ely leads t o browning in
fresh-cut t issue. Cont rol of discolorat ion (pinking, reddening or blackening) or browning at cut
sur f aces i s, t herefore, a cri t i cal i ssue for f resh-cut producers. Out l i ned bel ow are a number of
st rat egies t hat may be used t o reduce cut -surface discolorat ion and maint ain t he t ext ural int egrit y
of fresh-cut produce.
Acidification: PPO most effect i vel y cat al yses cut -sur face di scol orat i on at a neut ral pH (around
pH 7.0). Browni ng can, t herefore, be sl owed by di ppi ng product s i n mi l dl y aci di c food grade
solut ions of acet ic, ascorbic, cit ric, t art aric, fumaric or phosphoric acid. Quit e of t en, combinat ions
of acids (for example combinat ions of ascorbic and cit ric acid) are more effect ive t han t he use of
acids individually. However, t hese acids may impart off-flavours or promot e t issue soft ening, and
must , t herefore, be used wit h care.
34
Reducing agents: Reducing agent s such as ascorbic acid or t he eryt hrobat e isomer of ascorbic acid
are commonl y used i n t he food i ndust r y t o prevent PPO-medi at ed cut -sur f ace di scol orat i on.
Ascorbic acid and eryt hrobat e reduce PPO-induced discolorat ion at cut -sur faces by convert ing
quinones (formed by PPO from phenolics) back int o phenolic compounds. Once all of t he ascorbic
aci d or er yt hrobat e i s exhaust ed, PPO browni ng wi l l proceed uni nhi bi t ed. Ascorbi c aci d or
eryt hrobat e are commonly used in solut ion at a concent rat ion of 1 µM. Given t heir acidic nat ure,
t hey may also reduce t he surface pH of commodit ies, furt her slowing t he rat e of browning.
Application of edible coatings: The applicat ion of edible coat ings such as sodium caseinat e or
st earic acid may be helpful in reducing whit e blush in veget ables such as carrot s. Treat ment s t hat
modify t he wat er-ret aining capacit y of t he cut surfaces also prevent whit e blush development .
Nat ural ant imicrobials: Some pl ant ext ract s, such as gi nger, mari gol d and ci nnamon, exhi bi t
ant i mi crobi al act i vi t y. Ci nnamon ext ract at 500 ppm was shown t o cont rol banana crown rot .
Chit osan, a polysaccharide ext ract ed from chit in, a nat ural subst ance in t he shells of shrimp and
crab has been shown t o be effect ive in cont rolling rambut an fruit rot (Lasiodiplodia t heobromae),
mango ant hracnose, banana crown rot and Bot r yt i s ci neri a i n st rawberri es. The appl i cat i on of
vanillin as a dip at a concent rat ion of 80 mN and st orage at 5ºC were effect ive in reducing t he
microbial populat ions in fresh-cut mangoes (Ngarmsak et al. 2006).
Firming agents: The firmness of t he flesh of fresh-cut fruit product s can be maint ained t hrough
t he applicat ion or t reat ment wit h calcium compounds. Dipping fresh-cut product s in solut ions of
0.5 t o 1.0 percent calcium chloride was shown t o be very effect ive in maint aining product firmness
(Pont ing et al. 1971; 1972). Calcium ions form cross links wit hin pect in chains, result ing in st ronger
cell walls. Calcium chloride t reat ment s can, however, result in bit t er off-flavours in some product s.
Physical post-cutting treatments
Reduced oxygen: As PPO requires oxygen in order t o induce cut -sur face discolorat ion, reducing
t he oxygen levels in a fresh-cut product package by vacuum, modified at mosphere packaging
(MAP) or gas flushing may reduce cut surface discolorat ion; however it does not complet ely st op
i t . Caref ul desi gn of f resh-cut packagi ng i s essent i al t o assure t he l evel s of oxygen wi t hi n t he
package. While excessive levels of oxygen in a package may lead t o discolorat ion of cut surfaces,
inadequat e levels may cause anaerobic met abolism, result ing in t he product ion of off-flavours and
odours.
MAP: Technologies cont inue t o be developed in order t o enhance t he shelf-life of fresh-cut fruit s
and veget abl es. Modi fi ed at mosphere and l ow t emperat ure st orage have been used for many
years t o reduce respirat ion rat es and t he det eriorat ion of fresh-cut produce. MAs by definit ion are
at mospheres t hat differ in composit ion from t hat of normal air. MAs can be generat ed passively
or act ively. In many developing count ries, fresh-cut produce is generally packed in film bags or
plast ic cont ainers overwrapped wit h film. A passive modified at mosphere is creat ed wit hin t he
package by t he respirat ion process of t he fresh-cut produce, combined wit h t he permeabilit y of
t he package. An act ive MA can be achieved by flushing wit h a part icular gas or mixt ure of gases
t o creat e an init ial at mosphere or by incorporat ing addit ives such as oxygen scavengers int o t he
packaging.
35
Typically, MAs consist ing of low oxygen and high CO
2
concent rat ions are used t o reduce respirat ion
rat es and et hyl ene product i on i n f resh-cut product s. Such condi t i ons can al so be appl i ed t o
prevent browni ng of t he cut sur f ace, ret ard enzyme act i vi t y and t o i nhi bi t mi crobi al growt h.
A successful MAP design requires t he det erminat ion of respirat ion rat e and respirat ion quot ient
(Al- At i and Hot chkiss 2002). The choice of appropriat e polymer films wit h suit able permeabilit y
and ap p r op r i at e f i l m ar ea; t oget her wi t h head sp ace vol umes and knowl ed ge of p rod uce
respirat ion charact erist ics, is essent ial. Excessive deplet ion of oxygen in t he package can result in
anaerobic respirat ion t hat leads t o t he format ion of off-flavours.
Given t he high respirat ion rat e of fresh produce, hazardous anaerobic condit ions and undesirable
f erment at i on react i ons can occur wi t hi n packages of f resh-cut produce when st ored under
condit ions of high t emperat ure. During t he ret ail of modified at mosphere packages, t emperat ure
fluct uat ions are unavoidable. The applicat ion of high oxygen concent rat ions (70 percent ) could,
however, overcome t he disadvant ages of low oxygen modified at mosphere packaging, for some
ready-t o-eat veget ables. High levels of oxygen are part icularly effect ive in inhibit ing enzymat ic
discolorat ion, prevent ing anaerobic ferment at ion react ions and in inhibit ing microbial growt h. It
has b een hyp ot hesi zed t hat hi gh oxygen l evel s may cause sub st rat e i nhi b i t i on of PPO, or
alt ernat ively, t hat high levels of colourless quinones subsequent ly formed may cause feedback
inhibit ion of PPO.
Heat treatment: Heat t reat ment s have been not ed t o improve t issue firmness in fresh-cut fruit s
such as apples slices (Kim et al. 1993) and mango cubes (Banj ongsinsiri et al. 2004; Trindade et al.
2003; Kim et al. 1993) found t hat heat ing whole apples at 45ºC every 30 minut es for a t wo-hour
period before slicing improved t he t ext ure of apple slices as compared t o unt reat ed apples, but
t his improvement depended upon t he cult ivar.
A 90-second heat -shock at 104ºF (45ºC) prevent ed wound-induced browning of iceberg let t uce
(Loaiza-Velarde et al. 1997; Loaiza-Velarde and Salt veit 2001; Salt veit 2000). A low heat t reat ment
t o act ivat e t he enzyme pect inest erase prior t o a CaCl
2
dip was helpful in preserving fresh-cut fruit
t ext ure. Pect inest erase is known t o de-est erify pect in, t hereby increasing t he number of calcium
binding sit es (Garcia and Barret 2002).
36
37
Chapt er VI
PRACTICAL ASPECTS OF FRESH-CUT PROCESSING
1. The fresh-cut chain: harvest to market
When prepari ng f resh-cut f rui t s and veget abl es and root crops, t he key st eps of t he chai n:
harvest ing, receiving, pre-cooling, washing and disinfect ing, peeling and t rimming, cut t ing int o
speci f i c si zes, sor t i ng for def ect s, washi ng and cool i ng, packagi ng/ l abel l i ng and st orage and
dist ribut ion. A t ypical flow chart of act ivit ies in t he chain is shown in Figure 4.1.
Harvesting
Individuals engaged in fresh produce harvest ing must be t rained in t he select ion of fresh produce
of sound qualit y. Produce must be handled in such a way as t o avoid damage and cont aminat ion.
Handl ers must ensure t hat onl y t he best qual i t y produce i s sel ect ed for f resh-cut processi ng.
Management shoul d sup p l y al l t he equi p ment needed t o mi ni mi ze damage of f rui t s and
veget ables during harvest , for example sharp harvest ing knives, bags and padded boxes. Workers
must wear clean clot hes and observe sanit ary measures.
Mechanical harvest ers are used in large operat ions t o t ake handling closer t o t he source in t he
field, improving shelf-life and maint aining produce qualit y.
Plate 6.1 In-field processing of fresh-cut vegetables
(Images used wit h permission from Boskovich farms Inc., www.boskovichfarms.com)
38
Receiving at the processing facility
The receiving point for fresh fruit s and veget ables in a fresh-cut processing plant is a key qualit y
check-poi nt t hat shoul d be moni t ored cl osel y. Empl oyees recei vi ng produce shoul d check for
defect s and make not e of any problems t hat can be relayed t o t he grower. At t his point a decision
can be made on whet her or not t o process t he produce. Large processing operat ions have a list
of qual i t y paramet ers and measurement s t hat are recorded when fresh produce arri ves at t he
processing facilit y. An invent ory of st ocks begins wit h receipt of t he produce. Large processing
facilit ies usually have an enclosed, refrigerat ed dock facilit y for receiving produce.
Table 6.1 shows an example of a qualit y assurance (QA) checklist for raw mat erial received at t he
fresh-cut processing plant . Recording as much informat ion about t he produce as possible would
hel p t o t race i t back t o t he f i el d i n t he event of a food cri si s. Thus f i el d number, har vest crew,
vehicle regist rat ion and ot her informat ion can be recorded when produce is received at t he back
door of a fresh-cut processing plant .
Table 6.1 Quality Assurance checklist for raw commodities received at the packing house
Harvest area
Date/ time:
(number/ field#):
Harvest crew: Supervisor:
Vehicle
Bin label:
registration:
Commodit y Parameter Result Specifications
Corrective
Initials
actions
Size
Brix
Colour
Acidit y
Defect s
Temperat ure
Pre-cooling
Ideal l y, produce shoul d be cool ed t o remove fi el d heat pri or t o st orage or processi ng. Cool i ng
ext ends t he shelf-life of t he final fresh-cut product . Large fresh-cut processing operat ions make
use of any of a number of t echnologies such as chilled wat er bat hs, forced air cooling, vacuum
cooling and packing wit h ice-wat er mixt ures, for removing field heat from fresh produce.
While small operat ions may not be able t o afford expensive cooling equipment , st oring produce
in a refrigerat ed area is adequat e for cooling small quant it ies of produce. Care should be t aken t o
not e t emperat ures below which chilling inj ury of various fruit s and veget ables would t ake place.
While t his research has been conduct ed for many t emperat e produce it ems, it is st ill not widely
known for some t ropical fruit and veget ables.
39
In t act f r esh p r od u ce sh ou l d b e seg r eg at ed i n a smal l col d st or ag e ar ea t o avoi d cr oss
cont ami nat i on b et ween i t and t hat whi ch has b een p re-cut and washed. St af f shoul d use
a First -in, First -out (FIFO) policy for managing st ock rot at ion.
Washing and disinfection
It i s i mport ant t o wash produce as soon as possi bl e af t er harvest t o remove damaged t i ssues.
Wat er flumes and t anks are used in large operat ions t o wash fresh produce prior t o cut t ing and
t ri mmi ng (Pl at e 6.2). Pot abl e wat er i s a key requi rement for washi ng i n order t o precl ude t he
t ransfer of cont aminat ion from wat er t o t he produce.
Plate 6.2 Water flume for washing and transporting fruit in a large packing house
(Image used wit h permission from Boskovich farms Inc., www.boskovichfarms.com)
Many l arge f resh-cut processi ng operat i ons t reat and recycl e wat er t o conser ve t hi s preci ous
commodit y. Care must be t aken in recycling wat er so as not t o present a new risk of increased
microorganisms. Recycled wat er must be cont inuously t reat ed and monit ored. In sit uat ions where
t he organic mat erial in wash wat er increases, t he ant imicrobial agent HOCl loses it s effect iveness
in maint aining wat er qualit y.
In ver y smal l operat i ons, washi ng i n a si nk or under a t ap wi t h runni ng wat er i s appropri at e.
Produce may also be washed at a small scale in large shallow t anks t hat allow operat ors t o move
t he produce freely t hrough t he wat er. In sit uat ions where concret e t anks are used t hey should
ideally be t iled. Frequent changes of wash wat er are needed in order t o effect ively remove soil and
ot her foreign mat t er from t he produce. A bet t er met hod is t o cont inuously circulat e wash wat er
t hrough a filt er. Ideally several t anks should be used for washing operat ions. The first t ank should
be used for t he removal of heavy soiling and subsequent cleaner t anks wit h chlorinat ed wat er
should be used for final washing.
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Large fresh-cut processing plant s make use of cont inuous washers (Plat e 6.3). In such sit uat ions,
a movi ng conveyor p i cks up t he p rod uce and car r i es i t und er p ower f ul sp r ays of wat er.
Recirculat ion t hrough a filt er reduces overall wat er consumpt ion. The t emperat ure, cont act t ime,
pH and chlorine concent rat ion should be monit ored for t heir effect iveness during washing. The
measurement of ORP can also be used t o monit or t he disinfect ant level in wash wat er.
Plate 6.3 Continuous washing of pre-cut lettuce
(Image used wit h permission from Boskovich farms Inc., www.boskovichfarms.com)
For veget able wash wat er t he following paramet ers may be used: t emperat ure (0-5
o
C), pH (4.5-5.5),
chl ori ne concent rat i on (50-100 ppm), ORP (650-750 ppm). Duri ng t he washi ng process any
defect ive produce must be removed and discarded.
Peeling, trimming and deseeding
In small processing plant s, knives are used t o t rim and peel fresh produce. Large processing plant s
make use of abrasive peelers and aut omat ed t rimmers t o accelerat e t he process. Available funding
would det ermine whet her a small processor could use t echnically advanced peelers and t rimmers
duri ng operat i ons. Aut omat ed peel ers wi t h abrasi ve rol l ers are used i n some l arge processi ng
plant s for peeling pot at oes and carrot s. Machinery has been designed for specific high volume
crops, i ncl udi ng t he use of hi gh pressure ai r and l ye and st eam for peel i ng. However, for smal l
operat ions, hand peeling is adequat e (Plat e 6.4).
Cutting operations
Produce may eit her be chopped, sliced, shredded, peeled, diced or sect ioned. These operat ions are
done mainly by hand in many small-scale operat ions. The dimensions of t he finished product are
det ermined by t he end use ident ified for each produce it em. Chopping boards and knives are used
t o creat e t he desired size and shape for finished product s. Research has shown t hat using a sharp
41
knife reduces physical damage t o cut fruit s and veget ables in t hat less st ress is observed in t he
cells of produce cut wit h a sharp knife. St aff should ensure all knives and chopping boards are
cleaned and sanit ized before use so as t o minimize t he pot ent ial for cont aminat ion. Good Hygienic
Pract ice (GHP) must be st rict ly observed during cut t ing operat ions.
Employees involved wit h cut t ing operat ions should be properly at t ired wit h prot ect ive clot hing,
i ncl udi ng gl oves, ap rons and hai r net s. They shoul d b e wel l t rai ned i n t he p rep ar at i on of
product s t o mi ni mi ze damage. Product s shoul d recei ve mi ni mal handl i ng t o avoi d brui si ng
and cont ami nat i on due t o excessi ve handl i ng. What ever t he met hod of cut t i ng, t he si zi ng of
t he produce must be uni form; gi ven t hat non-uni forml y si zed product s are not appeal i ng t o
consumers.
Plate 6.5 Workers in complete food safet y attire
(Image used wit h permission from Boskovich farms Inc., www.boskovichfarms.com)
Plate 6.4 Workers preparing and sorting cut fruit
(Court esy of A. Hicks)
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Sorting for defects
Defect ive product s may also hast en spoilage and decrease shelf-life. Removal of defect s improves
uniformit y of t he finished fresh-cut product and enhances shelf-life.
Rinsing of pre-cut fruits and vegetables
It is recommended t hat only wat er of t he highest qualit y be used for t he final rinse of pre-cut fruit s
and veget abl es. Many operat i ons i nj ect chl ori ne as a di si nfect ant al ong wi t h aci d i n order t o
mai nt ai n a pH range of 4.5-5.5 and t o assure t he ef fect i veness of chl ori ne. Measurement and
recordi ng of t he chl ori ne l evel and t he pH of wash wat er i s t herefore a cri t i cal el ement of any
qualit y assurance programme. Ice used for reducing t he t emperat ure of wat er should be rout inely
t est ed in order t o ensure t hat it is not a source of cont aminat ion.
Dipping
Produce can be opt ionally dipped in a solut ion of an acidulant / ant ioxidant blend consist ing of
a combi nat i on of ascorbi c aci d/ ci t ri c aci d for exampl e, or i n an ant i -sof t eni ng agent such as
calcium chloride.
Drying
Excess wat er or l i qui d associ at ed wi t h t he produce must be removed pri or t o packagi ng of
fresh-cut product s. Wat er in t he finished product encourages mould growt h and t he growt h of
ot her microorganisms result ing in rapid det eriorat ion of t ext ure. Various manual and mechanical
met hod s have b een d evel op ed f or t he r emoval of excess wat er f rom f r esh-cut f rui t s and
veget ables. These include:
Use of conveyor shakers t o remove wat er t hrough a mesh. The cut fruit or veget able
vibrat es on t he conveyor mesh.
Air drying on conveyors wit h forced air or polar wind used t o blow excess wat er off t he
surface of t he wet produce.
Spin-drying basket s, bot h aut omat ed and manual, t hat make use of cent rifugat ion t o
remove excess wat er.
Packaging/ labeling
Packaging facilit at es t he delivery of fresh-cut product s of good qualit y t o t he consumer. Packaging
prot ect s product s from physical damage and prevent s physical and microbiological cont aminat ion.
Packaging can on some occasions, as in t he case of MA, delay spoilage of product s. Cut fruit s and
veget ables det eriorat e more rapidly t han int act or packaged product s.
At t ent i on must be p ai d t o t he comp at i b i l i t y of p roduce, where mi xed f rui t and veget ab l e
combinat ions are packaged. Et hylene-sensit ive and et hylene-producing fruit s should not be mixed,
as t his could result in wat er soaking and rapid det eriorat ion of et hylene-sensit ive produce.
Packaging format s for fresh-cut fruit s and veget ables (Plat e 6.6) include plast ic bags, t hermoformed
cont ai ners wi t h f i l m over wraps and ri gi d pl ast i c cont ai ners. Packs are f i l l ed by hand i n smal l
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(1) Leafy Veget ables packaged in breat hable bags (Cour t esy of V. Chonhenchob, Kaset sar t Uni versi t y)
(2) Clamshell tray with hinge interlock (Court esy of V. Chonhenchob, Kaset sart Universit y) (3) Clear PET tray
with an overwrap film (Court esy of V. Chonhenchob, Kaset sart Universit y) (4) Zip lock bags used in small-scale
operations (Court esy of A. Hicks)
operat ions, while aut omat ed equipment is used in larger operat ions. A met al det ect or is generally
posit ioned at t he end of t he line in aut omat ed operat ions and bags of product s pass t hrough t he
det ect or as a cont rol measure t o t est for met al cont ami nant s. Fi ni shed product cont ai ners are
labelled wit h a ‘Use By’ dat e t o alert cust omers of t he opt imum product shelf-life. Ot her company
codes may be print ed on t he package.
MAP reduces t he respirat ion rat e of produce and t hus slows t he rat e of spoilage. In addit ion, it
creat es anaerobic condit ions or high carbon dioxide and low oxygen levels in t he pack, t o ext end
fresh produce shelf-life. Orient ed polypropylene (OPP) is generally used in t he MAP of fresh-cut s.
Ot her packaging films used include perforat ed, t hin, low densit y polyet hylene (LDPE), monolayer
polyvinylchloride (PVC) and et hylene vinyl acet at e.
Plate 6.6 Examples of packaging used for fresh-cut fruits and vegetables
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
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2. Managing and measuring qualit y during fresh-cut operations
Consumer accept ance of f resh-cut produce i s i nf l uenced by col our, t ext ure, aroma and t ast e.
Convenience is a maj or reason for t he procurement of fresh produce by consumers. Consumers
choose fresh-cut s based on freshness, price and packaging. Their eat ing experience (aroma, t ast e,
t ext ure) det ermines whet her consumers will cont inue t o purchase such product s.
Qualit y parameters for fresh-cut lettuce
Fresh appearance;
No decay; no cont aminat ion;
No discolorat ion;
Crisp t ext ure;
Good aroma and flavour.
A well-managed qualit y assurance programme should be developed t o ensure t hat only t he finest
qualit y product leaves t he fresh-cut processing plant . Management must develop specificat ions
for t he product at every st age of t he fresh-cut processing chain: raw mat erials, in-process product s
and finished product s. Monit oring programmes for st orage and t ransport (t emperat ure, relat ive
humidit y et c.) should also be developed. When raw mat erial ent ers t he plant , it s qualit y det ermines
t he qualit y of t he final product . Qualit y assurance findings should be document ed and correct ive
act ions t aken if product s do not conform t o specificat ions.
Quality assurance systems
Product qual i t y i s a pri me cri t eri on for gai ni ng access t o compet i t i ve market s. Qual i t y cont rol
ensures t hat raw mat erials and finished product s are handled, st ored, processed or packaged t o
t he required qualit y st andards. The fundament al purpose of a qualit y assurance programme is t o
have t imely and dependable informat ion on all t he at t ribut es of a product which affect it s qualit y.
The basic funct ions of a qualit y assurance programme include:
Physical, chemical and sensory evaluat ion of raw mat erials and fresh-cut product s;
In-process cont rol of raw mat erials and fresh-cut product s:
● raw mat erials, ingredient s and packaging supplies
● processing paramet ers
● finished product s
Microbiological analysis and cont rol of raw mat erials and finished product s;
Cont rol of st orage and handling condit ions;
Cont rol of sanit at ion and wast e product s;
Assurance t hat final product s are wit hin t he est ablished legal and market ing st andards.
Qualit y as a synonym for food safet y can be used as a t ool for market ing fresh-cut product s in
count ri es wi t h hi gh food safet y st andards. Product qual i t y can be mai nt ai ned t hroughout t he
supply chain by applying good pract ice. Met hods for measuring each qualit y paramet er should
45
be clearly out lined, for example inst rument at ion and t est ing procedure. St aff should be assigned
t o monit or qualit y and t o record t he result s of qualit y checks in daily log sheet s. Management
should verify daily log sheet s t o ensure t hat only product s t hat meet specificat ions are packaged.
Raw mat erial qualit y assessment s might include:
Measurement of t he sugar cont ent (degrees Brix);
Measurement of t he pH and organic acid cont ent ;
Pressure t est ing t o assess sof t ness;
Measurement of t he colour at harvest ;
Observat ion for defect s; and
Verificat ion t hat t he product ’s shape is ideal for processing.
In-process qualit y measurement s include measurement s t o ensure:
Size of fresh-cut pieces are wit hin specificat ion;
Product s are mixed in correct proport ions, if applicable;
Product s are free from excess wat er – measure t he spin-drying cycle; and
Product t emperat ure is cool enough t o promot e product qualit y – measure and record
t emperat ure in t he process.
Finished product qualit y measurement s include assessment of :
Packaging int egrit y;
Average weight of packages;
Label print ing;
Best Before/ Use by dat es and product ion dat es are correct on t he label; and
The package t emperat ure is adequat e t o sust ain qualit y.
3. Managing and maintaining quality during marketing
Fresh-cut fruit produce t hat is not produced on sit e is eit her t ransport ed on ice or in refrigerat ed
t rucks. Ai r t ranspor t at i on i s used where market s are di st ant , pri mari l y overseas market s. The
fresh-cut product s are normally t ransport ed in closed cont ainers or net t ed/ st ret ched film-wrapped
pallet loads. The pot ent ial for t emperat ure abuse and losses in qualit y are high during market ing
and are a crit ical considerat ion.
Qualit y loss is a funct ion of bot h t ime and t emperat ure. If product s are neglect ed, even for short
periods at high t emperat ures during loading and off-loading, t he shelf-life is reduced. Refrigerat ion
removes excess heat and facilit at es t emperat ure cont rol for fresh-cut produce during st orage and
t ransport at ion. Maint aining t he ‘Cold Chain’ is t he key t o delivering wholesome fresh-cut product s
t o t he end user.
Fresh-cut fruit s must be st ored at t he lowest t emperat ure possible t o maint ain t heir freshness and
minimize losses. In view of t he fact t hat fresh-cut product s are under severe physical st ress during
46
processi ng, t hey shoul d be hel d at a l ower t emperat ure t han t hat recommended f or uncut
commodi t i es. The opt i mal st orage t emperat ure for f resh-cut produce i s, i n general , set as t he
minimum required t o minimize microbial growt h while prevent ing chilling inj ury.
Relat ive humidit y (% RH) is an indicat ion of t he balance bet ween t he wat er evaporat ed from t he
st ored produce and it s removal from t he air by evaporat ing fans of t he refrigerat ion syst em. RH
levels of 80 t o 90 percent are generally recommended t o prevent a build-up of condensat ion t hat
at t ract s mould and mildew in t he cold room. Fact ors t o consider when st oring produce are t he
quant it y of product t o be st ored; t he t ype and met hod of packaging; st acking pat t erns t o promot e
air circulat ion, air mot ion; syst em running t ime; and t he power of t he refrigerat ion unit . A st ill cold
st orage would t ake a longer t ime t o cool product s t han one wit h fans t o keep air circulat ing.
4. Assuring safety in the fresh-cut processing chain
Fresh-cut produce i s hi ghl y vul nerabl e t o cont ami nat i on duri ng processi ng. Ever y ef fort must ,
t herefore, be made t o minimize t he risk of cont aminat ion in t he producer–consumer chain. Fact ors
in minimizing risk in t he product ion–consumpt ion chain are summarized below:
Harvesting and post-harvest handling
Cleaning and sanit izing harvest ing equipment ;
Excluding wild birds and animals from packing houses;
Avoiding cross cont aminat ion during delivery t o t he processor; and
Minimizing cut t ing and bruising.
Fresh-cut processing
A programme for sanit izing surfaces and machines;
Good preliminary decont aminat ion and inspect ion;
Avoiding severe peeling/ cut t ing;
Eliminat ing/ minimizing human cont act wit h processed product s;
Effect ive washing/ ant i-microbial dipping; and
Avoiding post -dipping cont aminat ion.
Packaging/ distribution/ retail
Careful select ion of packaging mat erial;
Monit oring microbial qualit y of packaged product s;
Ensuring t hat t he t emperat ure is <4ºC;
Modest shelf-life labeling:
Suit ably-designed vehicles
Proper vehicle loading pract ices;
Chill cabinet loading; and
Educat ion of ret ailer and consumer.
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5. HACCP for effective running of a fresh-cut plant
From 1988 t o t he present day, HACCP principles have been promot ed and incorporat ed int o food
safet y legislat ion in many count ries around t he world. The approach was originally derived from
Engineering Syst em’s – ‘Failure Mode and Effect Analysis’. It was furt her developed by Pillsbury/
NASA for t he American Space Programme. HACCP reduced t he risk of ast ronaut s suffering from
t he effect s of consuming cont aminat ed food whilst in space. It is a food safet y met hodology t hat
relies on t he ident ificat ion of Crit ical Cont rol Point s (CCPs) in food product ion and preparat ion
processes. Closely monit ored CCPs will ensure t hat food is safe for human consumpt ion.
HACCP is used t o avoid t he ant iquat ed approach of t est ing t he finished product wit hout knowing
t he risks involved in preparat ion.
The HACCP syst em consist s of seven principles:
Principle 1: Conduct a hazard analysis. Three main cat egories of hazards: biological, chemical
and physical, may affect product s. Management should det ermine t he food safet y hazards
and i dent i f y t he prevent i ve measures t hat can be appl i ed by t he pl ant t o cont rol t hese
hazards.
Principle 2: Ident ify CCPs, t he st eps or procedure in a food process at which cont rol can be
applied. The result is prevent ion of a food safet y hazard or reduct ion t o an accept able level.
Principle 3: Est ablish crit ical limit s for each CCP. A crit ical limit is t he maximum or minimum
val ue t o whi ch a physi cal , bi ol ogi cal or chemi cal hazard must be cont rol l ed at a cri t i cal
cont rol point t o prevent , eliminat e or reduce t o an accept able level.
Principle 4: Est ablish CCP monit oring requirement s. Monit oring act ivit ies are necessary t o
ensure t hat t he process is under cont rol at each crit ical cont rol point .
Principle 5: Est abl i sh correct i ve act i ons. These are act i ons t o be t aken when moni t ori ng
indicat es a deviat ion from an est ablished crit ical limit . The final rule requires a plant ’s HACCP
plan t o ident ify t he correct ive act ions t o be t aken if a crit ical limit is not met . Correct ive
act ions are int ended t o ensure t hat no product injurious t o healt h or ot herwise adult erat ed
as a result of t he deviat ion, ent ers commerce.
Principle 6: Est abl i sh record-keepi ng procedures – a wri t t en HACCP pl an and records
document ing t he monit oring of crit ical cont rol point s, crit ical limit s, verificat ion act ivit ies and
t he handling of processing deviat ions.
Principle 7: Est ablish procedures for ensuring t hat t he HACCP syst em is working as int ended.
Val i dat i on ensures t hat t he pl ans do what t hey were desi gned t o do; t hat i s, t hey are
successful in ensuring t he product ion of safe product s. Plant s will be required t o validat e
t heir own HACCP plans. Verificat ion ensures t hat t he HACCP plan is adequat e and is working
as int ended. Verificat ion procedures may include such act ivit ies as a review of HACCP plans,
CCP records, crit ical limit s and microbial sampling and analysis.
48
In developing an HACCP plan, t he whole process must be evaluat ed for possible risks. A HACCP
flow chart would show t he CCPs and a decision-making t ree would be used t o det ermine which
hazard may act ually be cont rolled and measured. Figure 6.1 shows t he t ypical HACCP flow chart
for a fresh-cut fruit processing operat ion. CCPs of final rinse wat er and met al det ect ion can be
monit ored and cont rolled if t hey are out of specificat ion. This is t he requirement for a hazard t o
qualify as a CCP.
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Chapt er VII
EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR
FRESH-CUT PROCESSING
Fresh-cut processing can be performed at different scales of operat ion. Regardless of t he scale of
operat ion, individuals engaged in fresh-cut processing should be properly at t ired wit h prot ect ive
clot hing, including gloves, aprons and hair net s. They should be well t rained in t he preparat ion of
product s t o minimize damage, excessive handling and cont aminat ion.
Equipment must be cleanable, properly maint ained and sanit ized prior t o use. Surfaces t hat come
in cont act wit h t he food must be non-t oxic, non-react ive wit h t he produce, non-cont aminat ing t o
t he produce, non-corrosive and cleanable. St ainless st eel of t he 300 series is preferred for food
cont act surfaces (Turat t i 2007).
1. Equipment for fresh-cut processing
Equipment for fresh-cut processing should be designed and const ruct ed such t hat it is easy t o
clean and maint ain, t hus minimizing t he pot ent ial for microbial cont aminat ion of t he fresh-cut
product .
The USFDA recommends t he use of smoot h, non-absorbent , seal ed and easi l y cl eanabl e food
cont act sur f aces t hat are sl oped t o drai n f reel y and made of durabl e, non-corrosi ve, non-t oxi c
mat erials for fresh-cut processing. Food cont act surfaces include it ems such as knives, conveyors,
belt s, chut es, product t ot es, gloves, t ools including shovels and racks, cut t ing boards, t ables, driers
and spi nner basket s as wel l as packi ng scal es. Al l food cont act sur f aces shoul d be smoot hl y
bonded (i.e. free of pit s, folds, cracks, crevices, open seams, cot t er pins, exposed t hreads and hinges)
t o avoid harbouring pat hogens. Where t wo food cont act surfaces meet , a cover over t he j unct ure
should be used t o prevent food debris from collect ing in t he crevice and creat ing an area t hat is
difficult t o clean.
Equipment for small-scale manual operations
Requi rement s for a smal l processi ng pl ant i ncl ude sharpened kni ves, pl ast i c cut t i ng boards,
st ainless st eel or plast ic bowls and t ubs for st oring t rimmed product s prior t o cut t ing or packaging
(Plat e 7.1). These simple kit chen ut ensils are easy t o obt ain.
50
Mechanical equipment for the processing of fresh-cut leafy vegetables
Many fresh-cut processing plant s for leafy veget ables use aut omat ed equipment for all st ages of
fresh-cut processing. These include t he following it ems of equipment :
Product bin dumpers (Plat e 7.2);
Elevat or belt conveyors;
Aut omat ic sort ing machines;
Abrasive peelers or high pressure wat er peelers;
Trans-slicers or ot her cut t ing machines (Plat e 7.3);
Cont inuous washing conveyors (Plat e 7.4);
Spin driers, air driers, shakers (Plat e 7.5);
Form-fill-seal packaging machines;
Weighing, labelling, coding machines (Plat e 7.6);
Boxing and pallet izing machines;
Met al det ect ors (Plat e 7.7).
Plate 7.1 Standard kitchen equipment for the small fresh-cut processor
Veget able peeler ‘Y’ peeler Kit chen scissors
Salad spinner St ainless st eel bowl Fruit corer
Choppi ng board Kni fe sharpener Veget abl e kni fe
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Plate 7.2 Product bin dumper
(Image publ i shed wi t h permi ssi on of
Boskovich Farms, Inc., California, USA.
www.boskovichfarms.com)
Plate 7.3 Product cutting and slicing machine
(Images published wit h permission of Boskovich Farms, Inc., California, USA.
www.boskovichfarms.com)
Plate 7.4 Continuous product
washing flume
(Image publ i shed wi t h permi ssi on of
Boskovich Farms, Inc., California, USA.
www.boskovichfarms.com)
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Plate 7.7 Metal detectors
(Image published wit h permission of Boskovich Farms, Inc., California, USA. www.boskovichfarms.com)
Plate 7.6 Auto scale with form-fill-seal packaging unit
(Image published wit h permission of Boskovich Farms, Inc., California, USA. www.boskovichfarms.com)
Plate 7.5 Centrifugal driers
(Image published wit h permission of Boskovich Farms, Inc., California, USA. www.boskovichfarms.com)
53
2. Maintenance of equipment
Est ablishment of a prevent ive maint enance programme helps t o ensure proper funct ioning of all
eq ui p men t . Fai l ur e of eq ui p men t d ur i n g p r od uct i on may i n cr ease t h e r i sk of mi cr ob i al
cont aminat ion, part icularly from L. monocyt ogenes.
Prevent ive maint enance includes t he periodic examinat ion and maint enance of equipment such
as valves, gasket s, O-rings, pumps, screens, filt ers and heat exchanger plat es. Appropriat e act ion
pl ans shoul d be devel oped by smal l processers i n t he event of mal f unct i oni ng of i mpor t ant
equipment , such as refrigerat ion equipment , disinfect ant delivery syst ems, power syst ems or alarm
syst ems. The following pract ices are also recommended:
Mai nt enance and cal i b r at i on of eq ui p ment b y ap p r op r i at el y t r ai ned p er sonnel .
Mai nt enance personnel who work i n t he processi ng or packagi ng areas shoul d be
knowledgeable of, and comply wit h t he hygiene requirement s for product ion st aff.
Frequent sharpeni ng of kni ves, i f used, i ncl udi ng ret ract abl e kni ves, and di si nfect i ng
t hem prior t o use. Knives should be replaced if damaged or if t hey cannot ot herwise be
maint ained in a sanit ary condit ion.
Frequent ly inspect ing cut t ing blades and belt s during processing operat ions for damage,
product residue build-up or cleaning needs. Blades should be removed and separat ely
cleaned. Remaining equipment part s must be disassembled (if possible) and cleaned on
a regular basis.
Inst allat ion, calibrat ion and maint enance of t emperat ure measuring or recording devices
t o ensure t heir accuracy.
Operat i ng of met al det ect ors i n accordance wi t h manuf act urers’ i nst ruct i ons and
checking for proper funct ioning at least on a daily basis t o ensure effect ive det ect ion of
met als and removal of affect ed product s. Procedures should be in place, such as t he use
of met al det ect ors duri ng packagi ng operat i ons, t o mi ni mi ze t he possi bi l i t y of met al
ent ering finished product packages.
Calibrat ion of safet y cont rol devices t hat are essent ial for maint aining t he proper level
an d act i vi t y o f w ash w at er d i si n f ect an t , at a f r eq u en cy r eco mmen d ed b y t h e
manufact urer and document at ion of t his act ivit y on inst rument calibrat ion forms/ logs.
Examinat ion of air filt ers for bot h int ake air and compressed air and changing at least
as of t en as t he manufact urer specifies, or more frequent ly if a problem is indicat ed, such
as evidence of filt er fouling or per forat ion.
3. Equipment suppliers
Equi pment has been devel oped over t he past decade speci f i cal l y t o meet t he needs of t he
fresh-cut produce indust ry. Many companies in Europe and t he Unit ed St at es sell a wide range of
new and second-hand equipment and supply t echnical services for t he maint enance and running
of t he equipment . A few equipment suppliers are list ed below.
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Heinzen Manufacturing International (HMI)
Heinzen Manufact uring Int ernat ional
405 Mayock St
Gilroy, CA 95020, USA
Tel +(408)842-7233; E-mail: www.Heinzen.com
Heinzen Manufact uring Int ernat ional (HMI) is a full-service engineering and fabricat ion company
specializing in t he design, product ion and inst allat ion of food-processing equipment . HMI draws
upon a wide range of dept h and experience, from cust om-built fruit processing lines t o complet e
heavy const ruct i on proj ect s. Hei nzen Manuf act uri ng has been sat i sf yi ng cust omers for over
25 year s. HMI p roduces a r ange of p roduct s i ncl udi ng: aut o scal e equi pment , bi n dumper s,
chi l l i ng syst ems, conveyor s, cul l syst ems, cent r i f ugal dr i er s, f i l t er i ng syst ems, met al det ect or s,
pack-out equipment , plat forms, shakers, sizing equipment , slicing and cut t ing equipment and t rimming
l i nes.
Urschel Laboratories Ltd.
P.O. Box 2200,
2503 Calumet Ave., Valparaiso,
Indiana 46384-2200 USA
Tel +(219)464-4811; Fax +(219)462-3879; E-mail: www.urschel.com
Urschel Laborat ori es, Inc. i s a l eader i n t he desi gni ng, manuf act uri ng and sel l i ng of preci si on
food-processing equipment . This includes commercial pot at o chip slicers, cheese shredders, fruit
dicers, French fry cut t ers, meat dicers, peanut but t er mills, poult ry dicers, let t uce shredders and
ot her t ypes of size reduct ion equipment . Urschel®food-processing equipment is used by most
maj or food processors in t he Unit ed St at es and in over 100 count ries worldwide. Urschel updat es
manuf act ur i ng t echnol ogy b y i nt r od uci ng new sl i cer s and d i cer s, p r ovi d i ng sal es/ ser vi ce
worldwide.
Turatti Srl
Turat t i Srl Viale Regina Margherit a, 52
30014 Cavarzere Venezia It alia
Tel. +39 0426310731; Fax +39 0426310500; E-mail: www.t urat t i-na.com (Turat t i Nort h America)
Turat t i designs and manufact ures a wide range of machinery and equipment syst ems serving t he
ent ire food-processing indust ry. Wit h main offices in It aly, t heir product s are sold worldwide.
(Di scl ai mer: The ment i on of t hese suppl i ers i s for i nformat i on onl y as an exampl e; i t does not i mpl y
endorsement of t he companies’ product s and equipment t hey supply.)
55
Chapt er VIII
TRACEABILITY OF FRESH-CUT PRODUCTS
1. Traceabilit y in fresh-cut chains
According t o t he Codex Aliment arius, t raceabi l i t y or product t racing is “t he abilit y t o follow t he
movement of a food t hrough speci fi ed st ages of product i on, processi ng and di st ri but i on”. Thi s
definit ion encompasses t wo concept s: t racking, which refers t o t he abilit y t o det ermine in real t ime
t he exact locat ion and st at us of produce in t he logist ics chain; and t racing, which refers t o t he
abi l i t y t o reconst ruct t he hi st ori cal fl ow of produce based on records mai nt ai ned t hrough t he
chain. The object ives of a good t raceabilit y syst em should be t o improve supply management and
aid t racing of food safet y and qualit y paramet ers.
The benefit s of a well-run t raceabilit y programme include:
Improved efficiency at all levels wit hin a company t hus result ing in revenue generat ion.
The ease wi t h whi ch t he source of a safet y or qual i t y probl em can be i sol at ed and
managed.
Reduced risk of bad publicit y, lawsuit s and recalls.
Reduced risk of rej ect ion because unsafe product s are not shipped and are quarant ined
t hus cont ribut ing t o t he speed wit h which correct ive act ions is increased when food
safet y and qualit y problems are ident ified.
Informat ion ret rieval is facilit at ed during a product recall or food-borne illness out break.
Many large rest aurant chains and ret ailers now expect t heir suppliers t o creat e t raceabilit y syst ems.
These syst ems ar e ver i f i ed t hrough t hi rd p ar t y audi t s of t hei r over al l f ood saf et y syst em.
A t raceabilit y programme should record informat ion from t he field t o t he ret ail display. St ringent
legislat ion, consumer concerns about food safet y and growing pressure from ret ailers have forced
f ood manuf act urers t o l ook at ever y possi bl e means of ensuri ng t raceabi l i t y and ef f i ci ency
t hroughout t he supply chain.
2. Record keeping
Minimal farm informat ion t o be recorded for a t raceabilit y syst em includes:
Plot number or some form of ident ificat ion for land where t he crop is grown.
Records of Good Agricult ural Pract ice (GAP):
56
● pest icide applicat ion
● fert ilizer applicat ion
● irrigat ion and wat er t est ing
● land hist ory
● neighbouring land use.
Harvest crew records:
● records of t raining
● report s of illness.
Dat es of harvest :
● special condit ions during harvest .
Farm equi pment and t rucks used i n t he product i on and t ransport of fresh frui t s and
veget ables:
● name of driver
● vehicle regist rat ion number.
Minimal packing house or fresh-cut processing records t o be recorded for a t raceabilit y syst em,
include:
Qualit y assurance records of t he fresh commodit y on arrival at t he packing house or
processing facilit y.
Records on fresh-cut processing st aff :
● records of t raining
● records of illness.
Good manufact uring pract ice (GMP) records:
● records on sanit at ion
● records on pest cont rol
● records on equipment maint enance
● records of wat er t est s
● records of t emperat ure during processing.
In-process monit oring records of qualit y assurance.
Packaging ident ificat ion:
● supplier
● lot number
● dat e of int ake.
Dist ribut ion informat ion t o be recorded for a t raceabilit y syst em includes:
Vehicle ident ificat ion:
● vehicle t ype
● plat e number.
Cont ainer:
● t emperat ure
● cleanliness
● non-conformances.
57
Driver ident ificat ion:
● names and cont act numbers of drivers.
Shipping company:
● name, address and locat ion of company.
3. Monitoring traceability
In t he past , a t raceabilit y code would be writ t en or print ed on each box and depending on t he
clarit y of informat ion in t he code, a company could be cont act ed t o review informat ion associat ed
wit h it . Only limit ed informat ion would be cont ained in a hand-writ t en code, for example t he dat e
of harvest or perhaps t he lot number.
Bar coding has improved t he way product movement is managed. A unique bar code is prepared
for product s harvest ed on farm. This bar code st ores informat ion on t he grower, farm lot number,
day harvest ed and crop harvest ed. A bar code placed on a bin of fruit aft er harvest could t hen be
scanned at t he packing house at int ake. This code st ays wit h t he bin unt il it is repacked int o a ret ail
package. If product s were st ored before repackaging, t he warehouse management syst em would
assi st i n st ock rot at i on based on i nformat i on recei ved f rom t he bar code. When product s are
repacked int o consumer packages, a new bar code is placed on t he product t o assist in t racing
finished product s back t o t he field in case of an emergency.
The Uni form Code Counci l (UCC) t akes a gl obal l eadershi p rol e i n est abl i shi ng and promot i ng
mul t i -i ndust r y st andards f or product i dent i f i cat i on and rel at ed el ect roni c communi cat i on.
Int ernat ional st andards in bar coding include t he use of a Global locat ion number or GLN. This is
a n umb er t h at i d en t i f i es any l eg al , f un ct i on al or p hysi cal l ocat i on w i t h i n a b usi n ess or
organizat ional ent it y. The GLN cont ains 13 digit s, all of which must be processed. GLNs can be
present ed in bar code format and can be physically marked on t o t rade unit s in order t o ident ify
t he part ies (buyer or supplier) involved in t he t ransact ion.
Some sect ors of t he food i ndust r y have moved on t o t he new t echnol ogy of radi o f requency
ident ificat ion (RFID) syst ems. RFID is a t echnology t hat makes use of grain-sized comput er chips
t o t rack i t ems at a di st ance. Each t i ny chi p i s connect ed t o an ant enna t hat pi cks up si gnal s
beamed at i t f rom a reader devi ce. On pi cki ng up a si gnal , t he chi p communi cat es i t s uni que
ident ificat ion number t o t he reader device, allowing t he it em t o be remot ely ident ified. ‘Spy chips’
as t hey are somet imes referred t o, can beam back informat ion anywhere from a radius of a few
inches t o 30 feet (~10 met res) away.
Under t he USFDA Recording and Report ing Rule of t he Biot errorism Act , 2002, food companies
must provi de t he USFDA wi t h source dat a, i ncl udi ng i mmedi at e previ ous source (IPS) and
immediat e subsequent recipient (ISR) for every component of a food it em. Many companies have
devel oped sof t ware dat abases and i nformat i on syst ems wi t h t he abi l i t y t o st ore det ai l ed crop
hist ory and dist ribut ion dat a. European Union legislat ion for t raceabilit y will drive t he indust ry in
t he European Union even furt her t o develop adequat e informat ion syst ems.
58
4. Challenges for the fresh-cut produce industry
Capt uring a change in t he lot number of produce as it moves on a product ion line may prove
di f f i cul t . Fur t hermore, mi xed l ot s of product s i n a si ngl e package (a f rui t sal ad, f or exampl e),
complicat e t raceabilit y, part icularly if component s of t he mix are sourced from different growers.
In t he event of a crisis, large quant it ies of product s might have t o be recalled if t he sit uat ion is not
properly cont rolled.
Smal l producers on a l i mi t ed budget may not be abl e t o af ford bar codi ng syst ems. However,
a det ai l ed number codi ng syst em wi t h records t o support t raceabi l i t y coul d provi de suffi ci ent
informat ion in t he event of a crisis.
59
Chapt er IX
LAYOUT AND MAINTENANCE OF A FRESH-CUT
PROCESSING FACILITY
1. The fresh-cut processing plant
The t ype of bui l di ng i n whi ch food product s are manuf act ured and t he general l evel of pl ant
hygiene have a major influence on product qualit y. This Chapt er focuses on basic principles for t he
design of a small fresh-cut plant . Equipment layout , product flow and food safet y are described.
Ideally a food manufact urer should have a building const ruct ed specifically for t he purpose. Care
shoul d be t aken t o assure compl i ance wi t h GMP, i f an exi st i ng bui l di ng must be modi f i ed t o
accommodat e fresh-cut processing operat ions.
2. Choosing the site of a fresh-cut processing facilit y
The following issues must be considered when deciding on t he locat ion of a fresh-cut processing
facilit y:
Dist ance of t he facilit y from t he supply of raw mat erials;
Accessibilit y of t he processing facilit y;
Accessibilit y t o expect ed market s;
Availabilit y of local labour;
Environment in which t he plant is locat ed – is t he building sit uat ed in a clean area or
is it in t he vicinit y of an area wit h much dust , wast e or st agnant wat er?
Fresh fruit s and veget ables are bulky and spoil rapidly. It is t herefore best t o locat e t he plant close
t o t he area of product ion in order t o reduce t ransport and handling cost s. Excessive handling of
f resh produce resul t s i n i nj ur y, l eadi ng t o rapi d spoi l age. In vi ew of t he f act t hat market s for
fresh-cut fruit s and veget ables would most likely be locat ed in urban areas, t he plant should be
locat ed in t he vicinit y of a main road for easy access.
The fresh-cut processing facilit y should be locat ed on cleared ground, away from sources of insect s,
rodent s or foul odours. It should have a good supply of pot able wat er, and if required, a reliable
suppl y of el ect ri ci t y. A seal ed road shoul d be avai l abl e t o provi de access for del i ver y of raw
mat eri al s and packagi ng, and f or shi ppi ng of f resh-cut product s. Thi s road shoul d be wel l
connect ed t o t he major road net work. Good drainage of t he sit e from front t o back would be most
desirable.
60
3. Sanitation design of a processing facilit y for fresh-cut produce
The ext ernal and int ernal design of t he processing facilit y should facilit at e cleaning and prevent
product cont aminat ion. The surroundings of t he facilit y should be plant ed wit h grass t o serve as
an ef f i ci ent t rap for ai r-borne dust . The i nt ernal wal l s of t he bui l di ng shoul d be pl ast ered or
rendered wi t h concret e. The sur face fi ni sh of t he wal l s shoul d have no cracks or l edges, whi ch
could harbour dirt or insect s. The lower walls of t he int erior of t he plant should be t iled or paint ed
wit h wat er-proof gloss paint t o wit hst and splashing during equipment cleaning. The upper walls
should be paint ed wit h good qualit y emulsion paint .
Nat ural daylight is less cost ly t han elect ricit y. As far as possible, effor t s should be made t o use
nat ural light in t he building. The size of t he building and t he number of windows would depend
on t he l evel of i nvest ment avai l abl e for const ruct i on. St ore rooms do not need wi ndows, but
require vent ilat ion. All windows, vent s and fans should be screened in order t o prevent t he ent ry
of insect s, birds and rodent s. Buildings should be pest -proofed wit h no gaps under t he doors. The
floor should be curved t o meet t he walls in order t o prevent t he collect ion of dirt . Doors in t he
processing room should be kept closed unless t hey are fit t ed wit h t hin met al chains or plast ic
curt ains t o prevent t he ent ry of flies.
Operat ions must be kept sanit ary by cleaning up spills as soon as t hey occur and by washing t he
plant t horoughly at t he end of each day of product ion. Wire mesh should be placed over drains
t o prevent t he exit or ent ry of pest s. Washing and t oilet facilit ies must be provided for employees,
preferably in a separat e building. If t his is not possible, t wo closed doors are required bet ween t he
t oilet and t he processing area, t o prevent insect s and odours from ent ering t hat area.
Window ledges should be sloped in order t o prevent t hem from collect ing dust , dirt or old clot hes
t hat may be left t here by workers. All windows should be fit t ed wit h fly-proof mesh. At t ent ion must
be paid t o ot her point s t hrough which insect s, birds and rodent s can ent er t he processing room
or st ore-room. Gaps bet ween t he roof and t he walls and gaps in t he roof must be properly sealed.
Power l i nes must be f i t t ed wi t h sui t abl e di scs at l east 25 cent i met res i n di amet er i n order t o
preclude t he ent ry of rat s int o buildings.
Floors must be designed so t hat t hey drain efficient ly. One way t o facilit at e proper drainage is by
sloping all floors t oward a cent ral drainage channel. The drain should be covered wit h a removable
grat i ng t o f aci l i t at e cl eani ng. Drai ns are a f avouri t e ent r y p oi nt f or p est s such as rat s and
cockroaches and t hus drain out let s must be fit t ed wit h a removable mesh basket or somet hing
similar.
All elect ric power point s should be fixed at least 1-1.5 met res high on t he walls in order t o ensure
t hat t hey are not affect ed by washing operat ions; alt hough expensive, wat erproof power point s
are preferred in wet areas. Alt ernat ively, t hey may be suspended above t he machines t hey serve.
All 3-phase equipment should be inst alled by a compet ent elect rician. Good light ing should be
provided for t he working environment and any bulbs used should be prot ect ed from breakage
wit h a shat t erproof plast ic diffuser or sleeve covers.
61
Good vent ilat ion is essent ial and large mesh-covered windows, roof vent s and ceiling fans may be
used. A reliable supply of pot able wat er for cleaning equipment and for washing operat ions must
be ensured. In sit uat ions where wat er supplies are unreliable, st rat egies must be used t o overcome
wat er suppl y probl ems. A si mpl e doubl e-chambered hi gh-l evel wat er t ank can faci l i t at e wat er
purificat ion by t reat ing cloudy wat er wit h chlorine and allowing it t o set t le in one chamber of t he
t ank, while t he ot her chamber is being used.
The USFDA recommends t hat t he processing facilit y and it s st ruct ures (such as walls, ceilings, floors,
windows, doors, vent s and drains) be designed for easy cleaning and maint enance t o prot ect t he
product s from microbial, physical and chemical cont aminat ion.
Product cont aminat ion and cross-cont aminat ion wit hin t he plant can be minimized by designing
t he operat ion wit h sound const ruct ion mat erials and by managing t he flow of mat erial and people
t hrough t he plant . Air flow t hrough t he plant must also be managed. Good sanit at ion should be
monit ored from receipt of product s t hrough pre-cooling, fresh-cut processing, packing and st orage
operat ions. Buildings, fixt ures and equipment should be maint ained in a clean condit ion t hat will
prot ect fresh-cut produce from pot ent ial microbial, chemical and physical cont aminat ion.
The fol l owi ng addi t i onal recommendat i ons for bui l di ng desi gn are provi ded by t he USFDA
(FDA/ CFSAN 2007):
All ext erior doors and ent rances should be closed when not in use, ensuring an adequat e
seal when ext erior doors and ent rances are closed.
Wast e wat er should be prompt ly removed from t he processing area and collect ed in
a d esi g n at ed ar ea f o r p r i mar y t r eat men t t o p r even t p r o d u ct an d eq u i p men t
cont aminat ion.
Over h ead p i p el i n es sh o u l d b e avo i d ed as t h ey co u l d b e a so u r ce o f p r o d u ct
cont aminat ion by overhead condensat e. Cat ch pans may be used for overhead pipelines,
but t hey should be cleaned on a regular basis.
Const ruct i on mat eri al s made out of wood are not recommended f or food cont act
surfaces as t hey harbour microbes. Wood splint ers could also pose a physical hazard as
t hey could cont aminat e fresh-cut product s. Non-wooden const ruct ion mat erial like met al
or pl ast i c are recommended because t hey al so reduce t he pot ent i al f or mi crobi al
cont aminat ion.
Figure 9.1 shows t he basic areas of a fresh-cut processing plant t o allow for t he smoot h flow of
product s, mi ni mi zi ng cross-cont ami nat i on. Fi gure 9.2 desi gned by t he Uni t ed Fresh Frui t and
Veget able Associat ion in 2007 shows t he recommended design of a medium t o large plant for t he
flow of personnel, in order t o keep cross-cont aminat ion t o a minimum. Produce t herefore moves
t hrough t he facilit y from input where t here can be high levels of cont aminat ion t o out put where
cont aminat ion levels are lower.
62
(a) Two doors, one at either end to prevent cross-contamination
Raw mat erial Refrigerat ed Trimming High risk cut t ing Finished product
St orage Washing St orage
Drying Shipping
Packaging
Figure 9.1 Basic design of a small fresh-cut produce processing plant
(b) One door only for a one-room operation
Raw mat eri al
Cl eani ng/
t ri mmi ng
Cut t i ng/
washi ng
St orage Fi ni shed product Packi ng
Figure 9.2 An example of product/ personnel flow patterns in a fresh-cut processing
(Adapt ed from Unit ed Fresh Fruit and Veget able Associat ion UFFVA, 2007)
Raw product
cold st orage
Finished product
cold st orage
Refrigerat ed shipping
and receiving
cold st orage
Front Offices
Break room
Packaging end of
Product ion room
Raw preparat ion end
of product ion room
Supply area/ maint enance
QA Offices Toilet s
63
4. Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)
GMPs are syst ems put i n pl ace t o ensure t hat food prepared i n a pl ant i s sound and f ree of
cont aminat ion. GMPs include:
Food safet y programmes;
Management syst ems;
Pest cont rol programmes;
Operat ional met hods and personnel pract ices;
Maint enance for food safet y;
Cleaning pract ices.
GMPs are monit ored and audit ed by government agencies and privat e firms on behalf of ret ail
client s. Each agency should have developed rigorous st andards based on t he main GMP principles.
GMPs are a prerequisit e t o est ablishing an HACCP programme.
5. Cleaning practices for fresh-cut processing facilities
The overall cleanliness of a food-processing unit , however small, can have a maj or impact on t he
qualit y of finished product s. For example, part icles of food t hat are t rapped in t he corner of a t ank
or in a pipe, can allow t he growt h of microorganisms and t his can cause maj or cont aminat ion of
product s during processing on t he following day.
Management should develop t he following:
A mast er cleaning schedule for daily, weekly and deep cleaning act ivit ies.
Det ailed cleaning met hods for each t ype of equipment and for each area in and around
t he fresh-cut processing area.
Assignment and t raining of st aff in cleaning met hods and recording informat ion.
A successful sanit at ion programme is one in which st aff is well t rained in cleaning met hods and
is assigned specific responsibilit y for each area of t he processing facilit y.
6. Pest control for fresh-cut processing facilities
Pest s such as rodent s, birds and insect s are known t o harbour human pat hogens. Pest s can ent er
food packing and processing areas t hrough cracks and crevices, t hus rendering food suscept ible
t o cont aminat ion. A well-planned, prevent ive pest cont rol programme would help t o det er pest s
from t he food handling area.
Management is responsible for:
Pest proofing of all buildings t hat house food – all cracks and crevices must be sealed,
windows must be screened and t he perimet er of t he building must be kept clean and
clear
64
Conduct ing rout ine inspect ions for rodent s and flying insect s, and ot her pest s, wit h t he
use of prevent ive measures like rodent bait , bird t raps or mouse t raps.
Large processi ng f aci l i t i es general l y empl oy pest cont rol compani es on cont ract t o vi si t and
conduct rout i ne i nspect i ons of t he f aci l i t i es and t o prepare a repor t at each vi si t . In smal l
operat ions, one st aff member could be t rained in pest monit oring and cont rol so as t o facilit at e
t he conduct of regul ar i nspect i ons and recordi ng of i nformat i on. Mai nt ai ni ng cl ean, sani t ar y
surroundings helps in reducing t he risk of pest ent ry.
65
Chapt er X
EMERGING AND GROWING CONCERNS OF
THE FRESH-CUT PRODUCE INDUSTRY
Consumers in developed count ries are becoming increasingly concerned about t he condit ions
under which t heir food is grown and t ransport ed. A growing need for et hical food product ion,
t raceabilit y as well as preservat ion of t he environment has been voiced by consumer groups t o
creat e public awareness.
1. Carbon footprints of fresh-cut produce
The cost of food product ion is lower in developing count ries, where labour cost s are a fract ion of
t hose in t he developed world. Bananas are t ransport ed from Cent ral and Sout h America t o Europe
for consumpt i on on a year-round basi s. Ot her commodi t i es are shi pped or ai r-f rei ght ed over
t housands of miles t o provide food all year round. Developed count ries are not subject t o t he limit s
of seasonalit y because fresh produce can be sourced from many areas t o meet t heir needs for
year-round supply.
‘Food miles’ refer t o t he dist ance food t ravels from t he point of it s product ion unt il it reaches t he
consumer or end-user. The food miles creat ed by t ransport ing commodit ies over long dist ances
have raised alarm wit h some consumer groups and environment alist s, who believe t hat carbon
emissions impact t he environment (AEA 2005).
Food t ravels an est imat ed 30 billion kilomet res each year in t he Unit ed Kingdom. This est imat ed
di st ance i ncl udes t r avel of i mpor t s by b oat and ai r and t r ansp or t b y l or r i es and car s. The
t ransport at ion of food is responsible for t he Unit ed Kingdom adding nearly 19 million t onnes of
CO
2
t o t he at mosphere each year, cont ribut ing t o a huge ‘carbon foot print ’. Over 2 million t onnes
of t his CO
2
is produced simply by cars t ravelling t o and from shops.
One school of t hought is t hat choosing food t hat is locally produced and seasonal would reduce
t he di st ance over whi ch f ood must t ravel . Reduci ng t he number of f ood mi l es coul d have
a dramat i c ef fect gl obal l y on t he reduct i on of CO
2
emi ssi ons (Food Act i on 2005). However, i n
densely populat ed urban cent res wit h lit t le or no agricult ure, t he pract ice of local consumpt ion
would be very difficult t o implement .
Figure 10.1 shows an est imat e of t he food miles from t he CO
2
generat ed by t he food indust ry in
t he Unit ed Kingdom. One issue when calculat ing t hese figures was whet her t he CO
2
result ing from
t ranspor t duri ng i mport / expor t i s at t ri but ed t o t he i mpor t i ng or expor t i ng count r y. The graph
includes t ransport wit hin t he Unit ed Kingdom, but not overseas t ransport during import / export .
66
2. Waste management in fresh-cut processing
Anot her si gni f i cant concer n i n d evel op ed count r i es i s t hat of wast e management . Many
programmes are being developed t o recycle and sort t he enormous volumes of wast e generat ed
by consumers. The ‘Green Movement ’, as i t i s cal l ed i n some count ri es, educat es cust omers on
separat ing wast e – glass bot t les, paper, plast ic, organic mat t er – so t hat wast e may be recycled or
broken down for use as manure. Cardboard or paper packaging is preferred over plast ic packaging
because i t may be recycl ed and t he board reused t o form packagi ng. In f act pl ast i c i s equal l y
recyclable, if not more so.
In addit ion t here is t he wast e mat erial produced from t he processing of fresh-cut produce it self,
t he unwant ed mat erial t hat is peeled, t rimmed and cut from t he fresh fruit s and veget ables during
t hei r preparat i on i nt o f resh-cut product s. Fresh-cut product s must al so be di sposed of af t er
reaching t heir use-by dat es wit hout being bought or consumed in t ime. All of t hese wast es can
amount t o a huge cost for a count ry. In t he Unit ed Kingdom alone, t he volume of t his wast ed food
amount s t o about 6.7 million t onnes, which is disposed of in landfills each year. This food includes
packaged foods t hat have never been opened. A new st udy says t hat reducing t he wast e of food
in t he count ry could prevent 18 million t onnes of CO
2
-equivalent s from being emit t ed each year
– t he same as t aking one in five cars off Brit ish roads.
This food wast e might be convert ed int o biofert ilizer and renewable energy inst ead of sending it
t o landfills where it creat es met hane, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Figure 10.1 Food contributions to CO
2
emissions in the United Kingdom
(AEA 2005)
food
17%
non-food
83%
10%
6%
6%
40%
10%
6%
13%
9%
t ransport
(UK)
home food
relat ed
ret ail
cat ering
agricult ure
packaging
manufact uring
fert iliser
manufact ure
food
contribution of food to UN carbon dioxide emissions
67
3. Factors t hat influence fut ure growt h of t he t ropical fresh-cut produce
industry
Devel op ed count ri es are l eadi ng t he way i n i nnovat i on i n t he f resh-cut p roduce i ndust r y.
Government regulat ions, as well as large ret ail groups, are demanding higher st andards of sanit ary
design for processing plant s and packaged food. Aut omat ion and cust om-made equipment are
rapidly replacing hand-cut t ing operat ions.
Forei gn bodi es i n product s are bei ng removed usi ng aut omat ed det ect i on syst ems. Chl ori ne,
t radit ionally used as a disinfect ant in wash wat er, is being replaced by a host of ot her chemical
and non-chemical t reat ment s as t he by-product s of chlorine are t hought t o be cancer-forming.
Ret ai l ers demand a l onger shel f -l i fe and research i s progressi ng i n MAP and i n i deal st orage
condit ions t o prolong shelf-life.
Fut ure growt h and development of t he t ropical fresh-cut indust ry will hinge upon:
Principles and pract ice of fresh produce t raceabilit y;
Microbiological issues relat ed t o fresh produce;
Development s in t he packaging of fresh-cut produce;
Advances in sulphit e-replacement t echnologies for fresh-cut produce;
Safe and effect ive biocides for washing and decont aminat ion; and
Recovering value by reducing wast e in t he fresh-cut produce indust ry.
Al l of t hese concerns i n t he modern expor t market pose chal l enges whi ch must be met by
developing count ries.
68
69
Chapt er XI
PROCESSING AND PACKAGING OF TROPICAL FRESH-CUT
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES IN THAILAND
1. Fresh-cut produce
Fresh-cut produce has been market ed by st reet vendors i n Thai l and for many years. Fresh-cut
product s are wi del y sol d i n wet market s and are i ncreasi ngl y sol d i n supermar ket s across
Thai l and. A range of f resh-cut veget abl es, i ncl udi ng l eaf y veget abl es (basi l , unchoi , kal e et c.),
chilli, lemon grass, galangal, asparagus, baby corn, peanut sprout s and ready-t o-cook veget ables
is also export ed.
The fresh produce sect i ons of l arge Thai supermarket s cont ai n a myri ad of fresh and fresh-cut
f r ui t s and veget ab l es. A sur vey conduct ed
by Sa-nguanpuag et al . (2007) repor t ed t hat
f r esh - cu t veg et ab l es co mman d a l ar g er
market share t han f resh-cut f rui t s i n regul ar
and upscal e supermarket s. Thi s sur vey al so
det ermined t hat t he price of fresh-cut produce
was higher t han t hat of int act fresh produce.
Growt h in t he Thai fresh-cut indust ry has been
l arg el y d ue t o i ncr easi ng i ncomes and an
i ncreasi ng number of worki ng coupl es and
families who have lit t le t ime t o prepare t heir
meals from scrat ch.
Plate 11.1 Fresh-cut fruits on display in a high-end Thai supermarket
(Court esy of E. Esguerra, UPLB)
70
2. Processing of fresh-cut fruits
Fresh-cut f rui t s are produced at t he smal l vendor l evel , at t he supermarket l evel and by smal l
p rocessor s i n Thai l and. St ep s i n t he p rocesses var y i n accordance wi t h t he t arget mar ket
(Figure 11.1). Small vendors who t arget t he mass market , generally ret ain produce on ice, while
cut t ing on demand. Supermarket s on t he ot her hand, which t arget t he higher end consumer who
i s i ncreasi ngl y saf et y and qual i t y consci ous, cut and package f resh-cut f rui t s under hygi eni c
condit ions on a daily basis and display t hem on ice or under chilled condit ions. Small processors
who al so t arget supermar ket s and t he f ood ser vi ce sect or, of t en i ncl ude an ant i -browni ng
t reat ment as a processing st ep, given t he lag t ime bet ween product ion and market ing, and given
t he expect ed longer shelf-life of t heir product s.
Plate 11.2 Fresh-cut products sold in the fresh market in Bangkok
(Court esy of A. Hicks)
71
3. Processing of selected fresh-cut fruits for the export market
Fresh-cut papaya (Carica papaya)
Harvesting
Papaya should be harvest ed when approximat ely 75-80 percent of t he skin of t he fruit t urns yellow.
The fruit should be cut off t he t ree using scissors or a sharp knife. It is recommended t hat t he st em
be cut closer t o t he t ree t runk in order t o prevent damage t o t he fruit . The st em of t he harvest ed
fruit must subsequent ly be cut t o approximat ely 1 inch. Fruit s must be carefully packed in basket s
and t ransport ed t o t he processing facilit y.
Grading and sorting
Papaya must be sort ed for uniformit y of size and color, firmness, freedom from defect s such as skin
abrasions pit t ing, insect inj ury and freedom from decay.
Figure 11.1 Steps in the production of fresh-cut fruits in Thailand
for different target markets
Small Vendor
Fruit
Washing (no sanit izer)
Peel
Pre-cut and place on ice block
Cut on consumer demand
Transfer t o plast ic bag for sale
Supermarket
Fruit
Peel
Cut
Transfer t o st yrofoam t ray
Shrink wrap
Display in refrigerat ed cabinet
4-8ºC 1-2 days
Small Processor
Fruit
Wash and Sanit ize
Peel
Ant i-browning Treat ment
Shrink wrap
Slicing
Packaging
Dist ribut ion
72
Process Flow Chart for Fresh-cut Papaya
Raw mat erial receipt
Grading and sort ing Grade and sort for wholesomeness of fruit
Transfer t o clean basket
St orage for ripening St ore at room t emperat ure unt il fruit become all yellow
or at t ain required firmness
Inspect for fruit ripening When whole fruit become all yellow or are adequat ely
firm
Transfer t o washing t ank
Washing* Chlorinat ed wat er 100-200 ppm for 5 minut es
Inspect for free chlorine Free chlorine should be at a level of 50-80 ppm at t he
st ar t of w ash i n g. At en d of w ash i n g, t h e l evel of
remaining free chlorine should be in excess of 20 ppm.
Peeling Peel skin off wit h sharp knife
Cut t ing Cut int o half lengt hwise
Deseeding Scoop out t he seeds wit h a spoon
Cut t ing int o size Cut int o st rips or chunks in accordance wit h cust omer
requirement s
Trimming Trim off t he t issue underneat h t he seed
Pack Put in box wit h perforat ed seal lid
Check weight
Met al det ect ion*
St orage Put t ray int o a polyst yrene box wit h open lid. St ore in
cool st orage (5ºC)
Dist ribut ion When ready for dist ribut ion, put a pack of coolant in
box and close
* critical control points
Figure 11.2 Process flow chart for the production of fresh-cut papaya for export
1
2
1
1
1
2
3
2
4
5
6
7
8
3
2
4
3
Fresh-cut pineapple (Ananas comosus L.)
Harvesting
Pineapples should be harvest ed in t he early morning or lat e in t he evening t o prot ect fruit from
t he sun and t o reduce t he heat load on harvest ing. Pineapples are harvest ed by snapping fruit
from t he st alk using a downward mot ion. The fruit s should be placed in basket s upside down on
t he crown and while in t he field, lef t under shade. The st ems and t he crowns should be t rimmed.
73
Pi neappl es shoul d be t ranspor t ed as soon as possi bl e af t er harvest t o t he packi nghouse and
should be pre-cooled t o remove field heat . This can be done eit her by submerging in wat er, or by
air cooling. Should wat er be used, it should be chlorinat ed and frequent ly replaced. Fruit s wit h
a high level of flesh t ranslucency can be separat ed at t his st age as t hey sink on immersion in wat er.
Grading and sorting
Pineapples must be sort ed for t he required color st age of ripening and for uniformit y of ripening.
They must be fresh and clean in appearance, free of wounds from harvest ing or handling, including
scrat ches, punct ures or bruises.
Process Flow Chart for Fresh-cut Pineapple
Raw mat erial receipt If not processed on t he day of harvest , pineapple must
b e st o r ed i n a co o l r o o m at 8º C u n t i l r ead y f o r
processing
Grading and sort ing Fr ui t must b e g r ad ed and sor t ed f or t hei r whol e-
someness, degree of skin colorat ion, absence of defect
and diseases
Transfer t o washing t ank
Washing* Chlorinat ed wat er (100-200 ppm) for 5 minut es at 8ºC
Inspect for free chlorine Free chlorine should be at a level of 50-80 ppm at t he
st ar t of w ash i n g. At en d of w ash i n g, t h e l evel of
remaining free chlorine should be in excess of 20 ppm.
Inspect ion/ sort ing Remove f rui t wi t h a hi gh l evel of f l esh t ransl ucency
(such fruit sink in wat er)
Peeling Peel skin off wit h a sharp knife
Dipping* Dip in ant i-browning solut ion at 15ºC for 2 minut es
Cut t ing int o size Cut int o st rips or chunks in accordance wit h cust omer
requirement s
Dipping* Dip in ant i-browning solut ion at 15ºC for 2 minut es
Pack Put in boxes wit h per forat ed seal lids
Check weight
Met al det ect ion*
St orage Put t rays int o polyst yrene boxes wit h open lids. St ore in
cold st orage (5ºC)
Dist ribut ion When ready for dist ribut ion, put a pack of coolant in
box and close
* critical control points
Figure 11.3 Process flow chart for the production of fresh-cut pineapple for export
1
2
1
3
1
2
4
5
6
7
8
3
4
1
1
74
Fresh-cut pummelo (Citrus maxima or citrus grandis)
Harvesting
Pummelos should be harvest ed bet ween 6.5 and 7.5 mont hs aft er full bloom. Fruit harvest ed lat er
t han 7.5 mont hs af t er full bloom are generally sweet er. Det erminat ion of t he harvest ing dat e is
dependent on t he sugar/ acid rat io required by t he cust omer and on t he cult ivar.
Pummelos should be harvest ed by cut t ing t he st em of t he fruit wit h scissors and dropping t he fruit
int o a clot h bag. The harvest ed fruit is t hen t ransferred t o a basket and kept in t he shade, following
which is t ransport ed t o t he processing facilit y and st ored in a cool room at 10
o
C and 85% RH.
Grading and sorting
Fruit s damaged by pest s must be separat ed out .
Process Flow Chart for Fresh-cut Pummelo
Raw mat erial receipt If not p r ocessed on t he d ay of har vest , p ummel o
must be st ored in a cool room at 10ºC unt il ready for
processing
Grading and sort ing Fr ui t must b e g rad ed and sor t ed f or t hei r whol e-
someness and t he absence of defect s and diseases
Peeling off t he out er Use a sharp knife t o remove t he out er green skin
Transfer t o washing t ank
Washing* Chlorinat ed wat er (100-200 ppm) for 5 minut es at 8ºC
Inspect for free chlorine Free chlorine should be at a level of 50-80 ppm at t he
st art of washing. At end of washing, t he level remaining
free chlorine should be in excess of 20 ppm.
Peeling off t he pit h Remove t he fleshy part of t he pit h using a knife
Separat ing fruit int o segment s Separat e t he fruit int o segment s using a knife
Removal of flesh Caref ul l y remove t he ski n of t he segment s and t he
seeds, while avoiding damage t o t he segment s
Pack Transfer t o a box wit h a perforat ed seal lid
Check weight
Met al det ect ion*
St orage Put t ray i nt o pol yst yrene box wi t h open l i d. St ore i n
cool st orage (5ºC)
Dist ribut ion When ready for dist ribut ion, put a pack of coolant in
t he box and close
* critical control points
Figure 11.4 Process flow chart for the production of fresh-cut pummelo for export
1
2
3
1
4
1
5
6
7
8
2
3
1
1
75
Fresh-cut Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus Thunb.)
Harvesting
Wat ermelons should be harvest ed at 25-30 days af t er full bloom or when t he ground spot (t he
por t i on of t he mel on rest i ng on t he soi l ) changes f rom pal e whi t e t o a creamy yel l ow col or.
Experienced farmers or fruit sellers use t he knocking of sound fruit as an indicat or of t he mat urit y
index of wat ermelon fruit s. Immat ure fruit give off a met allic ringing sound while mat ure fruit give
a dull or hollow sound.
Fruit are harvest ed by cut t ing t hem off t he vine using scissors. They are t ransferred t o a basket and
lef t under shade.
Grading and sorting
Wat ermelons must be sort ed for mat urit y and for damage caused by bruising and cracking.
Process Flow Chart for Fresh-cut Watermelon
Raw mat erial receipt If not processed on t he day of harvest , wat ermel ons
must be st ored in a cool room at 10ºC
Grading and sort ing Fr ui t must b e g r ad ed and sor t ed f or t hei r whol e-
someness, absence of bruising and cracking
Transfer t o washing t ank
Washing* Wash i n chl ori nat ed wat er (100-200 ppm) at 8ºC for
5 minut es
Inspect for free chlorine Free chlorine should be at a level of 50-80 ppm at t he
st ar t of w ash i n g. At en d of w ash i n g, t h e l evel of
remaining free chlorine should be in excess of 20 ppm.
Cut t ing/ scooping Cu t i n t o sl i ces o r cu b es o r sco o p i n t o b al l s i n
accordance wit h cust omer requirement s
Pack Package in a t ray wit h perforat ed seal lid
Check weight
Met al det ect ion*
St orage Put t ray int o a polyst yrene box wit h open lid. St ore in
cool st orage 5ºC
Dist ribut ion When ready for dist ribut ion, put a pack of coolant in
t he box and close
* critical control points
Figure 11.5 Process flow chart for the production of fresh-cut watermelons for export
1
2
1
3
1
4
5
2
3
1
1
76
4. Processing of fresh-cut non-leafy vegetables
Fresh-cut veget ables are sold in wet market s and supermarket s and are packaged for export . St eps
in t he processes vary in accordance wit h t he t arget market (Figure 11.6). Small vendors generally
t ri m t he produce pri or t o cut t i ng and sel l i ng i n t he wet market under ambi ent condi t i ons.
Supermarket s on t he ot her hand, general l y wash t he produce pri or t o t ri mmi ng, cut t i ng and
packagi ng, under hygi eni c condi t i ons. Veget abl es dest i ned for expor t are subj ect ed t o more
st ringent processing condit ions, wherein t hey are t rimmed, cleaned, cut , washed, sanit ized, dried
and packaged.

Open Market
Veget ables
Pre-Trimming
Trimming
Cut and Sale
Supermarket
Veget ables
Washing
Pre-Trimming
Sell as bundles or packaged in
refrigerat ed display
cabinet s
Export
Veget able
Pre-Grading/ Trimming/ Cleaning
Cut t o Specificat ions
Wash and Sanit ize
Spin Dry
Packaging
Dist ribut ion
Figure 11.6 Steps in the production of fresh-cut fruits in Thailand
for different target markets
5. Processing of selected non-leafy vegetables for export from Thailand
Fresh-cut Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.)
Harvesting
Asp aragus must b e har vest ed accordi ng t o l engt h, di amet er, and condi t i on of t i p s and i n
accordance wit h cust omer specificat ions. In order t o slow respirat ion, asparagus must be harvest ed
eit her during t he early morning or evening, when t emperat ures are cool.
Grading and sorting
Asparagus i s graded i nt o cl asses and al so sor t ed for whol esomeness, f reedom f rom damage
caused by p est s, f reedom f rom any vi si b l e f orei gn mat t er, f reedom f rom b rui si ng, f resh i n
appearance and fresh-smelling.
77
Baby corn (Zea mays L.)
Harvesting
The harvest index for baby corn is indicat ed in various ways. Observat ion of t he emergence of
si l k l engt h coul d be one pract i cal i ndex. Baby corn must be hand-har vest ed 2 t o 3 days af t er
silking or when t he silk emerges 1-2 cent imet res from t he t op end of cobs, or when t he plant is
45-50 days old. The t op cob must be harvest ed first , followed by harvest ing of t he second cob aft er
1-2 days. Baby corn must be harvest ed over 7-10 days t o avoid overgrowt h of t he cob and changes
which lead t o a fibrous t ext ure.
Process Flow Chart for Fresh-cut Asparagus
Raw mat erial receipt
Grading and sort ing Gr ad e an d so r t f o r si ze acco r d i n g t o cu st o mer
specificat ions
Cut t ing Cut lengt hwise t o cust omer specificat ions e.g. 12 cm.
Transfer t o washing t ank Put asparagus int o a basket
Washing* Dip t he basket in chlorinat ed wat er 100-200 ppm for
5 minut es
Inspect for free chlorine Free chlorine should be at a level of 50-80 ppm at t he
st ar t of w ash i n g. At en d of w ash i n g, t h e l evel of
remaining free chlorine should be in excess of 20 ppm.
Transfer t o spinner basket
Spin dry
Cool Use forced air cooling
Pack Pack in a t ray or put in a box wit h a perforat ed seal lid
Weighing
Check weight
Wrapping t ray PE shrink wrapping
Transfer t o box
Met al det ect ion*
St orage Put t ray int o a polyst yrene box wit h open lid. St ore in
cool st orage (2-4ºC)
Dist ribut ion When ready for dist ribut ion, put a pack of coolant in
t he box and close
* critical control points
Figure 11.7 Process flow chart for the production of fresh-cut asparagus for export
1
2
3
1
4
1
2
5
6
7
8
2
9
3
3
1
4
78
Cobs must be properly cooled using forced-air cooling immediat ely af t er harvest . When possible,
har vest i ng shoul d be carri ed out i n t he morni ng, when t he moi st ure cont ent i s hi ghest and
product and ambient t emperat ures are low.
De-husking
Baby corn cobs must be hand husked and t he si l k must be removed. In order t o f aci l i t at e
de-husking, a t hin sharp knife should be used t o open and peel off t he husk. Care should be t aken
not t o break or damage t he cob in t he process.
Grading and sorting
Baby corn must be sort ed for wholesomeness, freedom from damage caused by pest s, freedom
from any visible foreign mat t er and bruising, fresh in appearance, and pract ically free of silk. The
cut on t he base of t he cobs should be clean.
Process Flow Chart for Fresh-cut Baby corn
Raw mat erial receipt
Grading and sort ing Grade and sort for si ze i n accordance wi t h cust omer
specificat ions
Cut t ing Cut lengt hwise t o cust omer specificat ions e.g. 12 cm
Transfer t o washing t ank Transfer baby corn int o a basket
Washing* Dip t he basket in chlorinat ed wat er (100-200 ppm) for
5 minut es
Inspect for free chlorine Free chlorine should be at a level of 50-80 ppm at t he
st ar t of w ash i n g. At en d of w ash i n g, t h e l evel of
remaining free chlorine should be in excess of 20 ppm.
Transfer t o spinner basket
Spin dry
Cool Using forced air cooling
Pack Pack in a t ray or in a box wit h perforat ed seal lid
Weighing
Check weight
Wrapping t ray PE shrink wrapping
Transfer t o box
Met al det ect ion*
St orage Put t ray i nt o pol yst yrene box wi t h open l i d. St ore i n
cool st orage (2-4ºC)
Dist ribut ion When ready for dist ribut ion, put a pack of coolant in
t he box and close
* critical control points
Figure 11.8 Process flow chart for the production of fresh-cut baby corn for export
1
2
3
1
4
1
2
5
6
7
8
2
9
3
3
1
4
79
6. Fresh-cut mixed vegetables: baby pak choi, sweet pepper, asparagus and
baby corn
Pak choi (Brassica chinensis)
Harvesting
Pak choi is harvest ed by hand at t he age of 25-30 days in order t o obt ain young leaves. The head
must be carefully cut at t he base and deep in t he soil, in order t o leave t he shoot syst em int act
and undamaged and t o reduce wat er loss. Harvest ing should st art from midmorning t o midday.
Fol l owi ng harvest , ext ernal and damaged l eaves must be removed and care must be t aken t o
avoid bruising during all operat ions. Pak choi must be t ransferred t o a clean plast ic basket or box
wit h plast ic over wrap and st ored in a cool room prior t o processing
Grading and Sorting
Pak choi heads are graded according t o t heir size and t he qualit y of t heir leaves.
Process Flow Chart for Pak Choi
Preparation of cut pak choi
Raw mat erial receipt
Grading and sort ing Grade and sort for size and for int act leaves and st ems
Trimming Clean cut t he base of t he head
Transfer t o washing t ank Transfer pak choi t o a basket and hydrocool
Washing* Dip t he basket in chlorinat ed wat er (200 ppm) at 10ºC
for 5 minut es
Inspect for free chlorine Free chlorine should be at a level of 80 ppm at t he st art
of washing. At end of washing, t he level of remaining
free chlorine should be in excess of 20 ppm.
Transfer t o washing t ank
Spin drying
Cooling Use forced air cooling
* critical control points
Figure 11.9 Process flow chart for the production of fresh-cut pak choi for export
1
2
3
1
4
1
2
5
6
Sweet Pepper (Capsicum annuum L.)
Harvesting
Green peppers must be har vest ed when t hey are shi ny and f i r m, usual l y at f ul l col or st age
(l i ght green col or) for greenhouse-grown peppers and at t he mat ure green st age (dark green
color) for field grown peppers. Red peppers are harvest ed from t he plant at a lat er st age when t he
fruit t urns red.
80
Sweet pepper must be hand harvest ed using a t hin, sharp knife t o cut t he fruit from t he st em and
t o avoid bruising. Peppers should be cooled soon aft er harvest using eit her forced air cooling or
hydrocooling. In sit uat ions where hydrocooling is applied, peppers should be immediat ely blow
dried wit h air. Peppers are packed in a box and are t ransferred t o a processing plant .
Grading and sorting
Sweet peppers are sort ed for firmness, freshness in appearance and freedom from blemishes.
Process Flow Chart for Sweet Pepper
Preparation of cut sweet pepper
Raw mat erial receipt
Grading and sort ing Grade and sort for freedom from blemishes
Cut t ing int o st rips Remove t he st em by cut t ing around t he fruit . Halve t he
f rui t l engt hwi se and remove t he core and t he seeds
t hen cut int o st rips
Transfer t o washing t ank Transfer sweet pepper t o a basket and hydrocool
Washing* Dip t he basket in chlorinat ed wat er (200 ppm) at 10ºC
for 5 minut es
Inspect for free chlorine Free chlorine should be at a level of 80 ppm at t he st art
of washing. At end of washing, t he level of remaining
free chlorine should be in excess of 20 ppm.
Transfer t o washing t ank
Spin dry
Cooling Using forced air cooling
* critical control points
Figure 11.10 Process flow chart for the production of fresh-cut sweet pepper for export
1
2
3
1
4
1
2
5
6
Fresh-cut Ready-To-Cook mixed veget ables: baby pak choi, sweet pepper, asparagus and
baby corn
Ready-t o-cook mi xed f resh veget abl es: (1) whol e head of pak choi cut l engt hwi se bet ween
8-10 cm, (2) green and red sweet pepper cut int o st rips (3 x 5 cm), (3) asparagus approximat ely
6 cm in lengt h and (4) baby corn cobs wit h t he husk, silk and st alk removed, bet ween 5-7 cm and
in widt h and 1-1.2 cm.
81
Process Flow Chart for Mixed Vegetables
Preparation of fresh-cut mixed vegetables
The veget ables are t horoughly washed, mixed and are packed in a semi-rigid plast ic t ray wit h over
wrapped flexible shrink film and are st ored at 5ºC.
Cut pak choi, cut sweet pepper, cut asparagus, cut baby corn
Pack Pack in t ray or in a box wit h per forat ed seal lid
Weighing
Check weight
Wrapping t ray PE shrink wrapping
Transfer t o box
Met al det ect ion*
St orage Put t ray i nt o pol yst yrene box wi t h open l i d. St ore i n
cool st orage (2-4ºC)
Dist ribut ion When ready for di st ri but i on put a pack of cool ant i n
t he box and close
* critical control points
Figure 11.11 Process flow chart for the production of fresh-cut mixed vegetables for export
1
2
1
3
1
2
1
2
7. Packaging of fresh-cut produce
Packagi ng i s cri t i cal i n t he handl i ng and market i ng of f resh-cut product s. Pl at es 11.3 and 11.4
show a number of packaging format s used for t he market ing of fresh-cut produce in Thailand.
Salad mixes are generally packaged in print ed flexible packs (Plat e 11.5) or in clam shell packs
(Pl at e 11.6). Foam t rays over wrapped wi t h pol yvi nyl chl ori de f i l m (Pl at e 11.3) are t he most
widely-used packaging syst em for fresh-cut fruit s int ended for direct consumpt ion and for use as
ready-t o-cook ingredient s.
82
Plate 11.3 Pummelo in overwrapped foam trays on sale
in the open market in Bangkok
(Court esy of A. Hicks)
Plate 11.4 Pineapple in different packaging formats
on the open market in Bangkok
(Court esy of A. Hicks)
83
Plate 11.5 Bagged salads sold in higher-end supermarkets
in Bangkok
(Court esy of V. Chonhenchob, Kaset sart Universit y)
Plate 11.6 Salads marketed in a clam shell pack
in high-end Thai supermarkets
(Court esy of V. Chonhenchob, Kaset sart Universit y)
84
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Economic Report . Available at : ht t p:/ / st at ist ics.defra.gov.uk/ esg/ report s/ foodmiles/ default .asp
Al-At i, T. & Hot chkiss, J.H. 2002. Applicat ion of packaging and modified at mosphere t o fresh-cut fruit s.
In O. Lamikanra, ed: Fresh-cut fruit s and veget ables: Science, t echnology, and market . d. CRC Press, Boca
Rat on, Florida.
Ayhan, Z., Chism, G.W. & Richt er, E.R. 1998. The shel f -l i fe of mi ni mal l y processed f resh-cut mel ons.
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