Quality and Safety of Fresh-cut Vegetables and Fruits
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The appearance, convenience, and generally high nutritive value of fresh-cut vegetables and fruits drive sales of fresh produce, but repeat sales of fresh-cuts is dependent upon assurance of its safety and the products having pleasing texture and flavor. The industry primarily relies on established technologies derived mainly from practical experience to maintain visual quality and shelf-life with less consideration of the quality characteristics that drive repeat sales such as good flavor retention, maintenance of an appealing texture (crispness, crunchiness), and increased microbial quality leading to extended shelf stability and food safety. Through interaction with the industry we know that current technologies, especially for fresh-cut fruits, do not provide the shelf stability needed to supply long distance domestic markets with optimum flavor quality.As a result of physiological and microbial deterioration occurring during storage and marketing of fresh produce, and especially fresh-cut produce, there is a continuing need to develop effective, less-damaging treatments for maintaining the sensory quality (appearance, flavor, texture), nutritional value, and food safety of fresh harvested produce (How, 1990). Most of the sales of fresh-cut produce have been in the vegetable (salad, carrot slice) area (Garrett, 2002) and commercial handling practices for fresh-cut vegetables have been described (Barth et al., 2016). Beginning about a decade ago, research and commercial interest has focused more on fresh-cut fruits and melons (Beaulieu et al., 2004; Beaulieu and Gorny, 2016; Candir, 2017; Kader, 2008; Rojas-Grau and Martin-Belloso, 2008; Soliva-Fortuny and Martin-Belloso, 2003). With over 200 different vegetable and fruit crops with potential for development as fresh-cut products, each with unique physiology and handling requirements, an integrated, scientific approach to research and development including microbiological interactions with these products is critically needed.The conditions on the cut surface of fresh-cut products, with the presence of water and compounds that can be used for nutrition, are ideal for growth of microbes..........