Fruits and Vegetables are known to be the best reservoir of vitamins and minerals. These are nature’s gift which completes our diet. We are familiar with the say that” An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. In our childhood days we keep on wondering how it is possible but as we grow up we realize it’s worth it. Yes, that was correctly said. These act as a safeguard for our body and protect us from different ailments. In addition to it, they delay ageing by the action of the antioxidants present in it.
Food sectors continuously generate novel products by following the trends of consumers whose preferences are increasing towards ready-to-use foods. Among these, fresh-cut fruits and vegetables are at the top of the list and are stimulating a great effort of research in this area. Food sectors have grown rapidly in recent years as a result of the changes in consumer habits. Therefore, there is a real need to find new methods for preserving processed food products able to achieve widespread acceptance by the industry.
Food appearance remains the most important attribute, strongly affecting consumer decision to buy it or not. Besides, food texture is also a fundamental feature determining product acceptability, appearance, and texture changes being very tightly linked markers of food spoilage. Both appearance and texture of a fruit or vegetable tissue strictly depend on genetic, environmental, postharvest handling, and storage factors. Therefore, the precise knowledge of the processes leading to the appearance and textural modifications is crucial in developing effective approaches to counteract them and, hence, to improve the quality and shelf-life of these products. Most of the changes occurring in fresh-cut fruits and vegetables represent an extension of the normal ripening procedure leading to their softening, although they are also specifically influenced by the tissue cutting and wounding. Product maturity at the time of processing mostly affects the shelf-life of fruits since they become increasingly soft and susceptible to transport and handling damage during ripening. A precise understanding of ripening-related softening, hence, must be carefully taken into consideration when fresh-cut fruits are studied. Conversely, fresh-cut vegetables normally present little problems because they generally have a much greater proportion of cells with thickened secondary walls and, consequently, are much firmer and less susceptible to spoilage.
As we know in this twenty-first-century science is experiencing new heights. The evolving minds are trying their level best to bring about a revolution in every field. A start-up in Santa Barbara, California has come up with a solution to preserve fruits and vegetables by a simple coating. It is named as Apeel Sciences. James Rogers is the founder and chief executive of Apeel Sciences. He is a PhD student in materials science at the University of California. They mainly produce an impermeable edible barrier from various plant wastes. These include stem, leaves, banana peel, fresh waste parts which are left as wastes. This covering can extend the shelf life of the produce by five times as previously. So that fruits and vegetables can reach the customers as if it is freshly harvested.
BRIEF ABOUT THE EDIPEEL TECHNOLOGY
Edipeel is a thin layer on the fruits and vegetables which protect food from external damage. Being alive products they also respire even after harvest. It causes spoilage of the product. The external environment also causes an oxidative change to the fresh produce. The water loss from the surface due to transpiration is also a reason behind the spoilage and loss of freshness. So to avoid the changes, a protection layer should be there. Apeel’s technology primarily relies on the extraction of organic compounds from the plant body. The compounds are used to form a water-based formulation that acts as a coat on the delicate surface. It acts as a micro-thin natural hurdle to the outer environment and masks the product from the attack of microorganisms.
Edipeel comes powder form in packets for the convenience of use. We just need to open the packet and dilute it in liquid form. After that, we can immerse the product in the solution or can spray the solution on the produce. When left for some time it leaves a thin coating on the surface. When treated with avocado it shows a remarkable effect against anthracnose(a disease caused due to fungus in the genus Colletotrichum). Hence it is a perfect solution to fortify the products against plant pathogens.
EMPHASISING FUTURE PRODUCT
Edipeel is for post-harvest management but they are planning for another product Invisipeel for pre-harvest treatment. In this growing demand for food, a maximum number of pesticides are being used to raise the efficiency and production. But it has many negative impacts on the ecosystem due to the chemicals present in it. The pesticides which are used for killing pathogens also kill the life of beneficial bacteria by interfering with cellular metabolism. It causes many side effects when consumed by human beings. Because of its drawbacks, various regulatory boards ban its use in many countries having no option left.
Apeel Sciences has taken a step forward to solve the issue. The basic idea is to keep away the pests from the plant. And it can be done only by covering the produce with a coating. The coating will make the compounds on the surface unidentifiable to the pests. Simply we can say it as a method to divert the fungi, bacteria by recognizing it as not a food. Edipeel will save from the tremendous loss we are suffering due to it and will be profitable for farmers. Invisipeel is under research and development and soon it will come to play. The best part of Edipeel is, it is a natural edible product. It is free from the various consequences of the chemicals. Edipeel has no impact on the human body as it is a completely organic product. They don’t have any colour or odour issues. And this cannot be seen with naked eyes. It binds water inside and reduces the moisture content. The air remains outside. Hence there is a long shelf life. This product shows the gateway to save the world’s economy by enhancing productivity. Producing more and more crops is not only the ultimate solution. To make the world hunger-free, the food needs to be preserved. We have to maintain the quality and its aesthetic value. So that everyone can have access to it. So to keep pace with the changing scenario we have to customize our practices.
The application of edible coatings are obtained from inexpensive raw materials and is effective against both browning development and textural deterioration happening during the management and storage of fresh-cut products. The ability of such hydrocolloid film to act as an effective barrier to moisture is allowed to coat fresh fruit and vegetables to gradually decrease their water loss and to counterattack the microbial growth during their storage at 4°C for 10 days. Also, food texture was assessed both at the harvest of the products and after storage by acquiring their mechanical profiles. An almost stable physiological situation was depicted between the two stages (at harvest and after storage), with a practically unmodified pattern of both products the Rheological properties like “hardness and chewiness”, when apples, potatoes, and carrots were coated with the edible films.
The use of various combinations of treatments may be certainly advantageous, even though they should be optimized for each plant species and sometimes probably even for each cultivar.
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Currently Pursuing B-tech from National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management, Haryana under Ministry of Food Processing Industries,Govt. of India