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Impact of Food Processing and Storage Conditions on Nitrate Content in Canned Vegetable–Based Infant Foods

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Abstract:

The nitrate and nitrite contents were determined in canned vegetable–based infant foods of five varieties. Furthermore, changes in nitrate content during industrial processing were studied. Samples were taken from raw materials, homogenized mixtures, and final products after sterilization, and then analyzed for nitrate and nitrite content by high-pressure liquid chromatography. Processing steps preceding heat treatment, such as vegetable peeling and washing, decreased the nitrate concentrations in the range of 17 to 52%. During processing, the nitrate content in canned infant foods decreased 39 to 50%, compared with nitrate concentration in the raw-vegetable mixture. The final nitrate concentration in infant foods depends mainly on the initial nitrate content of the raw-vegetable mixture. The effect of storage time (24 and 48 h) and temperature (4 to 6°C and 20 to 22°C) on nitrate and nitrite content in opened canned infant-food samples was studied. After 24 h of storage at refrigerated and room temperatures, the mean nitrate content increased on average by 7 and 13%, and after 48 h of storage by 15 and 29%, respectively. The nitrite content in all analyzed samples was below the quantification limit. Storage requirements of industrial manufacturers must be followed strictly. Opened can foods, stored under refrigerated conditions, have to be consumed within 2 days, as recommended by manufacturers. The infant-food producers must pay more attention to the quality of raw materials. Nitrate content analyses should be added as compulsory tests to the quality assurance programs.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Science and Hygiene of the Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Kreutzwaldi 58A, 51014 Tartu, Estonia 2: Estonian Health Protection Inspectorate, Tartu Laboratory, PK 272, 50002 Tartu, Estonia

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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