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Preservation of fresh-cut produce using natural compounds

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Purpose of review: This review focuses on the practical use of natural compounds to preserve the quality of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.

Main findings: Minimal processing operations damage the tissue integrity of fruits and vegetables, which triggers wounding and deteriorative processes including oxidative browning, tissue softening, water loss, and production of undesirable flavours and odours. In addition, the removal of the natural protective epidermal barrier and the increase in moisture and dissolved sugars on the surface provide ideal conditions for the colonisation and multiplication of micro-organisms. The control of cut-surface browning and growth of disease-causing micro-organisms is critical to maintaining the quality and safety of fresh-cut produce. As an alternative to synthetic preservatives, natural active agents have attracted the attention of modern consumers and the fresh produce industry. Therefore, the use of natural preservatives may be effective in retaining the quality of minimally processed products by having an antimicrobial effect, inhibiting spoilage or avoiding oxidative processes.

Directions for future research: The combined use of natural preservatives with other hurdles to microbial growth or polyphenol oxidase activity, such as CO2, mild heat treatment and pH reduction is a promising and useful approach in order to enhance their capacity to interact with the microbial cell membrane. The incorporation of antimicrobial and antioxidant agents in film or coating together with the use of modified atmosphere packaging seems to be a promising research field as it could result in many benefits, such as the retention of sensorial quality and freshness appearance of fresh fruits and vegetables.
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Keywords: ANTIOXIDANT COMPOUNDS; FRESH-CUT PRODUCTS; NATURAL ANTIMICROBIALS

Document Type: Research Article

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