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Effect of combining UV-C irradiation and vacuum sealing on the shelf life of fresh strawberries and tomatoes

 

A Saudi research presents the effect of combining UV-C irradiation and vacuum sealing on the shelf life of strawberries and quartered tomatoes and compares it with the effect of the sole use of UV-C irradiation or vacuum sealing, and the results were published in the Journal of Food Science. 

A constant UV-C dose of 360 J/m2 was used for the samples’ irradiation, and all the vacuum-sealed samples were stored at a reduced pressure of 40 kPa. Organoleptic analysis, microbial population quantification of yeast and mold, Pseudomonas sp., weight loss, and pH measurements were obtained to identify the spoilage occurrence, monitor the samples’ quality, and quantify the shelf life. Sensory evaluation was conducted by 12 consumer panelists to evaluate the aroma, taste, color, texture, and the overall acceptance of the samples. 

The results revealed that the combination of UV-C irradiation and vacuum sealing prolongs the shelf life of perishables more than the sole use of UV-C irradiation or vacuum sealing. The achieved shelf-life increase using this combination was 124.41% and 54.41% for strawberries and quartered tomatoes, respectively, while acceptable sensory characteristics were maintained throughout the storage period. 

Hence, this food preservation method can be further improved and integrated in the daily life of modern consumers and the operations of fresh produce retailers, as it could effectively reduce the spoilage rates of fresh produce and help achieve the UN SDG 12.3, which aims to reduce food loss and waste by 50% by 2030 at the consumer and retail levels. 

The system can be further developed and introduced to the market as a kitchen appliance for households or as a predistribution step for fresh produce distribution centers. The shelf-life extension capability of this system, which does not involve any use of chemical substances, would make it an attractive solution for households and food retailers. 

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