Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Light shortens the life of supermarket vegetables

27.10.2008
According to various studies undertaken by researchers from the University of La Rioja, exposure to light reduces the quality of cauliflower, broccoli, chard, leeks and asparagus, which have been processed for sale.

Their latest work has been published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, and shows that the useful life of chard is reduced by 11 days if it is exposed to light instead of keeping it in the dark, even though it has been covered in the best protective wrap.

“We have established that there is a negative effect on the sensory quality of minimally processed vegetables (MPV) if they are exposed to light. These are foods that are ready for immediate consumption after being washed, peeled, cut and wrapped in protective polymeric wraps ”, Susan Sanz explains to SINC and who is from the Department of Food Technology at the University of La Rioja. Her team has shown that the useful life of leeks is reduced from approximately 26 to 18 days if they are exposed to light, broccoli from 14 to 11 days, and cauliflower from 11 to 3 days.

According to Sanz, “the colour is affected in particular in non-pigmented green vegetables (cauliflower, asparagus, leeks and the white part of the chard), whereas in green vegetables (broccoli, leeks and the green part of the chard) the sensory attribute which suffers the most deterioration is texture”.

Light activates the opening of the stomata (pores in which gas exchange occurs in plants), causing an increase in respiratory and photosynthetic levels. In the case of chard, for example, the green parts have a high stomatal density, for which reason a greater interchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs, in addition to a loss of water which, similarly, promotes dehydration. The white parts, on the other hand, “respire much less”, but the light affects their coloration more.

The scientists have illuminated various containers storing non pigmented vegetables and have shown that they have atmospheres with higher CO2 levels and less O2 content than those kept in the dark, using the same type of wrap. As regards green vegetables stored in illuminated conditions, they have an increased respiratory rate, although this is compensated for by the photosynthetic activity of the plant itself. In this case, the composition of the atmosphere on the inside of the container and the lifetime of the product depend on the permeability of the wrap used.

Scientists have shown that fresh or near fresh vegetables ”do not usually exceed the two weeks’ useful shelf life”, and that light promotes their deterioration since this accelerates the transpiration and respiration of these plants, and changes the way they behave. Sanz does point out that not only is it important not to break the cold chain, but it is also important to control the atmosphere inside the container so that it suits the type of vegetable”.

The response to light exposure is different depending on whether a leaf, an inflorescence (such as the cauliflower or broccoli), a root or a stem is involved. “These factors should be taken into account when establishing the optimum conditions of process, storage and commercialisation”, Sanz states.

The researcher recognises that the ideal situation would be to keep the vegetables both in the cold and in the dark, which is what actually happens in distributors’ coolers and sales points, but at the end of the day they must be on view to the consumer. Her team is already carrying out tests to see which is the ideal colour for lights at the point of sale so that the vegetables are not affected so much. In any case, they recommend the shelves are refilled frequently so that the products are exposed to light for the least time possible, as well as using “attractive containers, but adapted to each type of vegetable”.

“We are used to seeing clear wraps and it is nice to be able to see the product, but we need to progress towards dyed wraps, which could have a small window in them in order to see inside the product”, Sanz emphasises. She quotes the consumers’ willingness to accept crisp bags as an example. As light affects the oxidation of fatty products, previously clear plastic bags for this product are currently protected by brown paper, or have been replaced directly with bags made from aluminium with a photo of the crisps on the outside.

SINC Team | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Millions through license revenues
27.04.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht New High-Performance Center Translational Medical Engineering
26.04.2017 | Fraunhofer ITEM

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>