According to data published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 16% of food ends up in the garbage in Europe, with more than 20% of that being fruits and vegetables. Most of this food is discarded during transportation, storage and distribution, and processing and packaging. These are critical points that need to be kept under control, establishing strategies for optimal conservation.
The Post-harvest Technology Area of the Tecnova Technological Center is studying different technologies for the post-harvest treatment of fruits and vegetables which could be implemented in the different stages that the product goes through from the time it is harvested until it reaches the final consumer.
"To supply a quality product, you need to work from the pre to the post-harvest"
Quality, together with food safety, is what allows the current fruit and vegetable production to stand out. In order to supply a quality product to the consumer, it is necessary to work from pre to post-harvest and closely monitor the various parameter that can affect the shelf life of fruits and vegetables.
In the post-harvest stage, there are tools and procedures that can help maintain the quality of the products; however, this is also a stage in which not too much attention is paid, even though it can make a difference to the product. It is essential to invest in good washing, disinfection, sorting, packaging, storage or distribution.
When it comes to the application of post-harvest technologies, Tecnova is studying different modified atmosphere packaging methods, as well as the effectiveness of clean technologies for the sanitization of fruits within two lines: physical treatments (ultraviolet light, ultrasound or mild heat treatment) and chemical treatments, such as the use of organic acids, plant extracts or oxygen reactive species.
The study and selection of the most suitable treatment strategy and parameters for each product is carried out by analyzing quantitative quality parameters, such as weight loss during storage, color, firmness, total soluble solids, titratable acidity, vitamins, sugars, acids and phenols, among others. In this way, it is possible to estimate the product's perishability and shelf life.
Through projects such as the one carried out by the Post-harvest Technology Area, Tecnova is carrying out a feasibility study of methodologies based on clean technologies in order to improve the flavor and integral quality of the papayas grown in Mediterranean climates.
The study is looking into the ideal strategies for the conditioning and storage of papayas under different conditions, as well as the effect of applying clean technologies to guarantee optimum quality, flavor and shelf life.
For more information: www.fundaciontecnova.com