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US: New technology to keep navy's produce fresh
It's an ethylene control system from Primaira's Bluezone Fresh Preservation Technology and it will soon be installed on two aircraft carriers, to prevent fruit and vegetables from early ripening and being spoiled.
The new system will cost $300 per year to maintain, which is an enormous benefit when the filters in the current system are priced at $1,200 and last only for a month.
The plan is to start using the technology aboard the carriers Eisenhower in Norfolk, Va., and Carl Vinson in San Diego in 2013. The Navy will evaluate the value of the new hardware and decide whether the equipment should be installed elsewhere, including supply ships. It’s possible every link in the supply chain from the farm to the galley could one day store produce in ethylene-controlled refrigerators, extending freshness without changing taste or nutritional content.
"It’s an item that helps extend the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables, up to three weeks in some cases," said Cmdr. Danny King, food service director for Naval Supply Systems Command. "That will go a long way once we get this out to the fleet to make a difference for the better."
The systems will be installed in refrigerators, where a fan will distribute air. The devices have a special ultraviolet light that creates a low level of ozone to break down ethylene gas into carbon dioxide and water vapor, thus stunting ripening and preventing the formation of mold.
Exactly how long a piece of fruit will last in the new system will vary depending on water content and, therefore, by variety. Cherries, for example, will last longer than a kiwifruit, being less susceptible to ethylene in the first place.
The new technology has arrived at the right time - the Navy is currently encouraging its personnel to eat more fruit and vegetables. Every meal that they are served must now contain at least two vegetables servings - though there are exceptions for ships at sea. Still, even then there must be at least one type of vegetable served and it must be known to contain high levels of vitamin C or A and there must also be fruit available.
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