Fresh and minimally processed foodstuffs like fresh-cut produce, meat, fish as well as ready-to-eat meals with fresh components are important market sectors in the retail food industry. However, because of their fresh nature, mild processing technologies or increased surfaces as a consequence of cutting processes, these products are very sensitive to food quality changes. However, a coating made from waste plant material is being used on avocados sold in US supermarkets.
Created by California-based Apeel Sciences, the Apeel coating is made from non-toxic organic compounds known as lipids and glycerolipids, which are derived from the unwanted peels, seeds, and pulp of various types of vegetables and fruit.
Deterioration can occur by chemical, physical as well as microbiological processes like water loss, enzymatic based and light-induced colour changes (e.g. browning), oxidation, and loss of cellular integrity (softening) or a growth of microorganisms.
The coating is reportedly colorless, odorless and tasteless, and is typically applied to produce in a dipping process. It then proceeds to form a barrier that helps keep moisture from dissipating out of the fruit/vegetable, while minimizing the amount of oxygen that can get in. According to the company, this allows produce to stay fresh two to three times longer than would otherwise be possible.
Not only should the coating reduce the amount of fruit and vegetables lost to spoilage, but it should also allow growers to pick and ship produce when it’s actually ripe, as opposed to picking underripe produce that then (hopefully) ripens in stores or consumer’s homes. Additionally, because Apeel is made from ingredients approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute, it can be used on organic fruit and vegetables without altering their organic status.
Source: Apeel Sciences