Evaluation of bagged lettuce quality stored in different packaging and fridge conditions
Abstract: The convenience that bagged lettuce offers has often coupled with consequence of rapid quality deterioration, especially at home after the consumers open the package. In this study, the quality of bagged lettuce during storage in different packaging and fridge conditions was evaluated. The aim was to understand the problems that consumers encounter while storing bagged salad in the household fridge. Lettuce was stored in different temperatures (2 oC, 5 oC, 8oC), different relative humidity (RH) (21%, 56.5%, 82.5%), and different packaging types (sealed bag, open bag, folded bag, unpackaged) for 8 to 14 days. The following quality parameters were assessed throughout the storage period: weight loss, texture, color change, vitamin C, and condensation build-up in the packages. Several quality parameters were affected by both temperature and RH, such as weight loss and condensation. Meanwhile, some others were affected by only temperature (e.g. texture) or RH (e.g. color change), which higher RH could give better quality preservation. As for packaging types, it was shown that higher exposure to oxygen resulted in higher quality deterioration rate. Storing lettuce in folded bag could preserve the quality much better than just leaving the bag opened in the fridge. The online survey showed that most consumers rely on their personal judgement when it comes to salad quality assessment. Although the quality perception varied between individuals, the majority have similar perception on bad visual quality linked to color change of lettuce. Consumers demanded for clearer instructions on how to store the bagged lettuce in their fridge properly and better fridge design or cooling system to support the storage of this product.
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