Extending the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables in retail stores - Assessment of an innovative controlled atmosphere solution
Abstract: Fruits and vegetables (F&V) waste in retail stores linked to consumer dissatisfaction has led to an increased interest in new preservation solutions to extend the shelf-life of fresh produce. In this study, the potential of controlled atmosphere (CA) combined with optimal temperature and relative humidity (RH) to extend the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables (F&V) in retail stores for short-term storage periods was assessed using an innovative prototype. Seven types of F&V were stored at 4°C and optimal RH with and without CA for 3 to 7 days. Browning was delayed for mushrooms and chicories under CA, allowing to extend their shelf-life after 3 days of storage. The quality of strawberries was positively affected by CA, with a firmer texture and a potentially better visual quality. Lower weight losses resulting in slower deterioration were observed for leafy greens, mushrooms and white asparagus. With the recorded gas consumption, the prototype is financially viable only for small F&V with high-added value, like strawberries or organic chicories, and its environmental impact potentially positive for strawberries and negative for lettuce and asparagus when considering four environmental indicators.
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