- Fresh fruit & vegetables are living tissue... even after harvest, they continue live and to breathe. This respiration produces carbon dioxide, water and heat and causes ageing or deterioration of quality.
- The rate of ageing of the produce is largely determined by its rate of respiration. Respiration and physiological activities can be slowed to minimise the rate and effects of ageing but respiration can never be completely stopped or the produce (fruit or vegetable) dies.
- The rate of respiration is temperature dependent. Produce when kept cool will have a lower rate of respiration and lowered rate of deterioration.
- However, produce, which is actively cooled, will also need to be provided breathable air and water to sustain its life. When alive, the produce deters external disease and decomposition.
- Different products have different rates of respiration. Those with higher rates are more highly perishable and cold-chain management is critical even more so for these produce types.
- Ethylene, a by product of respiration, causes faster ageing. Keeping produce cool also reduces the production of ethylene. Furthermore, cooled produce is less sensitive to ethylene exposure.
- All living things will eventually die and cold-chain management only helps to delay the inevitable. This effort to obtain extra time must be aimed to beget gainful end-use.
- Fresh harvested fruits and vegetables have following end-uses, in order of priority: fresh consumption (whole foods, salads, cooked at homes), processing into other food products (flakes, juices, wines, pickles, jams, oils, etc), non-food processing (dyes, vermi-compost, cattle feed, etc). The latter should be only in case of trimmings and non-edible waste.
- India has the highest stake in the world in fruit and vegetable production and has taken up greater focus on achieving gainful end-use of the food produced. Cold-chain delivers the consumers fresh and more nutritional food, keeps some processed foods safe and brings direct market linkage to producers.
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