9 Methods to Extend the Shelf Life of Fresh Produce

9 Methods to Extend the Shelf Life of Fresh Produce

 

 

9 Methods to Extend the Shelf Life of Fresh Produce

As a grower or supplier of fresh produce, there’s not much worse than having your products expire early.

This can damage your reputation and be expensive to deal with. Not to mention the hundreds of millions of tons of food loss and waste it causes globally per year.

Growers and shippers give their fruits and vegetables the best chance of staying fresh by extending shelf life.

Why Extending Shelf Life Helps?

Fresh produce can spend up to half its life in transit. When shipping fruits and vegetables all over the world, it’s important to make sure the energy required to do so is put to good use.
Fruits and vegetables need to be given the best chance to survive long haul shipments.

Some benefits of extending shelf life include:

  • Better quality produce
  • Fewer shipments rejected
  • Less food loss and waste
  • Increased margins
  • Better brand reputation

There are a few different approaches to shelf life extension, including a few exciting innovations in recent years.

Causes of Reduced Shelf Life

To prolong shelf life, you must know what harms fresh produce.

The main factors that can affect shelf life are:

  • Ethylene exposure
  • Temperature changes and extremes
  • Humidity/moisture
  • Microbial growth
  • Physical harm

So, it makes sense that the methods used to extend shelf life should affect at least one of these factors.

Different Methods of Fresh Produce Shelf Life Extension

Methods to extend shelf life can vary for different types of fruits and vegetables, but there are multiple solutions for most.

Different ways of extending shelf life include:

  • Packaging improvements and modified atmosphere packaging
  • Improving treatment and handling procedures
  • Finding weaknesses in cold chain
  • Monitoring humidity
  • Individual item coverings
  • Smart stickers
  • Absorbent food trays and pads
  • New varieties
  • Natural antimicrobials

Packaging Improvements and Modified-Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)

An easy step towards extending fruit and vegetable shelf life is to improve packaging. Shelf life-extending packaging can control respiration rate, ripening, and/or microbial growth.

Longer shelf life enables extended seasonality, less food loss, and a higher chance of maintaining freshness.

Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) works to control the gases that surround an item. For example, limiting the oxygen that surrounds fruit will help to prolong shelf life.

Certain pallet covers, carton containers, and sheets can help to control ethylene.

Packaging improvements and MAP to extend shelf life

Improving Treatment and Handling Procedures

From the moment a fruit or vegetable is harvested, you need to make sure your treatments and handling methods are not harming them.

Examples of poor treatment methods can be using contaminated water to clean items or storing them in contaminated boxes.

Also, ensuring fresh produce is not subjected to excessive forces will help to ensure they are not damaged. Even minor things can harm shelf life. Keeping standard operating procedures (SOPs) is important to ensure proper handling, treatment and handling procedures to extend shelf life

Finding Temperature Weaknesses in Cold Chain

Keeping a low temperature helps to limit decay and slow down microbial growth. If any part of the cold chain between harvest and the customer is compromised, it can harm the products.

One study showed that a delay of four hours between harvest and precooling of strawberries increased water loss by almost 50%. It also harmed the appearance upon arrival at the distribution center.

There are a few useful methods to record the temperature throughout the cold chain. This data can also be used to enable shelf life prediction.

Fix weaknesses in the cold chain to extend shelf life

Monitoring Humidity to Identify Improvement Areas

Humidity monitoring is equally important to temperature tracking. The two are often bundled together, as well.

Having high humidity helps to limit moisture loss in fruits and vegetables. Refrigeration can cause humidity loss, so keeping proper humidity levels is crucial to reducing shrink.

IoT devices track both temperature and humidity of items from the farm to the customer to identify areas for improvement, monitor humidity to extend shelf life

Individual Item Coverings

Natural, plant-based coverings on fresh produce have generated a lot of buzz lately. One company, Apeel, has even raised a few hundred million dollars in funding for its solution.

Produce degrades by losing water and through oxidation (a chemical process requiring oxygen). Apeel’s coverings work by keeping moisture inside and oxygen outside.

Some stores have implemented using individual plastic coverings on fresh produce to extend the shelf life. It is best to avoid plastic wherever possible. However, using plastic coverings can be better for the environment than letting food go to waste.

Smart Stickers

Some studies show how certain compounds can reduce the effects of ethylene or limit microbial growth to extend shelf life.

While there is plenty of validation in the supply chain left to perform, it is certainly an interesting idea that requires little effort smart stickers to extend shelf life

Absorbent Food Trays and Pads

There is a lot of innovation around pads that can go in the containers of fresh-cut produce. Pads absorb excess juices and can help to slow a product’s respiration rate.

These are already commonly used in the industry, but it’s worth keeping up with the increasing capabilities of absorbent pads, absorbent food trays and pads to extend shelf life

Switching Varieties

Since farming began, humans have always sought ways to make new varieties that taste better. Now that our planet is more spread out and we ship across the world, creating varieties of produce with longer shelf lives is an area of focus.

If you are open to using new varieties, it is best to keep an eye on what is available and evaluate potential alternatives.

Natural Antimicrobials

Using herb, spice, or plant extracts as antimicrobials can help to prevent spoilage and extend shelf life.

As customers demand safer ingredients, it is important to seek out natural alternatives to chemicals. This can also be a selling point used to win even more customers.

What if You Had Extra Shelf Life?

What immediate benefits would you have if you could extend the shelf life of your produce by days, or even weeks? The answer is probably a lot.

You can have more shipments accepted, less shrink and loss, and improved margins.

Long-haul shipments become a possibility and you will be able to guarantee higher quality fruits and vegetables.

Conclusion

Reducing fresh produce food loss and waste reduces cost, improves brand reputation, and helps meet sustainability goals.

You can extend shelf life in several ways, and the best solution depends on the application.

Shelf life prediction is another useful tool for reducing food loss and waste and does not require physical product changes.

Need assistance with Shelf Life testing of your products? Contact us for a free consultation.

Benefits of Bananas

Benefits of Bananas

 

 

Bananas & Health

Bananas are considered to be one of the healthiest foods for your body. It contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin E, B, C, iron, and zinc. Bananas are also one of the most widely known sources of potassium.

What are the Benefits of Eating Bananas?

There are many benefits of bananas. They are an effective and healthy source of energy. If you want to combat afternoon fatigue at work or if you want to make the most of your workout session, a banana is a healthy alternative to a sports or energy drink.

This is because they contain natural sugars that provide your body with energy.

If you are struggling with heartburn or ulcers, a banana is a perfect snack for you.  It also improves your digestion, making you feel comfortable and energetic. This means that when you regularly eat bananas, it will also help you to sleep better at night. Similar to chocolate, bananas can also improve your mood and reduce your stress levels. But why are bananas so good for you? Let’s take a look at what happens at a physiological level when you eat a banana.

What can a Banana do for Your Body?

Potassium

One of the biggest benefits of potassium is that it blunts the effect of sodium. Sodium reduces your kidney’s ability to remove water and increases your blood pressure. Potassium also normalizes your blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessel walls. It follows, then, that regularly

eating bananas should be a key part of your heart-conscious lifestyle.

Benefits of Banana

Fiber

Bananas are rich in carbohydrates and sugar, making it an effective source of energy. This may be, however, a red light for people who are watching their carb intake. The good news is that the average banana has a glycemic index of more or less 52 and contains 3 grams of fiber.

Dietary fiber intake is important, especially for diabetics since it slows down digestions and the absorption of carbohydrates.

If you are worried about your sugar intake, make sure that you only eat smaller bananas that are greener, since green bananas contain more resistant starch than yellow or ripe bananas. It will provide your body with a healthy and consistent energy release without you feeling fatigued or hungry.

Fiber also moves faster through your digestive tract and improves digestion. In combination with a banana’s ability to change your stomach’s pH levels, fiber can prevent reflux and heartburn.

Tryptophan

Bananas contain tryptophan. This is an amino acid that your body converts into serotonin, a feel-good chemical. Well-maintained serotonin levels are believed to keep depression at bay. It can also improve your mood, sleeping patterns, and libido.

How Often Should You Eat Bananas?

It is recommended that you eat around one or two bananas a day. People with heart conditions can even eat up to three bananas per day. If you have type 2 Diabetes, you can also eat two per day as long as they are not too big or ripe. Children can eat one banana per day, as it may reduce the risk for leukemia and asthma.

Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

 

 

Omega 3 is often mentioned in advertisements related to losing weight. Omega 3 fatty acids play an integral role in the functioning of your heart, lungs, immune system, endocrine system, and blood vessels. It also ensures that you have energy by providing your body with calories.

What is the Best Source of Omega 3?

Your body can synthesize most fats. This is, however, not the case when it comes to omega 3 fatty acids.  It means, Omega 3 fatty acid is an essential acid that you can get through your diet. The best source of Omega 3 fatty acid is widely considered to be fish like mackerel, sardines, and salmon, however there are many other sources of this polyunsaturated fatty acids. These include soybeans, walnuts, canola oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil.

Many of these sources provide additional health benefits as well. For example, Flaxseeds are considered to be a superfood that fights cancer and that reduces sugar cravings. Chia seeds can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and Salmon is an excellent source of protein.

Is Omega 3 Good for Weight Loss?

Even though it is not possible to say explicitly that Omega 3 intake leads to weight loss, it plays a secondary role that helps people lose weight easier. First and foremost, the intake of fish oil or other sources of Omega 3 can reduce appetite and hunger. This is why foods that are rich in Omega 3 are sometimes included in diets.

Omega 3 may also increase a person’s metabolism. This means that it increases your metabolic rate, which is an indicator of the number of calories that you burn throughout the day. People with a higher metabolic rate will find it easier to lose weight and to keep the weight off.

People with a higher intake of Omega 3 may also experience an increase in muscle mass. Since muscle burns more calories than fat does, this may explain the increase in metabolism as well. Omega 3 tends to increase the number of calories you burn when you exercise as well.

This is why many people that use a combination of Omega 3 in their diets and exercise may lose weight more rapidly.  The studies that were conducted in the past did not deliver the same results in terms of weight loss. Although Omega 3 is considered to be good for your health, you still have to make sure that you maintain a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet while not exceeding an intake of 3,000 mg of fish oil Omega 3 per day.

Is Omega 3 Good for Hair Loss?

Since Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory properties, it is good for hair loss by opening up the hair follicles and stimulating hair growth.

If you are experiencing hair loss, try increasing your Omega 3 intake. Not only will it stimulate hair growth, but it can also prevent dry and flaky scalp.

Need testing of Omega 3 fatty acid in any of your products? Contact us for a  free consultation.

Why Fecal Coliform Testing Is Important?

Why Fecal Coliform Testing Is Important?

 

 

Total coliform bacteria are a collection of relatively harmless microorganisms that live in large numbers in the intestines of man and warm- and cold-blooded animals. They aid in the digestion of food. A specific subgroup of this collection is the fecal coliform bacteria, the most common member being Escherichia coli.

These organisms may be separated from the total coliform group by their ability to grow at elevated temperatures and are associated only with the fecal material of warm-blooded animals.

Fecal coliform by themselves are usually  not pathogenic; they are indicator organisms, which means they may indicate the presence of other pathogenic bacteria. Pathogens are typically present in such small amounts it is impractical monitor them directly.

Note: Some strains of Escherichia coli , which are a type of fecal coliform, can cause intestinal illness.

Wastewater and Septic System Effluent

Fecal coliform is present in human waste, so the bacteria goes down the drains in our houses and businesses, and can enter streams from illegal or leaky sanitary sewer connections, poorly functioning septic systems, and poorly functioning water treatment plant (WTPs).

Animal Waste

A significant amount of fecal coliform is released in the wastes produced by animals. This can be a serious problem in water near cattle sheds that have poor animal keeping practices and waste is not properly contained. In urban areas, fecal coliform can be contributed to surface water by dog, cat, and human waste when it is carried into storm drains, creeks, and lakes during storms.

Sediment Load

High amounts of sediment are often related to high concentrations of pathogenic bacteria. The bacteria can attach to sediment particles.. Fast-running water can carry more sediment, so higher levels of bacteria can occur during high monsoon season. Bacteria are much more abundant in soil than in water.

Temperature

Bacteria grow faster at higher temperatures. The growth rate slows drastically at very low temperatures.

Nutrients

High levels of nutrients can increase the growth rate of bacteria.

Need expertise in water testing? Contact us for a free consultation today.

Benefits of Nuts

Benefits of Nuts

 

 

Nuts are a very popular food. They’re tasty and can be enjoyed on all kinds of diets.

Nuts are technically considered a fruit. Here is a list of some of the most commonly consumed nuts.

Below are some the key benefits of a few different varieties of nuts:

CASHEW

  • Less fat than other nuts
  • Very high in iron
  • Magnesium levels may help memory recall

ALMOND

  • More fiber and protein than other nuts
  • Keeps bones healthy
  • Good source of vitamin E, zinc, calcium and magnesium

HAZELNUT

  • Good for skin and hair
  • High source of copper
  • Helpful for digestive tract health

CHESTNUT

  • The only low-fat nut
  • Only nut to contain vitamin C

MACADAMIA

  • Fattiest of all nuts
  • High levels of vitamin E

PEANUT

  • Brain health from high B-vitamin folate
  • High in antioxidants which protects the heart and blood vessels

WALNUTS

  • Improve working memory,problem solving and motor function
  • Contains both omega-3 and omega-6
  • Improving blood flow
  • May keep bad cholesterol away

PISTACHIO

  • Richness in gamma-tocopherol may protect against lung cancer
  • May help reduce erectile dysfunction
  • The richest source of potassium of all nuts

PINE NUT

  • The combo of magnesium and potassium help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow
  • Helps with energy

PECAN

  • Contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B & E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc
  • Prevents constipation
  • Prevents hair loss

Different kinds of nuts have different properties. Need expertise in testing of the above products? Contact us for a free consultation today.

 

 

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