Antioxidant properties and shelf-life extension of fresh-cut tomatoes stored at different temperatures
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BACKGROUND: The feasibility of using modified atmosphere packaging (5 kPa O2 + 5 kPa CO2) to maintain the antioxidant properties of fresh-cut tomatoes during shelf-life was assessed through storage at different temperatures (5, 10, 15 and 20 ◦C). Health-related compounds, antioxidant capacity, microbiological counts, physicochemical parameters and in-package atmosphere of tomato slices were determined. RESULTS: Initial lycopene, vitamin C and phenolic contents and physicochemical parameters of tomato slices were well maintained for 14 days at 5 ◦C. Lycopene and total phenolic contents were enhanced over time in tomato slices stored at 15 and 20 ◦C. However, this increase in antioxidant compounds of fresh-cut tomatoes during storage may be associated with excessive amounts of CO2 (R2 = 0.5679–0.7328) in the packages due to microbial growth. Although keeping tomato slices at temperatures above 10 ◦C increased their antioxidant content, the shelf-life of the product was reduced by up 4 days. CONCLUSIONS: A storage temperature of 5 ◦C is appropriate for maintaining the microbiological shelf-life of fresh-cut tomatoes for up to 14 days and also allows the antioxidant properties of tomato slices to be retained over this period, thus reducing wounding stress and deteriorative changes.