Effects of pulsed light treatments and pectin edible coatings on the quality of fresh-cut apples: a hurdle technology approach
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BACKGROUND: Pulsed light treatments (PL) stand as an alternative for the shelf-life extension of fresh-cut products. The antimicrobial effects of pulsed light are well known; however, influence on quality attributes needs to be assessed. This study was aimed at evaluating the application of PL treatments in combination with pectin-based edible coatings enriched with dietary fiber for the preservation of fresh-cut apples. RESULTS: Dipping of fresh-cut apples in ascorbic acid/chloride calcium solution, prior to pectin coating and PL treatments, was effective to minimize browning and softening in apple surfaces. Incorporation of fiber in the pectin coating did not cause any change in microbial loads and sensory acceptability of apple cubes. Pectin-coated PL-treated apple pieces exhibited significantly higher antioxidant activity values than fresh and PL-control samples. At the end of storage, the combination of both treatments resulted into almost a 2 log CFU g-1 reduction of microbial counts. Sensory attribute scores did not fall below the rejection limit throughout 14 days, although the presence of off-odors limited the acceptability of the pectin-coated samples. CONCLUSIONS: Results demonstrate that PL treatments applied to pectin-coated fresh-cut apples may be used to maintain quality attributes, thus conferring prebiotic potential and extending the shelf-life of the product.