Fruits and vegetables are plant derived products which can be consumed in its raw form without undergoing processing or conversion. Fresh-cut fruits and vegetables (FFV) are products that have been cleaned, peeled, sliced, cubed or prepared for convenience or ready-to-eat consumption but remains in a living and respiring physiological condition. Methods of preserving FFV to retain its wholesomeness includes washing with hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, organic acids, warm water and ozone for disinfestation and sanitization; use of antimicrobial edible films and coatings; and controlled atmosphere storage and modified atmosphere packaging of fruits and vegetables. Exposure of intact or FFV to abiotic stress and some processing methods, induces biosynthesis of phenolic compounds and antioxidant capacity of the produce. Conversely, loss of vitamins and other nutrients has been reported during processing and storage of FFV, hence the need for appropriate processing techniques to retain their nutritional and organoleptic properties. FFV are still faced with the challenge of quality retention and shelf life preservation mostly during transportation and handling, without impacting on the microbiological safety of the product. Hence, food processors are continually investigating processes of retaining the nutritional, organoleptic and shelf stability of FFV.
Part of the book: Postharvest Handling