Romani et al - Physiology and quality of fresh cut potatoes

Santina Romani, Pietro Rocculi* e Marco Dalla Rosa
Dipartimento di Scienze degli Alimenti, Università di Bologna, Campus Scienze degli Alimenti, Piazza Goidanich 60, 47023 Cesena (FC)

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Key words: peeling, cutting, wounding response, dipping, shelf-life.

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Abstract

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Fresh-cut fruit and vegetables are minimally processed products that have to maintain their quality (appearance, texture, flavour and nutritive value) similar to that of the fresh product. The fundamental principle underlying the quality of these commodities is that they have metabolic active tissues and, as a consequence, show physiological response to preparation procedures as well as to the environment created in the package in which they are enclosed. In this product category, fresh-cut potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) could have a great importance from a commercial point of view, because of their high convenience, even if they are susceptible to a variety of physiological and microbiological phenomena during storage. Because of economic, labour and hygiene considerations, the potato processing industry has seen promises in offering potatoes as a freshcut product (pre-peeled, fresh-cut or sliced). Minimal processing for fresh-cut potato production includes raw material selection, washing, peeling and cutting, pre-treatments, drying, weighing and packaging. From a biological point of view, industrial treatments for the fresh-cut potato production can cause stress to the tuber and, therefore, knowledge of how the plant material will be affected in relation to time, environment and industrial manipulation is of fundamental importance for process optimization and quality assurance. The purpose of this review is to analyse the effects of the different minimal processing steps on the physiology and related quality of fresh-cut potatoes. To this aim, the manuscript has been divided into the following sections: production of fresh-cut potatoes; physiology and quality of fresh-cut potatoes (Respiration and metabolic consequences of minimal processing, Quality modifications, Colour and visual quality, Texture, Microbial spoilage, Flavour, Nutritional aspects); hurdle technology and fresh-cut potatoes (Sanitization, Pre-treatments, Modified atmosphere packaging, Refrigeration); future perspectives. Particular attention is given to the newest studies on processing innovation and innovative scientific approaches for a better understanding of fresh-cut products as biological systems. In this direction, the use of ozone sanitization, natural dipping pre-treatments and/or coatings (e.g. edible film enriched in ascorbic and citric acid), and modified atmosphere packaging at high O2 levels result the most promising and non-invasive techniques for the preservation of fresh-cut potatoes. As far as physiological studies of the product are concerned, fundamental metabolic research for process optimisation and quality assurance is needed. For this aim, isothermal calorimetry may provide a versatile tool to conduct fundamental metabolic studies of the effect of different processing steps on the quality and shelf-life of fresh-cut potatoes.

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