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Effects of packaging and storage conditions on the freshness of leafy vegetables (Brassica rapa)

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  1. Introduction
  2. Objectives
  3. Methodology
  4. Results
  5. Discussion
  6. Conclusion

A wide range of fresh horticultural products contribute to a major component of the agricultural food produce available for consumption nowadays. But these products are highly perishable and if correct post-harvest measures are not employed, it could lead to drastic reduction in product quality, resulting in major losses for the producer (Gago et al., 2011).

Some of the factors involved in this quality deterioration are: (a) Transpiration from the plant tissues which results in losses in appearance (by wilting and shrivelling), nutritional quality, textural quality (loss of crispness, softening and juiciness) and other quantitative losses. It can be controlled by applying surface coatings and other moisture barriers or by environmental manipulation by maintaining a high relative humidity. (b) The action of microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria on the crops results in postharvest rots, which regularly occur due to coarse handling along the market chain. (c) The promotion of aging by ethylene in harvested horticultural crops results in acceleration of deterioration and induces yellowing of green tissues, thus reducing quality of leafy and floral vegetables. (d) Even after harvest, respiration continues and the heat produced causes the produce to warm up increasing chances of deterioration. So respiration needs to be slowed by active cooling to decrease the respiration rate. Produce with high respiration rates are rapidly perishable and hence temperature control becomes vital for these products. (e) Insects can also be carried on horticultural produce during postharvest handling. These insects could feed on the produce causing deterioration resulting in consumer dissatisfaction (Kader & Rolle, 2004).

[...] 152). Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Lu, S. (2007). Effect of packaging on shelf-life of minimally processed Bok Choy (Brassica chinensis). LWT-Food Science and Technology, 460-464. Thompson, A. K. (1998). [...]

[...] These yellowing aspects can be retarded through storage condition modi?cations such as storing at cold temperatures and storing in packaging materials. Moreover, low oxygen or high carbon dioxide environemnts could also be used to reduce yellowing (Xiangyang and Lianqing, 2000). Newspaper was the most ideal packaging material for both the 4oC treatment and the 25oC treatment as they both maintained a high moisture content of 1623.60 ?g/g tissue and 1274.09 ?g/g tissue respectively. Newspaper packaging was a light packaging that allowed light to pass through ensuring the chlorophyll was used in photosynthesis reaction. [...]

[...] Packaging accessories like cups, wraps, trays, pads and liners are used in immobilizing the produce in the container, and also in serving the purposes of aiding moisture retention, ethylene absorption and chemical treatment. These packing methods greatly affect the air flow rates around the product, thereby affecting its temperature and the relative humidity management during storage or in transit (Kader & Rolle, 2004). Temperature is another vital factor in retaining the quality of the produce after harvest. The first approach to increasing the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables is refrigeration. [...]

[...] Figure 2 shows that for all the choy sum packaging used, the 4oC treatment was ideal than the 25oC treatment as it helped maintain the highest chlorophyll content. The high chlorophyll contents at cold temperature were caused by reduced ethylene production because when ethylene is absent, a delay in the ripening process and senescence takes place and thus a longer shelf life is maintained. Ethylene is a natural hormone produced by some fruits as they ripen and it promotes additional ripening of any produce exposed to it. [...]

[...] Moisture content x 100 = x 100 = Sample calculations of the mean chlorophyll content of the treatment, newspaper, at 4 C. From absorbance readings taken on Day 1 Chla (?g/ml) = 12.15 A663 2.55 A646 Chla (?g/ml) = ( 12.15 x 0.731 ) ( 2.55 x 0.301 ) = 8.11410 ?g/ml Chlb (?g/ml) = 18.29 A646 4.58 A663 Chlb (?g/ml) = ( 18.29 x 0.301 ) ( 4.58 x 0.731 ) = 2.15731 ?g/ml Total chlorophyll content (?g/g tissue) = (Chla + Chlb) x 10?g weight of tissue, g = = 1711.902 ?g/g tissue From absorbance readings taken on Day 8 Chla (?g/ml) = ( 12.15 x 0.643 ) ( 2.55 x 0.276 ) = 7.10865 ?g/ml Chlb (?g/ml) = ( 18.29 x 0.276 ) ( 4.58 x 0.643 ) = 2.1031 ?g/ml Total chlorophyll content = = 1535.292 ?g/g tissue Mean chlorophyll content = = 1623.60 ?g/g tissue (625 words) DISCUSSION In this experiment, the chlorophyll content was determined in order to assess how the different treatment conditions of temperature and packaging affects the aspects of quality such as colour, texture, freshness and overall feel quality of the choy sum. [...]

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