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3c__Standardization_of_Quality - F r e s h C u t P r o d u...

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Fresh-Cut Products: Maintaining Quality and Safety STANDARDTZNION OF QTJALITY By Adel A. Kader and Beth Mitcham Quality of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables is a combination of attributes that determine their value as human food. These quality factors include visual appearance (freshness, color, defects, and decay), texture (crispness, turgidity, juiciness, firmness, toughness, and tissue integrity), flavor (taste and smell), nutritive value (vitamins A and C, minerals, and dietary fiber), and safety (absence of chemical residues and microbial contamination). Quality of the fresh cut products depends upon quality of the intact commodity and its mainte- nance until preparation, method of preparation, and subsequent handling conditions (speed of cooling, maintaining optimum temperature and relative humidity, expedited marketing, and proper sanita- tion). Fresh-cut operations should not be viewed as a way to utilize inferior quality, overmature, or defec- tive commodities that can not be marketed intact. Only good quality intact fruits and vegetables and cultivars that are more suitable for preparation of cut products should be used in order to assure good quality for the consumer. Factors Influencing Composition and Quality of Intact Commodities 1. Genetic factors: For many fruits and vegetables there are large differences among cultivars in composition and quality. For example, vitamin A content of carrots ranges from 8,500 to 19,500 IU per 100 grams and flesh browning potential varies greatly among apple and pear cultivars. Use of broccoli and cauliflower cultivars that form less compact heads may facilitate cutting the florets with less damage. It is possible that new cultivars with desired characteristics will be developed through plant breeding and biotechnology; examples include lower polyphenol oxidase activity (less browning of cut products), reduced activities of cell waII degrad- ing enzymes (better firmness retention and less exudation of cell sap from cut products), and/or better flavor (higher sugars, lower acidity, more intense aroma, no off-flavors).
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