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Fresh cut manufacturing for food service
Fresh cut manufacturing for food service
Use Producepak app to manage the entire Fresh cut packing, storage, fresh cut sales & traceability packing operation for any Fresh cut packing, storage, fresh cut sales & traceability specialty products including spinach, baby kale, green coral, mignonette, butter lettuce, 4 leaf salads, baby cos, rocket, arugula, chives, basil, bunch dill, bunch kale curly, bunch kale deck, bunch mint, bunch silver-beet, bunch tarragon, bunch thyme, tuscan kale, chard, continental parsley, cochran iceberg, cochran cos, mizuna, chard, salad blends, organic salad packs, Asian mix, braising mix, frissee, organic raw, raddichio, Lollorosa, red romaine, spring mix, wild arugula.
Use Producepak to manage preparation and manufacturing of:
- Fresh Potatoes (retail and food service);
- Fresh Carrots (retail and foodservice), ‘
- Fresh Green Beans, Beets, Broccoli and Cabbage
- Fresh ‘Small’ Potatoes
- Frozen Vegetables (cut, diced and shredded)
- Contract production
- Fresh Vegetables and Fruit;
- Fresh cut vegetables and fruit (we use Alberta vegetables that are seasonally available);
- Retail, Deli, Food Services and Further Food Manufacturing products.
Fresh blanched products, coleslaw, fresh cut, prepared fruit & vegetable manufacturing app
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.
According to the International Fresh-Cut Produce Association (IFPA), fresh-cut fruit and vegetable products (FFVP) are defined as fruits or vegetables that have been trimmed, peeled or cut into a 100% usable product which has been packaged to offer consumers high nutrition and flavour while still maintaining its freshness [1, 2]. The importance of fresh-cut produce lies in its major characteristics of freshness, convenience, nutrient retention and sensory quality while providing extended shelf life [3, 4]. Fresh-cut fruits and vegetables (FFV) are products partially prepared and which require no additional preparation for their use. This makes it unavoidable that their overall quality diminishes during processing and storage. It is made more so, as the operations involved in preparing fresh-cut products damage the integrity of the cells, promotes contact between enzymes and substrates, increases the entry of microorganisms and creates stress conditions on the fresh-cut produce [4, 5].
According to Artes-Hernandez et al.  FFVP are also referred to as products prepared with slight peeling, cutting, shredding, trimming and sanitizing operations and which have been packed under semipermeable films and stored under refrigerated temperature. Fresh-cut products are also reported to contain similar nutrients and ingredients as whole products with the added advantage of short time preparation and the low prices at which they are been sold . Fresh-cut products constitute a major rapidly growing food segment which is of interest to food processors and consumers. The fresh-cut industry is expanding more rapidly than other sectors of the fruit and vegetable market due to its supply of both the food service industry, retail outlet as well as its expanding production and access to new markets across the globe. The growth rate of the sector is reported to be in the region of billions of dollars in recent years with USA as the main producer and consumer while the UK and France follows after . FFVP presently sold in markets across the globe includes: lettuce (cleaned, chopped, shredded), spinach/leafy greens (washed and trimmed), broccoli and cauliflower (florets), cabbage (shredded), carrots (baby, sticks, shredded), celery (sticks), onions (whole peeled, sliced, diced), potatoes and other roots (peeled, sliced), mushrooms (sliced), jicama/zucchini/cucumber (sliced, diced), garlic (fresh peeled, sliced) as well as tomato and pepper (sliced) .
Despite the fact that food processing methods extend the shelf life of fruit and vegetable products, processing of fresh-cut produce however reduces the shelf life of the commodity, rendering the product highly perishable as a result . This biological changes may lead to flavour loss, cut-surface discolouration, decay, rapid softening, increased rate of vitamin loss, shrinkage as well as shorter shelf life of the fresh-cut produce. Interactions between intracellular and intercellular enzymes with substrates as well as increased water activity may also lead to flavour and textural changes upon processing . A major effect of fresh-cut processing is stress on vegetable tissues with the resultant phytochemical accumulation and loss induced through reduced activity in key enzymes of secondary metabolic pathways. Fresh-cut processing also results in cell breakdown as well as the release of intracellular products such as oxidizing enzymes thereby quickening product decay .
Fresh cut processing > Fresh cut manufacturing for food service
Several factors are reported to affect the overall quality of fresh-cut produce. Among many of such factors is appearance [1, 9]. Appearance according to Kays  and Lante and Nicoletto  in combination with size, shape, form, colour as well as the absence of defects are factors which greatly affects the purchase of fresh-cut produce by consumers. All of these factors can also be influenced by several pre-harvest factors. Available nutrients inherent in fruits and made available upon consumption includes antioxidant vitamins beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A), α-tocopherol (vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). Research has also shown that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables reduces risk of cancers, cardiovascular diseases and several inflammations [12, 13]. This apart from regular body exercise and genetics has made fruit and vegetable consumption one of the main factors that contributes to a healthy lifestyle. With studies showing the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables, consumption of FFVP therefore promotes health through increase in the supply of antioxidant and other phytochemical nutrients to the body.
Fresh blanched products, coleslaw, fresh cut, prepared fruit & vegetable manufacturing app
FFV have been known to have a shorter shelf-life compared to intact fruit and vegetable products due mainly to processing. Several processes involved in the production of FFVP have been known to alter greatly the shelf stability of the cut-produce. There are traditional processing procedures involved in obtaining fresh-cut products and this procedures usually requires an order of unit operations such as peeling, trimming, shredding, dicing, cutting, washing/disinfecting, drying and packaging. Shelf life extension of the cut produce is therefore dependent on a combination of these unit operations as well as proper temperature management during storage, use of antibrowning agents, proper packing conditions as well as good manufacturing and handling practices [6, 7]. The unit operations required in the handling and processing of FFVP is shown in Figure 1.
An essential aspect of processing of fresh-cut produce is cutting. Cutting helps divide whole harvested fruit and vegetable products into minute fractions before packaging. The effect of cutting however on the products is the wounding stress which the cut tissues are allowed to suffer thus accelerating the rate of spoilage and deterioration of the cut produce . Cutting has been attributed to be the main factor responsible for the deterioration of FFV thereby enabling the product to experience a more rapid rate of deterioration than whole products . Cutting increases respiration rate , induces deteriorative changes associated with plant tissue senescence and thus the consequential decrease in shelf life when compared to the unprocessed produce . Cutting shape as well as the sharpness of the cutting blade has been attributed as some factors that affect the quality attributes of fresh-cut products [17, 18]. The works of Portela and Cantwell  showed that melon cylinders cut with a blunt blade demonstrated higher ethanol concentrations, off-odour scores, electrolyte leakage, and increased potential for ethylene secretion when compared to products processed with a sharp blade. It was also reported that use of sharp cutting implements reduces wound response, lignin accumulation, white blush, softening and microbial growth in fresh-cut carrots [18, 20–22]. Cutting-induced injury has been implicated as affecting the immediate visual quality of fresh-cut products and has also been known to have longer-term effects on metabolism with the concomitant quality changes that are detected at a later time. The actual cutting process results in great tissue disruption as formerly sequestered enzymes and substrates mix are found to mix, hydrolytic enzymes released, while signalling-induced wounding responses may be initiated .
Pre-coolers help and fresh cuts stay fresh longer
During the process of cutting, phenolic metabolism takes place: breakage of the plasma membrane with the resultant effect of inducing oxidative enzymatic reactions thus triggering browning of tissues and oxidation of polyphenols [14, 24]; and production of injury signals which induces the secretion of more secondary metabolites including phenolic antioxidants to heal the wound damage [14, 25, 26]. It has been reported that the content of phenolic acids increases in fresh-cut products. This fact can be attributed to the cutting of fresh fruits and vegetables with knives thereby inducing the activity of polyphenol oxidase (PPO) in the cut fresh fruit and vegetables. FFV are thus easily susceptible to browning reaction as a result [27, 28]. Accumulation of phytochemicals can also be as a result of altered O2 and CO2 levels during packaging as well as the use of preservatives such as  ascorbic and citric acid [28–31].
Fresh-cut and ready-to-eat ranges will become more popular
Final hurdle removed for bananas in fresh-cut industry
Wounding as a result of cutting has been attributed as one of the basic source of stress experienced by fresh-cut produce. Some factors can however affect the wound response of the fresh-cut produce and these factors include stage of maturity, cultivar, storage, processing temperature, cutting method, water vapour pressure as well as O2 and CO2 levels [18, 19]. According to literature, wounding stress as a result of cutting of fruit and vegetables has been shown to increase the antioxidant activity as well as the polyphenolic content in fresh-cut produce such as carrots [32, 33], celery , lettuce , broccoli , mushroom, onions, and mangoes . Consequences of wounding includes increase in respiration rate; production of ethylene; oxidative browning; water loss; and degradation of membrane lipids [4, 5]. This therefore increases the susceptibility of FFV to increased perishability than their source commodity .
Concentrations of 50–200 ppm and exposure time of 5 min of chlorine is commonly applied as hypochlorous acid and hypochlorite and as disinfectant in the FFV industry in order to enhance microbial safety of the produce [1, 49]. The exposure time of 5 min (depending on the microorganism) has been shown in literature as the maximum exposure time required as longer times of > 5–30 min did not result in increased removal of the pathogenic organisms [39, 53].
In the handling and processing of FFV, common practices are undertaken and needs to be taken note of. These practices consist of protection from damage as a result of poor handling and poor functioning of machinery, foreign body contamination, improper washing, drying and unhygienic practices by personnel. Hence worker sanitation which is most often neglected in the fresh cut industry in collaboration with good manufacturing practices must be enforced by food processors. In accompanying this process, training of food handlers in food hygiene techniques must be undertaken .
Presently, new and alternative technologies for safety, improved quality and extended shelf life of processed fresh-cut products have been developed. Such technologies include: ozone (O3), a strong oxidizing agent in destroying microorganisms which has also been suggested as an alternative to sanitizers due to its effectiveness at low concentrations, short contact times and in the breakdown of nontoxic products; chlorine dioxide (ClO2), which is known for its efficacy against pathogenic spores, bacteria and viruses; organic acids and calcium (Ca) salts applied for maintenance of cell wall structure and firmness (Ca), inhibition of enzymatic and non-enzymatic browning as well as in the prevention of microbial growth at heights that did not affect flavour of the fresh-cut products with their efficacy against microbes higher for bacteria than molds; electrolyzed water employed due to its strong bactericidal effect against pathogens and spoilage microbes .
It has been shown that fresh-cut process increases the metabolic activity mainly as a result of the enzymes polyphenol oxidase (PPO) causing discoloration and peroxidase (POD) causing enzymatic browning as well as de-compartmentalization of enzymes and substrates in tissues causing changes in flesh colour . PPO can induce the browning occurrence by catalyzing the oxidation of phenol to o-quinones which are polymerized to produce brown pigments. Postharvest techniques maintaining the quality of fresh-cut fruit have been investigated by several researchers [55–57] including physical and chemical treatments. Many anti-browning agents or mixtures have been investigated like: calcium ascorbate with citric acid and N-acetyl-L-cysteine , citric acid , ascorbic acid with citric acid and calcium chloride , 4-hexylresorcinol with potassium sorbate and D-isoascorbic acid  and modelling of the effects anti-browning agents on colour change in fresh-cut .
In a study using mathematical modelling (Table 1), the effects of different anti-browning compounds (ascorbic acid, citric acid, L-cysteine and glutathione) at four concentrations of 0% as control, 0.5, 1.5 and 2.5% on L*-value, hue angle, brown scores and brown pigments of fresh-cut mangoes were investigated by Techavuthiporn and Boonyaritthonghai  and they observed similar changing tendency of L*-value and hue angle decreasing in time during storage at 10°C, while the brown scores and amount of brown pigment increased. They also observed that treatment with L-cysteine or glutathione was effective in suppressing tissue metabolism, PPO and POD activities, while citric acid significantly inhibited the growth of microorganisms.
The Federal Government provides advice on healthful eating, including consuming a diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables, through the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the related MyPyramid food guidance system (Ref. 1, 2). In response, per capita consumption data show that Americans are eating more fresh produce (Ref. 3). With $12 billion in annual sales in the past few years (Ref. 4), the fresh-cut sector of the produce industry is its fastest growing segment. As the fresh-cut produce market continues to grow, the processors of such produce are faced with the challenge of processing an increasing variety and volume of products in a manner that ensures the safety of this produce. From 1996 to 2006, seventy-two foodborne illness outbreaks were associated with the consumption of fresh produce. Of these produce related outbreaks, 25 percent (18 outbreaks) implicated fresh-cut produce (Ref. 5). Many factors may play a role in the incidence and reporting of foodborne illness outbreaks that implicate fresh produce, such as an aging population that is susceptible to foodborne illness, an increase in global trade, a more complex supply chain, improved surveillance and detection of foodborne illness, improvements in epidemiological investigation, and increasingly better methods to identify pathogens (Refs. 6 thru 12).
Processing fresh produce into fresh-cut products increases the risk of bacterial growth and contamination by breaking the natural exterior barrier of the produce (Ref. 6).The release of plant cellular fluids when produce is chopped or shredded provides a nutritive medium in which pathogens, if present, can survive or grow (Ref. 6). Thus, if pathogens are present when the surface integrity of the fruit or vegetable is broken, pathogen growth can occur and contamination may spread. The processing of fresh produce without proper sanitation procedures in the processing environment increases the potential for contamination by pathogens (see Appendix B, "Foodborne Pathogens Associated with Fresh Fruits and Vegetables."). In addition, the degree of handling and product mixing common to many fresh-cut processing operations can provide opportunities for contamination and for spreading contamination through a large volume of product. The potential for pathogens to survive or grow is increased by the high moisture and nutrient content of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, the absence of a lethal process (e.g., heat) during production to eliminate pathogens, and the potential for temperature abuse during processing, storage, transport, and retail display (Ref. 6). Importantly, however, fresh-cut produce processing has the capability to reduce the risk of contamination by placing the preparation of fresh-cut produce in a controlled, sanitary facility.
The Fresco Senso brand is very respectful of the environment. All the new references (150 g mix) 'with banana' will Fresh blanched products, coleslaw, fresh cut, prepared fruit & vegetable manufacturing appavailable in 'easy open' glass packages, made of R-PET, made of 20-30% of recycled material. From January, the two references 'Cuori di Frutta' will be equipped with a bamboo stick. The 'Energia e Gusto', will have a wooden fork. Commitment to research and environmental sustainability remains at the heart of Agribologna's projects.
Contact and information:
Consorzio Agribologna S.c.a.
This guidance is intended for all fresh-cut produce processing firms, both domestic firms and firms importing or offering fresh-cut product for import into the U.S., to enhance the safety of fresh-cut produce by minimizing the microbial food safety hazards. This guidance does not set binding requirements or identify all possible preventive measures to minimize microbial food safety hazards. We recommend that each fresh-cut produce processor assess the recommendations in this guidance and then tailor its food safety practices to the processor's particular operation. Alternative approaches that minimize microbial food safety hazards may be used so long as they are consistent with applicable laws and regulations.
This guidance primarily addresses microbiological hazards and appropriate control measures for such hazards. However, some chapters in the guidance discuss physical and chemical hazards.
FDA's guidance documents, including this guidance, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities. Instead, guidances describe the Agency's current thinking on a topic and should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited. The use of the word should in Agency guidances means that something is suggested or recommended, but not required.
"Fresh cut and ready-made products are no longer a trend, but a need"
Fresh-cut Produce: This guidance covers fresh-cut fruits and vegetables that have been minimally processed (e.g., no lethal kill step), and altered in form, by peeling, slicing, chopping, shredding, coring, or trimming, with or without washing or other treatment, prior to being packaged for use by the consumer or a retail establishment. Examples of fresh-cut products are shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, salad mixes (raw vegetable salads), peeled baby carrots, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, cut celery stalks, shredded cabbage, cut melon, sliced pineapple, and sectioned grapefruit.(2) Fresh-cut produce does not require additional preparation, processing, or cooking before consumption, with the possible exception of washing(3) or the addition of salad dressing, seasoning, or other accompaniments. As the fresh-cut produce market continues to evolve, the scope of this guidance may need to be modified to address new or novel types of products.
Fresh-cut Produce and Current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements for foods (CGMPs) (21 CFR Part 110) (4): FDA's regulations in 21 CFR Part 110 establish CGMPs in manufacturing, packing, or holding human food. However, raw agricultural commodities (RACs), as defined in section 201(r) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), are not subject to the CGMP requirements by virtue of the exclusion in 21 CFR 110.19. Section 201(r) defines a raw agricultural commodity as any food "in its raw or natural state…." Fresh-cut fruits and vegetables are not RACs because they are no longer "in [their] raw or natural state" and instead have become "processed food" as that term is defined in the Act. Section 201(gg) of the Act defines a "processed food" as "any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydrating, or milling." Under 21 CFR 110.3, the definitions in section 201 of the Act apply to Part 110. Thus, fresh-cut fruits and vegetables are appropriately considered "processed foods" and are subject to the CGMPs in Part 110. The conclusion that fresh-cut produce are not RACs is consistent with the preamble to the proposed revisions to the CGMP regulation (44 FR 33238 at 33239, June 8, 1979), which states, when discussing the exclusion for RACs, that such products may be excluded because "food from those commodities is… brought into compliance with the Act at the later stages of manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding." The CGMPs establish food safety practices applicable to processors who manufacture, process, pack, or hold processed food. FDA believes that the recommendations in this guidance complement the CGMPs by suggesting more specific food safety practices for processors of fresh-cut produce.
Fresh-cut Produce and HACCP Systems: A Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system is a prevention-based food safety system designed to prevent, reduce to acceptable levels, or eliminate the microbial, chemical, and physical hazards associated with food production (Ref. 6). One strength of HACCP is its proactive approach to prevent food contamination rather than trying to identify and control contamination after it has occurred.
Although HACCP is not currently required for the processing of fresh-cut produce, the United Fresh Produce Association recommends use of HACCP principles, and according to the association, many segments of the fresh-cut produce industry have adopted HACCP principles.(5)
FDA encourages fresh-cut produce processors to take a proactive role in minimizing microbial food safety hazards potentially associated with fresh-cut produce. We recommend that fresh-cut processors consider a preventive control program to build safety into the processing operations for fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. Awareness of the common risk factors discussed in this guidance and implementation of preventive controls determined by a firm to be appropriate to its individual operations will enhance the safety of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. FDA also recommends that processors encourage the adoption of safe practices (See Chapter IV) by their partners throughout the supply chain, including produce growers, packers, distributors, transporters, importers, exporters, retailers, food service operators, and consumers, to ensure that the processor's efforts will be enhanced.
This guidance begins with a discussion of primary production and harvesting of fresh produce in Chapter IV and continues with recommendations for fresh-cut processing in four areas-- (1) personnel health and hygiene, (2) training, (3) building and equipment, and (4) sanitation operations. Following this discussion, the guidance covers fresh-cut produce production and processing controls from product specification to storage and transport. The final chapters provide recommendations on recordkeeping and on recalls and tracebacks.
Left: David López Cerro, commercial and marketing director; right: Mikel Elorza, general director of Primeale.
Fresh cut products take hold at Fruit Attraction
Primeale has developed new products that facilitate the preparation of vegetables, and these are included in the Gourmet range. In addition to offering an innovative concept for cooking that helps the consumer enjoy a quality dish in just a few minutes, the greatest feature of the Primeale Gourmet brand is the quality of its carefully selected products.
For David López Cerro, commercial and marketing director of Primeale, the company's participation in this edition “has been our passage to adulthood. We are no longer just a producer of fresh, unprocessed products, and we are seeking to revolutionize the sector with new formats and innovative concepts when it comes to cooking.”
Among the new releases presented by Primeale there is a microwave range consisting of three references of Jazzy and Laurette potatoes with an exclusive packaging of kraft paper and another of Brussels sprouts hearts, in addition to Bobby beans ready to be cooked after just two knife cuts. “Customers who have visited us at our stand have seen this revolution and have expressed their satisfaction with our commitment and with the way we perceive the future of the category. We are very happy with the launch of the Primeale Gourmet brand and the drive towards innovation that it has given us,” said López Cerro.
"If your team believes in an idea, customers will too"
Regarding the brand attributes of Primeale Gourmet, which are in line with trends like convenience and practicality, Mikel Elorza, general director of Primeale España says: “If you want your clients to believe in your ideas, everyone at the company has to believe in them first. The launch of the Primeale Gourmet brand is the result of a necessary commitment from all workers to a premium range. It is a change of mentality in which we have been working for several years.”
Trends turned into needs
Recently, there has been a boom of fresh-cut produce all over the world. According to a 9-year-long trend, at the end of 2005 the USA fresh-cut produce sales should be $12 billions, with an increase of +25% respect to 2003, indicating the sector as the most in expansion of all the fruit and vegetable market. Fresh-cut industry is rising in many European countries with UK, France and Italy as share leaders. UK is the leader of the sector, supplying 120,000 tons of fresh-cut salads in 2004, equal to 700M€; France follows with 77,000 tons considering fresh-cut and grilled/steamed vegetables. In Italy, after a slow beginning the sales exceeded 42,000 tons of production corresponding to 375M€ in 2004. Postharvest phases of fresh-cut vegetables are directed to prepare the ready-to-eat products and to prolong their shelf-life, preserving food sensory and nutritional quality. These living products require special care during the whole handling process, from harvest to consumption, to guarantee premium quality and ensuring food safety. Processing fresh-cut produce implies living part manipulations, which trigger degradation metabolic processes and microbial activities leading to shelf-life reduction. Leafy vegetables, particularly baby leaf salads, are consumer most favourite, but they are very delicate and susceptible to process manipulations. Thus, controls and innovation technology implementations must be pursued to optimize the whole processing procedures throughout the chain. Critical stages to be improved include early cold chain implementation, starting from harvesting up to the retailer store, storing and shipping conditions prior to reach the processing-house, logistics, processing inputs. Lack of National legislations in most of EU countries and of EU legislations limits innovation process research and implementation.
The functions of sustainable packaging
Fresh-cut products are fresh fruits and vegetables that have been prepared (cleaned, washed, sanitized, cut), packaged, and held under refrigeration until consumption. The fresh-cut sector continues to develop innovative and convenient products.
Consumers demand safe, high quality fresh-cut products that have extended shelf-life, but also good eating quality. These demands require that fresh-cut processors and handlers meet rigorous standards.
This workshop provides an intensive and substantive overview of fresh-cut production, processing, packaging, distribution and quality assurance. Participants gain working knowledge of established and new procedures through topic-related sessions and demonstrations.
In 2020, the workshop will feature discussions on fresh-cut marketing, new packaging, product physiology, microbial control, and sensory evaluation. And our practical demonstration on the impact of temperature on packaged product quality reinforces all the temperature-related discussions.
The fresh-cut industry and this workshop have changed considerably over the past 20 years. Join us if you are new to the fresh-cut industry, or if you want updates on many topics important to the success of the fresh-cut fruit and vegetable sector.
Fresh cut manufacturing
- Protecting the quality of the raw material
- Facilitating the product's transportation and distribution
- Attracting the attention of the consumer
- Providing information to the customers
- And, in the case of microwaveable products, serving as a medium for cooking."
- Physiology and biochemistry of fresh-cut products
- Respiration, ethylene production, wound reactions
- Noninvasive quality analysis
- Sensory quality of fresh-cut products
- Treatments to maintain product quality
- Pre-process storage impacts on quality
- Ripening and conditioning for fresh-cut products
- Technical aspects of processing equipment and selection
- Fruit and vegetable preparation procedures
- Cooling and storage options
- Accurate temperature measurement
- Temperature control during transportation and distribution
- Impact of temperature on product sensory and nutritional quality
Microbiology and Sanitation
- Hygienic equipment design
- Microorganisms of concern in fresh-cut products
- Validation and verification in wash water systems
- Food safety considerations for fresh-cut
Modified Atmospheres and Packaging
- Optimizing MA on product quality and shelf-life
- MAP and temperature interactions
- Packaging selection for fresh-cut products
- New developments in fresh-cut packaging
Specific Fresh-cut Product Information
- Sessions on product commodity performance as fresh-cut groups
Looking ahead: emerging trends in the Fresh-Cut industry
- Enhanced fresh-cut opportunities with ethylene
- Emerging technologies for sanitizers and process validation
- Novel food waste recovery and recycling systems
- New Technological advances and trends for Fresh Cut
According to the Produce Marketing Association (PMA, 2014), the U.S. market for fresh-cut vegetables and fruits is estimated at $27 billion annually ($16 billion foodservice and $11 billion retail) with bagged salads representing 61% of the market, other fresh-cut vegetables 27%, and fresh-cut fruit 11%. Fresh-cuts thus account for 16% of total retail produce sales. Postharvest losses of fresh-cut produce are difficult to estimate but given the highly perishable nature of fresh-cuts compared to intact produce, the retail value of fresh-cut produce losses and wastage at all levels may exceed $9-10 billion annually. All previous iterations of this project have worked closely with industry, particularly the United Fresh Produce Association (UFPA; formed in 2006 by the merger of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and the International Fresh-cut Produce Association), meeting annually at their convention and helping to plan and contributing to the convention educational program. Participants from previous iterations of S294 have joined with the UFPA’s Food Safety & Technology Council (FSTC) for an all-day meeting before each of our annual project meetings. The approach and objectives for this project were developed with input from the FSTC and approved by that body.
The appearance, convenience, and generally high nutritive value of fresh-cut vegetables and fruits drive sales of fresh produce, but repeat sales of fresh-cuts is dependent upon assurance of its safety and the products having pleasing texture and flavor. The industry primarily relies on established technologies derived mainly from practical experience to maintain visual quality and shelf-life with less consideration of the quality characteristics that drive repeat sales such as good flavor retention, maintenance of an appealing texture (crispness, crunchiness), and increased microbial quality leading to extended shelf stability and food safety. Through interaction with the industry we know that current technologies, especially for fresh-cut fruits, do not provide the shelf stability needed to supply long distance domestic markets with optimum flavor quality.
As a result of physiological and microbial deterioration occurring during storage and marketing of fresh produce, and especially fresh-cut produce, there is a continuing need to develop effective, less-damaging treatments for maintaining the sensory quality (appearance, flavor, texture), nutritional value, and food safety of fresh harvested produce (How, 1990). Most of the sales of fresh-cut produce have been in the vegetable (salad, carrot slice) area (Garrett, 2002) and commercial handling practices for fresh-cut vegetables have been described (Barth et al., 2016). Beginning about a decade ago, research and commercial interest has focused more on fresh-cut fruits and melons (Beaulieu et al., 2004; Beaulieu and Gorny, 2016; Candir, 2017; Kader, 2008; Rojas-Grau and Martin-Belloso, 2008; Soliva-Fortuny and Martin-Belloso, 2003). With over 200 different vegetable and fruit crops with potential for development as fresh-cut products, each with unique physiology and handling requirements, an integrated, scientific approach to research and development including microbiological interactions with these products is critically needed.
The conditions on the cut surface of fresh-cut products, with the presence of water and compounds that can be used for nutrition, are ideal for growth of microbes. Unfortunately, as produce consumption has increased in the U.S. in recent years, so has the number of produce-related outbreaks of foodborne illness. Produce-related outbreaks accounted for 12.3% of all reported foodborne outbreaks from 1990 to 2007, compared to only 0.7% in the 1970s (AFF, 2010, Sivapalasingam et al., 2004). More recently, about 24% of all foodborne illnesses from 2004 to 2013 were due to fresh produce (more than any other category; CSPI, 2015). Between 1996 and 2008, lettuce/leafy greens (32.9%), tomatoes (17.1%), and melons (15.9%) comprised two-thirds of produce-related outbreaks (Gravani, 2009). Pathogens of primary concern are Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp., Listeria monocytogenes, and Norwalk-like viruses. From 1996 to 2006, 72 foodborne illness outbreaks were associated with fresh produce consumption with 18 of these connected to fresh-cut produce (FDA 2008). The economic yearly losses due to acute foodborne illness are estimated to be $152 billion, with $39 billion of this loss associated with fresh, processed, and canned produce (Scharff, 2010). The continuing nature of such produce-related outbreaks represents a threat to further increases in per capita consumption due to lowered confidence in the microbial safety of the product by the consuming public. Such outbreaks can also be very costly to growers, processors, shippers and restaurants.