Laboratory technique offers low-cost alternative to extending produce freshness, French researchers claim

A technique to preserve fresh produce that was first developed for military and outer space use has great potential in everyday commercial fruit and vegetable storage, a team of French researchers has claimed.

Ethylene is well-known to cause over-ripening in stored produce, and various technologies exist to minimize this. Writing in the American Chemical Society journal Chemical Reviews, the team based at the University of Strasbourg argue that photocatalytic oxidation is a cheap, sustainable and under-exploited technique to remove the gas from the storage atmosphere.

Already in use in generic air and water purification systems, photocatalytic oxidation employs the catalyst titanium dioxide together ultraviolet light to turn volatile compounds into carbon dioxide and water.

The technique could be modified  to oxidise ethylene specifically on a commercial scale, the authors say, urging academics and industrialists to adapt the technique to the particular needs of the fresh produce sector.

They conclude: "Worldwide food technology could take advantage of photocatalytic technology to provide health and economic benefits, and to increase food quality and availability by reducing post-harvest losses of fresh produce."


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