Effects of chitosan-essential oil coatings on safety and quality of fresh blueberries

J Food Sci. 2014 May;79(5):M955-60. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12447. Epub 2014 Apr 15.

Abstract

Chitosan coating plus different essential oils was developed and applied to fresh blueberries in order to find more natural treatments to preserve fresh fruit quality and safety during postharvest storage. Studies were 1st performed in vitro where wild-type Escherichia coli and Penicillium digitatum were grown in suitable media, and then subjected to 6 essential oils. Three compounds, carvacrol (CAR), cinnamaldehyde (CIN), and trans-cinnamaldehyde (ECIN) had high antimicrobial capacity and were selected for an in vivo study for postharvest storage of blueberries. The selected essential oils, 0.5% each, were added into a chitosan solution and coated on fresh blueberries. After storage at 5, 10, and 20 °C for various days, fruit firmness and microbial populations were evaluated. The chitosan coating substantially decreased bacteria and yeasts/molds on the fruit, and all 3 essential oils added to the antimicrobial activities. Further dosage experiments showed that the antimicrobial activity remained even when lowering CAR concentration to 0.1% and ECIN to 0.2%. Chitosan, CAR, and ECIN also maintained fruit firmness. Our results suggest that chitosan coatings containing essential oils are effective in extending the shelf life of fresh blueberries.

Practical application: Blueberries are high-value fruit with strong antioxidant capacity and other health-promoting benefits. However, microbial food safety is an increasing concern, and decay and softening limits their storability. A combination of ≥ 0.1% CAR or ≥ 0.2% ECIN with a chitosan coating effectively reduced softening of fresh berries and decay by inhibiting microbial growth.

Keywords: antimicrobial activity; blueberry; chitosan coating; essential oil; postharvest.

MeSH terms

  • Acrolein / analogs & derivatives
  • Acrolein / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Blueberry Plants / microbiology*
  • Chitosan*
  • Cymenes
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food Preservation / methods*
  • Food Storage
  • Fruit / microbiology*
  • Fruit / standards
  • Fungi / drug effects
  • Hardness
  • Humans
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*

Substances

  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Cymenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Acrolein
  • Chitosan
  • carvacrol
  • cinnamic aldehyde