Chitosan was produced from Hermetia illucens pupal exuviae by heterogeneous and homogeneous deacetylation. Tomato fruits (Solanum lycopersicum), that are one of the most grown and consumed food throughout the world, were coated with 0.5 and 1% chitosan, applied by dipping or spraying, and stored at room temperature or 4 °C, for a storage period of 30 days. Statistical analysis give different results depending on the analysed parameters: heterogeneous chitosan, indeed, had a better effect than the homogenous one in maintaining more stable physico-chemical parameters, while the homogenous chitosan improved the total phenols, flavonoids and antioxidant activity. Chitosan coatings applied by spraying were more effective in all the analyses. Chitosan derived from H. illucens always performed similarly to the commercial chitosan. However, a general better performance of insect-derived chitosan on the concentration of phenolics and flavonoids, and the antioxidant activity was observed as compared to the commercial one. Chitosan coating has already been successfully used for preservation of fresh fruits, as alternative to synthetic polymers, but this is the first investigation of chitosan produced from an insect for this application. These preliminary results are encouraging regarding the validation of the insect H. illucens as a source of chitosan.
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