Supplemental Methods To Cold Storage

Although refrigeration is the most effective method for retarding decay of food crops, supplements can be used to control the growth of pathogens, slow respiration rates, control physiological disorders and sprouting, reduce moisture loss, or retard ripening and senescence. Supplemental methods in use include chemical treatments, controlled-and modified-atmosphere storage, waxes, irradiation, and protective packaging.

Chemical treatments are used if they are nontoxic to humans and the commodity, cost-effective, effective for their intended purpose, and approved by federal regulatory agencies, for example, the use of growth regulators to control sprouting of potatoes and onions during storage. Calcium chloride is used to control bitter pit and maintain firmness in apples. Fungicides and bactericides, such as chlorine and sodium o-phenylphenate, are often added to wash water, soak tanks, and hydrocoolers to reduce growth of pathogens prior to and during refrigerated storage (17).

In controlled-atmosphere (CA) storage, commodities are held in atmospheres of specified proportions of oxygen, carbon dioxide, or nitrogen, different from ambient air. This is accomplished by adding or scrubbing oxygen or carbon dioxide in airtight containers or rooms (18-21). In modified-atmosphere storage, storage atmospheres are different from that of ambient air, but are not controlled precisely.

Waxing is used to reduce moisture loss and improve the appearance of the commodity. Fungicides can also be mixed with the wax to retard decay. The effectiveness of the wax depends on the thickness of the coat and the uniformity of application.

Gamma irradiation has been used to disinfect papayas, mangoes, and grapefruit. Commercial use is limited because of the cost and size of necessary equipment and consumer acceptance. Dosages of 1.5-2 kilogray can control decay and sprouting in certain commodities (22), but can also cause discoloration, pitting, softening, abnormal ripening, and flavor loss (23).

Protective packaging safeguards produce against physical damage during packing, such as that acquired from dropping of containers, overfilling of containers, or movement of the commodity within containers (24). Protective packaging must be sturdy and moisture tolerant. Packaging materials include plastic foam, waxed fiberboard, film box liners, wooden pallet bins, nailed wooden boxes, wir-ebound veneer crates, and perforated polyethylene or polypropylene bags.

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