Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Research
Light shortens the life of vegetables


April 30, 2009
By Fruit & Vegetable

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According to various studies undertaken by researchers from the University of La Rioja in Spain, exposure to light reduces the quality of cauliflower, broccoli, chard, leeks and asparagus, which have been processed for sale.

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Recent research from Spain shows exposure to light reduces the quality of cauliflower, broccoli, chard, leeks and asparagus.


 

According to various studies undertaken by researchers from the University of La Rioja in Spain, exposure to light reduces the quality of cauliflower, broccoli, chard, leeks and asparagus, which have been processed for sale.

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Their latest work has been published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, and shows the useful life of chard is reduced by 11 days if it is exposed to light instead of keeping it in the dark, even though it has been covered in the best protective wrap.

“We have established that there is a negative effect on the sensory quality of minimally processed vegetables (MPV) if they are exposed to light. These are foods that are ready for immediate consumption after being washed, peeled, cut and wrapped in protective polymeric wraps” explains Susan Sanz.

Her team has shown that the useful life of leeks is reduced from approximately 26 to 18 days if they are exposed to light, broccoli from 14 to 11 days, and cauliflower from 11 to three days.

Scientists have shown that fresh or near fresh vegetables “do not usually exceed the two weeks’ useful shelf life,” and that light promotes their deterioration since this accelerates the transpiration and respiration of these plants, and changes the way they behave. Sanz does point out that not only is it important not to break the cold chain, but it is also important to control the atmosphere inside the container so that it suits the type of vegetable.

The research team is already carrying out tests to see which is the ideal colour for lights at the point of sale so that the vegetables are not affected so much.