New washing treatment conserves strawberry properties

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New washing treatment conserves strawberry properties

Researchers have discovered washing strawberries in a combination of oxygenated water and acetic acid, known as peracetic acid, is less dangerous than using chlorine, website reported.

Argentina's Universidad Nacional del Litoral (UNL) chemical engineering specialist María Elida Pirovani, said they decided to study alternatives to using chlorine whose reactions reduce strawberries' nutritional benefits.

"Fruits are washed and disinfected with chlorinated compounds 90% of the time, which causes reactions with both organic and inorganic substances, generating by-product reactions which can become cancerous.

"However, we started disinfecting with peracetic acid, whose unquestionable advantage is that it doesn't generate such reactions."

According to an Institute of Food Technology (ITA) expert, peracetic acid isn't a health risk because its by-products are vinegar and oxygen which are both harmless.

Pirovani said fruit conservation was aimed at finding ways to optimise treatment without compromising beneficial bioactive compounds.

"We tested peracetic acid at various dilutions to see which were effective enough to destroy harmful microorganisms and not alter the fruit's bioactive compounds."

The study looked at how varying conditions of temperature, peracetic acid concentration and exposure time could modify vitamin C, polyphenols and anthocyanins.

"We found that as we increased the peracetic acid concentration vitamin C decreased, but it was not a significant decrease. On the otherhand, the chemical transformation of ascorbic acid reduces itself to dehydroascorbic acid, which is a form of vitamin C."

They analyzed washing times discovering 60-120 seconds was best but saw no significant changes with different washing temperatures.

Pirovani stressed that although the study was confined to strawberries the same process could be applied to other fruits.

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