In order to extend the life of fruits and vegetables and preserve them for longer refrigeration, UNAM researchers developed an edible coating with added functional ingredients applied to freshly cut foods.
María de la Luz Zambrano Zaragoza. Credit: Image courtesy of Investigación y Desarrollo
Dr. Maria de la Luz Zambrano Zaragoza, researcher at the Faculty of Higher Cuautitlán (FES) Cuautitlán, explained that the benefits range from having a cut product attractive, “by oxidation, many fruits no longer consumed with this technology, crop losses will decrease also retain nutrients from fruits or vegetables.”
With university technology has been preserved apple cut up to 25 days and a kiwi for two weeks. In addition, their production is costly because it costs 70 pesos a liter of dispersion can be coated 20 kilograms of cut fruit ready to be placed in convenience stores and consumed later.
After nine years of research, university scientists found that if nanocapsules loaded with alpha tocopherol and beta-carotene in fruits and fresh-cut vegetables are dispersed, homogeneous film forms a flexible, inhibits enzymatic browning and prolongs the life of these.
“The microencapsulated we design are food additives with a similar to that of a ball of nanometric size ranging between one hundred to 500 nanometers structure internally can place you active substance such as lemon oil or rosemary, or antioxidant alpha tocopherol or beta-carotene; drops out of this area of the active substance through the wall that migrate to the fruit achieving their conservation,” explained the academic responsible for the investigation.
Physically, the coating is not apparent to the eye, is not a film due to immersion applied to the fruit surface active substances absorbed, obtaining a product ready to eat.
In addition, coatings with different flavors can be developed to make the product attractive.
Scientific development already patented and won first place awards in the “Development Program Patenting and Innovation” (PROFOPI 2015-2016), whose purpose is promoting a culture of industrial property at UNAM. Following this, researchers aim to bring to a pilot plant for industrial production.
“One of the interests of the UNAM is to contribute to society with useful technologies that can be marketed well and export,” concluded Dr. Zambrano Zaragoza.