Active Packaging of Cardboard to Extend the Shelf Life of Tomatoes
In order to extend the shelf life of fresh tomatoes using biodegradable materials, an active microcorrugated cardboard tray package was tested for use with fresh Cherry tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum var. cerasiforme). Active packaging characteristics were achieved by coating the interior surface of the cardboard tray with polylactic acid (PLA; 3% w/v) and, after filling with tomatoes, the tray was wrapped with a low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film of 70 or 20 μm thickness and hermetically heat sealed. Uncoated trays were used as control. The trays of tomatoes were stored at 20 ± 0.5 °C and 55 ± 2% relative humidity, for 30 days, and the ethylene concentration in the package atmosphere was measured periodically as an indicator of ripeness. The following fruit quality parameters were also studied: weight loss, surface colour, microbial count, firmness, soluble solids and pH. It was demonstrated that the capacity of PLA to adsorb ethylene and water vapour and the thickness of the LDPE film were decisive for controlling the ethylene concentration of the package atmosphere and for preventing condensation of water vapour on the fruit and film. The active packaging configuration and storage conditions used preserved fruit quality for a month, thus extending the useful life of the tomatoes and saving refrigeration costs.
KeywordsCardboard Active packaging Tomato shelf life PLA LDPE
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