Heat treatment and active packaging to improve the storage of fresh-cut melons (Cucumis melo L.)
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Introduction. Melon (Cucumis melo L.) is highly appreciated by consumers due to its sensory attributes and nutritional content. Producing minimally processed fruit has potential, because consumers look for freshness and convenience. However, fresh-cut processing increases the contact enzymes and their respective substrates because the cell tissue rupture, and this causes browning, softening and decay. This study investigated the effect of a combination of heat treatment with active modified atmosphere packaging on the quality of fresh-cut melons. Materials and methods. Whole 'Charentais' melon fruits were dipped in hot water (at 50 degrees C for 30 min), cooled, minimally processed and packaged in traditional polymeric film (oriented polypropylene, OPP) or biodegradable film (polylactic acid, PLA) with an initial flush of a gas mixture composed of 2-3% O-2 and 7-8% CO2. The quality of the fresh-cut melons was monitored for 11 days after treatment. Results and discussion. Gas changes demonstrated that (i) PLA permeability was higher than OPP permeability, and (ii) the heat treatment could temporarily reduce the respiration rate of fresh-cut melons. Heat treatment as a stress could also increase the beta-carotene content. Conclusion. The combination of heat treatment and active MAP with OPP film significantly improved both the decay development and the visual quality of fresh-cut melons for up to 11 days.