FNRB - Proper Packaging Helps Produce Breathe, Stay Fresh Longer

You can't hear the fruits and veggies in your refrigerator breathe, but they do. They take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. Pairing your fresh produce with a wrapping, or film, best suited to the fruit or veggie's respiratory needs enhances the length of time it will stay fresh and appealing, new tests confirm.

The wraps, newer versions of the familiar, clear-plastic films already used widely in home and commercial kitchens, act as modified-atmosphere packaging that regulates the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from packages of produce.

While the concept isn't new, ongoing experiments by ARS scientists at Beltsville, Md., provide some of the most up-to-date findings about the unique packaging needs of some half-dozen different fruits and veggies, including baby spinach, carrots, cilantro, iceberg and romaine lettuces and salad savoy—a cabbage relative (Journal of Postharvest Biology and Technology, volume 33, pages 51 to 59).

Experiments with fresh cilantro leaves, for example, showed that one such film can keep this tomato-salsa seasoning fresh for up to 14 days—information useful to produce packers and shippers, as well as film manufacturers.