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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2620

ITI develops minimal processing of tropical fruits technology

Sunil C. Perera - Reporting from Colombo

Colombo, 18 January, ( The Post Harvest Technology Group of the Industrial Technological Institute [ITI] has now developed a technology on minimal processing of under utilized tropical fruits .

The new technology is now available for any interest parties from the Post Harvest Technology Group of the ITI.

The Post Harvest scientists say, a number of tropical fruit varieties, in fact nearly forty percent of Sri Lanka's total fruit and vegetable output is wasted, which in fact amounts to draining annually Rs. 9 billion .

The main reasons is said to be the absence of proper value-added methods and food development technologies.

In order to meet consumer demands for fresh, natural and convenient foods, efforts have to be made to develop new processing methods. Minimal processing followed by modified atmospheric packaging is one such method, which provides the market with wholesome fresh produce. Such processing methods are ideal for underutilized fruits such as jak, breadfruit and durian, which require labor intensive procedures before consumption.

According to the Post Harvest Group of the ITI , Minimal processing is the process undergone by fresh produce whereby its original color and quality is retained in order to ensure consumer acceptance - consumers being now on the path of ‘going natural’. To give a more technical definition, minimally processed foods are those products that maintain the character of fresh foods by retarding the cellular metabolism in biological tissues. Several other terms such as partial processing, fresh-cut, lightly processed, ready to use, or fresh processed are also used to describe those products.

Washing, peeling and cutting resulting in a size reduction of the product constitutes the unit operations involved initially in minimal processing. Due to the cutting process, bruising of the tissues will result, and this allows enzymatic action to take place at the cut surface, bringing about the deterioration of color.

All minimally processed produce are perishable and demonstrate rapid post harvest quality degradation over time under ambient storage. As a result of tissue damage resulting from the above processing operations such as cutting, slicing, peeling and trimming, processed fresh produce is more perishable than unprocessed fresh produce.

Thus minimally processed produce are living plant tissues that usually receive washing, sanitation /preservation treatments or both before being packaged for refrigeration, distribution and marketing. Numerous pre and post processing factors influence retention of high quality or marketable shelf life of minimally processed products.

Research Studies on minimal processing of under-utilized commodities viz. jak & bread fruit commenced in the Post Harvest Group under a CARP funded project in September 2001. The areas investigated in the minimally processed products of these two commodities were to find suitable pre-treatment techniques to control enzymatic browning in breadfruit and ripening in jak fruits, selection of packaging materials, and temperature of storage for the processed product and the microbiological analysis of the stored product to test for its suitability for consumption.

The technology for successful storage, of minimally processed Jak fruit and breadfruit are now complete and could be obtained from the Post Harvest Technology Group of the ITI.

- Asian Tribune -

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