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Making fresh-cut apples convenient and safe

A new wash treatment developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists provides antibrowning as well as antimicrobial benefits to fresh-cut apples.

Microbiologist Arvind Bhagwat, leading the project, worked with plant physiologist Robert Saftner and horticulturist Judith Abbott. They are with the ARS Produce Quality and Safety Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. This ARS team now has discovered a dip solution–PQSL 2.0–that keeps sliced apples fresh and controls pathogens.

Volunteer sensory panelists tasted four slices of Fuji and four slices of Granny Smith apples. Each slice had been dipped that day in one of four different commercial or ARS wash treatments including PQSL 2.0. The panelists then reported any differences detected in aroma and flavor. All four treatments were found to maintain the apple slices’ cut-surface color, firmness, aroma and flavor similarly.

Formula PQSL 2.0 reduced levels of five pathogens in the wash solutions by 99.999 percent. PQSL 2.0 also came out ahead in reducing microflora on sanitized apples after slicing. Such native bacterial and fungal populations can accelerate spoilage over time.