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Ionizing radiation as an alternative treatment for preservation of chestnut fruits

Ionizing radiation as an alternative treatment for preservation of chestnut fruits: optimisation of the process and evaluation of physico-chemical and microbiological characteristics.

Chestnuts is a fruit with relevant national economic importance, since Portugal is an important exporter of this product, contributing for Portuguese trade balance equilibrium. It is in the north region of Portugal (Trás-os-Montes and Beiras) that chestnuts production reaches the highest production volume, representing 87% of the national production. In 2007, were exported 7 774 ton, resulting in 14 844 000 Euros of income (INE, 2007). Being a seasonal product, chestnut fruit has to be preserved, either to be sold as a fresh produce, or to be further processed. However, during its traditional preservation, several problems sometimes arise which may harm its quality and, under given some circumstances, its safety, due to micotoxin formation. Chemical fumigation with methyl bromide is the most common practice to preserve those fruits. Nevertheless, it is a toxic product and according to the Montreal Protocol it will be soon banned from use, due to its adverse effect in the environment. As such, it becomes urgent to find alternative preservation methodologies, which allow fruit quality preservation and its availability during a longer period of time. Following the recommendations of a scientific committee of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), Bromide Technical Options Committee (MBTOC), food irradiation is one of the options. This technique has recently been considered as an alternative to fumigation to reduce the considerably amount of product lost during post-harvest period due to rotting, resulting from the development of fungi and moulds. This treatment also fulfills the European Directive 1999/2/EC about food irradiation. There's already some countries that has the permission to use irradiation as an alternative to treat dried fruits, named in the List of Approved Facilities for the Treatment of Foods and Food Ingredients with Ionizing Radiation in the Member States (SANCO/1332/2000 - rev 14). It should also must be noticed that this technology is environmentally friendly, in contrast to the traditional use of fumigants (e.g. methyl bromide), without leaving any type of chemical residues on fruits or environment. What will be considered in our project is the viability to use ionizing radiations for food treatment, as an alternative to fumigation in chestnuts treatment. For that, the optimization of the adequate doses will be studied, in agreement with the evaluation of physicochemical and microbiological characteristics along storage.
Acronym: 
CHESTNUTSRAD
Project ID: 
7 596
Start date: 
01-01-2012
Project Duration: 
24months
Project costs: 
550 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Agricultural technology
Market Area: 
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHING

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