Victor Rodov (ARO, The Volcani Center, Israel)Ranjeet Shinde (ARO, The Volcani Center, Israel) Yakov Vinokur (ARO, The Volcani Center, Israel) Batia Horev (ARO, The Volcani Center, Israel) Elazar Fallik (ARO, The Volcani Center, Israel)
Marketing melons as ready-to-eat fresh-cut products is a growing trend in many countries. However, mechanical damage promotes physiological deterioration, biochemical changes and microbial colonization resulting in quality degradation and food safety hazards. Packaging under modified atmosphere (MA) is one of the major approaches to ensure a reasonable shelf-life of fresh-cut produce. The profile of volatile compounds (VOC) is an important quality attribute of climacteric melons of cantalupensis group. The objectives of the study were to investigate the efficacy of different MA packaging types to preserve the quality of fresh-cut melons, and to check the possibility of using VOC profile as a quality marker of fresh-cut melons. The results of the work confirmed the efficacy of MA packaging for preservation of fresh-cut melons. The solution selected for cantalupensis Galia-type melons was based on microperforated passive MA allowing quality preservation for 14 days at 7 degrees C. Microbial spoilage and anaerobic fermentation were the major factors limiting the shelf life of fresh-cut melons. Keeping the products in non-perforated packages resulted in generation of fermented off-flavor indicated by accumulation of ethyl acetate. Statistical hierarchical cluster analysis confirmed that maintaining a genotype-specific VOC profile is a marker of acceptable quality of fresh-cut melons while deviation from this profile indicates product deterioration. The microbial spoilage was associated with degradation of typical melon aroma compounds and/or accumulation of abnormal VOCs. Various types of spoilage microorganisms (lactic acid bacteria, yeast, mold) had their characteristic patterns of VOC change opening a potential for diagnostics of spoilage causes by VOC analysis.