Active packaging for fruit and vegetables

Active packaging for the transport of fruit and vegetables capable of delaying senescence and alteration and capable of increasing microbiological quality of fruit and vegetables contained in the packaging itself.

Title of the patent Imballaggio per ortofrutta trattato con una soluzione antimicrobica
Thematic area Agro-food
Ownership Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, Consorzio Bestack
Inventors Gardini Fausto, Lanciotti Rosalba, Patrignani Francesca, Siroli Lorenzo
Protection United States, Europe, Egypt, Lybia, Israel, Algeria, Tunisia
Licensing status Available for license in the United States and licensed to Consorzio Bestack for other areas
Keywords Natural antimicrobials, active packaging, active corrugated cardboard
Filed on Nov 25, 2015

In the fruit and vegetable sector it is considered more and more strategic to provide customers with fruit and vegetables in optimal organoleptic conditions.

This condition is particularly important when considering perishable products, if they have to travel long distances, for example to be exported.

Therefore, it is strategic, to further increase the competitiveness of the sector, to offer quality products able to reach the consumer's table at the best level of ripeness. It is therefore a priority trying to slow down the degradation effects of perishable products such as fruit and vegetables, reduce their distribution time and increase their shelf life.

Currently, some solutions for extending shelf-life have been made available on the market, but only for some products. In addition, there is often the risk of completely stopping the maturation process of these products, thus reducing the quality level of the product being sold.

Therefore, there is a strong need for a packaging which slows down, without stopping, the ripening process of the contained fruit and vegetables, so as to guarantee a sufficient time between the harvest and the final sale of the product.

The invention developed by the University of Bologna is a new packaging solution for extending shelf-life of perishable fruits and vegetables. It allows for the harvesting of the fruit and vegetable products at a more advanced ripening degree than usual, with consequent higher sugar degrees, lower acidity and best profiles in molecules. These features have a strong impact on the sensory profile of the transprted product, allowing to obtain a product with high organoleptic quality.

In detail, the transport packaging is supplemented with an antimicrobial solution, spread on its surface, which lasts on the packaging itself as long as packing, so to reduce alteration phenomena linked to the development of spoilage microorganisms of the fruit and vegetable products contained in the packaging.

The antimicrobial solution (a mixture) is in liquid form and it is composed of water with specific active substances, in particular, some aldehydes. These have been chosen because notoriously have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial action (they are active against many spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms) and because organoleptically compatible with the packaged fruit and vegetable products. In fact, those substances are part of the essential oils, or of the aroma constituents, of many plant products.

The natural substances composing the packaging increase the safety of the packaged products, delaying the development of possible pathogenic microorganisms present on packaged fruit.

Moreover, due to their gradual release over time, those substances have also the function of reducing surface contamination of packaging themselves by wide-spread environmental microorganisms, both pathogens and spoilage agents, with consequent reduction of cross-contamination of the packaged product.

The active substances slowly release in the packaging natural molecules that slow down the alteration process of the product contained therein, by inhibiting the decay processes, the color degradation and the microbial proliferation.