Active Cardboard Box with Smart Internal Lining Based on Encapsulated Essential Oils for Enhancing the Shelf Life of Fresh Mandarins

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Postharvest treatments conventionally used to maintain the quality of citrus and extend their shelf life are waxes and/or chemical fungicides. Nevertheless, such conventional postharvest treatments have raised important health and environmental issues, as the residue levels of such agrochemicals that are progressively more restricted by official regulations. In that sense, alternative and eco-sustainable postharvest treatments are needed, presenting essential oils (EOs) an interesting opportunity due to their high antimicrobial properties.

The essential oil complex was prepared by kneading 0.15 g of EOs containing carvacrol:oregano EO:cinnamon EO 70:10:20 (weight (w):w:w) mixed with 1.14 g of βCD (1:1 molar ratio). Its suspension was sprayed homogeneously on the paperboard surface.

The use of active packaging including βCD-EOs inclusion complex extended the shelf life of mandarins during a commercialization simulation (room temperature; conducted after a short storage period simulating a short transport/storage) from two weeks (non-active packages) to three weeks. The active large box better controlled the microbial growth of mandarins (with loads up to two log units lower after three weeks) and color changes, while it induced the highest reductions of weight losses and the greatest acidity decrease of mandarins after three weeks (correspondent to the lowest maturity index changes among active samples), which was highly appreciated in the sensory analyses.  As observed, the controlled release of EOs from the active large box extended the shelf life of mandarins either during a long cold transportation simulation or a commercialization period at non-recommended room temperature.

López-Gómez, A., Ros-Chumillas, M., Buendía-Moreno, L., Navarro-Segura, L., Martínez-Hernández, G.B. (2020) Active cardboard box with smart internal lining based on encapsulated essential oils for enhancing the shelf life of fresh mandarins.  Foods
9(5), 590

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