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Aloe vera coating may prolong freshness, safety of fruits and vegetables

Aloe vera gel is best known for its therapeutic effect on burned or irritated skin, but in the future you could be eating the gel as a healthful additive to your fruits and veggies. Researchers in Spain say they have developed a gel from the tropical plant that can be used as an edible coating to prolong the quality and safety of fresh produce. The gel, which does not appear to affect food taste or appearance, shows promise as a safe, natural and environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional synthetic preservatives that are currently applied to produce after harvesting, the researchers say.

Although a number of edible coatings have been developed to preserve food freshness, the new coating is believed to be the first to use Aloe vera, according to study leader Daniel Valero, Ph.D., of the University of Miguel Hernndez in Alicante, Spain. His study will appear in the Oct. 5 print issue of the American Chemical Societys Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the Societys peer-reviewed publication.

Valero and his associates dipped a group of common table grapes (Crimson Seedless) into Aloe vera gel and stored them for five weeks under low temperature while exposing a group of untreated table grapes to the same conditions. The colorless Aloe gel used in this study was developed through a special processing technique that maximized the amount of active compounds in the gel, Valero and associates say. The gel can also be applied as a spray, they add.

The untreated grapes appeared to deteriorate rapidly within about 7 days, whereas the gel-coated grapes were well-preserved for up to 35 days under the same experimental conditions, the researchers say. The gel-treated grapes were firmer, had less weight loss and less color change than the untreated grapes, measures which correspond to higher freshness, they say.

A sensory panel (10 people) evaluated the quality of both the untreated and the gel-t
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Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-4400
American Chemical Society
21-Sep-2005


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