The constant improvement in our lifestyle is pushing the demand for various off-season fruits and fresh vegetables. But processing these products is adversely affecting the yield and quality.
Insecticides and pesticides are generally used in the agricultural production process. When consumed, such foods are difficult to decompose and digest by the body.
It has compelled the regulatory bodies to introduce various quality standards with the help of analysis and testing of fruits and vegetables.
Cultivator Phyto Lab offers an extensive array of capabilities and testing services to both the manufacturers and the consumers of fruits and vegetables. We are your one-stop laboratory for all vegetable and fruit analysis.
Importance of Laboratory Testing of Fruits & Vegetables
Laboratory testing & analysis identify quality issues with food products. It offers analytical data on the key ingredients, production processes and overall food quality.
The main aim is to prove two things. Firstly, food is manufactured for maintaining optimal standards of consumers’ health and safety. Secondly, to prevent potential food hazards, such as
- Biological hazards: Resulting from pathogenic microbial hazards like salmonella and E. coli bacteria.
- Chemical hazards: Chemical hazards include contamination with chemicals used in agriculture and the production processes of raw materials. It includes antibiotics, plant growth agents, and pesticides, as well as food additives — preservatives, and chemicals used in the production/processing plant like oil, grease, and cleaning agents for equipment and machinery.
- Physical hazards: Food that contains foreign substances like glass, metal, plastic, or wood that could make a person unwell or hurt them in any way.
What are the Typical Food Quality Testing Parameters?
The food quality testing parameters refer to any food attributes that can be used to evaluate the quality. These include:
- Color and hue of the skin and the inner flesh
- Texture which is measured as firmness
- Sweetness is typically measured as soluble sugars in BRI
- Dry matter content which refers to the total of all solids in fruits minus water
- Sourness is measured as titratable acidity. The acids evaluated generally depend on the type of food.
- Toxins including aflatoxins indicate the safety and hygiene of fresh produce.
- Phytochemicals for establishing nutritional and health benefits.
Factors Affecting Fresh Produce Quality Parameters
It is depending on the given stage of the supply chain, there are several factors that influence the food quality parameters.
The conditions in which the crops are grown affect the productivity and the quality of the produce. Therefore, the product quality parameters will significantly depend on crop health affected by fertilizers, irrigation, pruning, maturity at harvest, and harvest method and handling.
The type of soil, its biodiversity, and its fertility are some of the factors essential for organic cultivation.
Pests & Diseases
Microbial and pest infestations will lead to spoilage of quality and yield loss. Pests and diseases can spread during harvest and spoil batches of harvest. And, when it comes to storage, rodents can cause huge havoc too. Fruits once damaged by pests can decay fast and pose health problems to consumers.
Ripeness & Maturity
The maturity or ripeness of the fruit influences its quality. If you harvest the fruits too early, they will not ripen properly and will be of inferior quality when they reach the retailers. And, when you leave the fruits too long to mature, the transport time is shortened.
Environmental conditions play the most crucial role in affecting the quality of fresh produce. Temperature, rainfall, heat, drought, and frost can cause stress that is most likely to impact crop physiology, and consequently, productivity and food quality.
When it comes to non-climacteric fruits, they are typically harvested when they are nearly ripe and soft. And, the climacteric fruits are harvested when fully mature but still unripe and firm. Both the fruit categories need careful handling when plucked. However, it is crucial to be very cautious with ripe fruits because they are soft and can be easily damaged.
Even mature and non-ripe fruits handled roughly tend to bruise later, leading to a staggering decay.
Cultivator Phyto Lab offers you a complete set of analyzes, in accordance with the regulation in force, for fruits or vegetables and products thereof:
Aspects to Analysis of Fruits & Vegetables
- Nutritional information: calcium, soluble, insoluble, total dietary fiber, phosphorus, total carbohydrates / available carbohydrates, lipids, magnesium, potassium, protein, total sugar, sodium, energy value, etc.
- Organoleptic Aspects: appearance, color, consistency, taste and smell, infestation, etc.
- Microbiological Analysis: Bacillus cereus, mesophilic aerobic bacteria, mesophilic anaerobic bacteria, Coliform bacteria, yeasts and molds, Listeria monocytogenes, salmonella spp., the total number of germs, etc.
- Metals and minerals: aluminum, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, manganese, nickel, lead, selenium, tin, and zinc.
- General Physico-Chemical Aspects: pH, sorbic acid, acidity (free, total, volatile), water activity, starch, easily hydrolyzable nitrogen, net mass, ash insoluble in HCl, sodium chloride, alcohol concentration, total vegetable/fruit content relative to net mass, sulfur dioxide, fructose, glucose, mineral impurities, sweeteners, nitrites and nitrates, polyphosphates, sugar, volume in packaging, etc.
- Mycotoxins and Allergens: aflatoxins B1, deoxynivalenol, ochratoxin A, zearalenone, patulin, etc.
- Pesticides: Organochlorine pesticides (aldrin, total DDT, decachlor-biphenyl, endosulfan, endosulfan sulfate, endrin aldehyde and ketone, heptachlor, heptachlor epoxide, methoxychlor, tetrachloro-m-xylene, α-chlordane and HCH, β-chlordane and chlordane
Wrapping it Up
When it comes to fruit & vegetable testing, you can count on Cultivator Phyto Lab to get detailed analysis reports.
If you are a farm produce distributor or food manufacturer that is in search of a third-party independent laboratory, you are in the right place. Get in touch with us and discuss all your requirements with us.x`