Fruits and Vegetables are known to be the best reservoir of vitamins and minerals. These are the nature’s gift which completes our diet. We all are familiar with the saying ” An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. In our childhood days we keep on wondering how it is possible but as we grow we realize it’s worth. Yes, that was correctly said. These act as a safeguard for our body and protect us from various ailments. In addition to it, they delay aging by the action of the antioxidants present in it.
But the main drawback with this agri-based produce is, it comes in the perishable food category. It means these have short shelf life and susceptible to decay. Food technologists try to preserve its preharvest freshness and its quality and it has been a major concern since decades. In order to make it stable, we keep it in the refrigerator or in cold storage. These are the simplest form of low-temperature treatment. But there is high power requirement. Fruits and vegetables have very high water activity and rich in nutrients. These all make them more prone to spoilage by biological or chemical or physical factors. Nature finds its way to protect the creation from the outer world by providing a wax coating. This wax coating is for immediate protection but here we are concerned with the post-harvest freshness of fruits and vegetables.
As we know in this twenty-first-century science is experiencing new heights. The evolving minds are trying their level best to bring about a revolution in every field. A start-up in Santa Barbara, California has come up with a solution to preserve fruits and vegetables by a simple coating. It is named as Apeel Sciences. James Rogers is the founder and chief executive of Apeel Sciences. He is a doctoral student in materials science at the University of California.
They mainly produce an impermeable edible barrier from various plant wastes. These include stem, leaves, banana peel, fresh waste parts which are left as wastes. This covering can extend the shelf life of the produce by five times as previous. So that fruits and vegetables can reach the customers as if it is freshly harvested.
As per James Rogers,“It takes 30 days to get blueberries grown in Chile to market in the United States, which means they have to be picked before they’re ripe and shipped under heavy refrigeration. We can change that.”. Shipping of this agri produce from one country to another that too with preharvest freshness level is a big deal. We face a huge loss and it affects the economy of a country. A study shows that 45% of world’s fruits and vegetable produce is wasted due to spoilage. In this situation, Edipeel can be an effective solution. It can also aid in conserving energy, water, electricity etc.
THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND
Edipeel is a thin layer on the fruits and vegetables which protect food from external damage. Being a live product they also respire even after harvest. It causes decay of the product. The external environment also causes an oxidative change to the fresh produce. The water loss from the surface due to transpiration is also a reason behind the degradation and loss of freshness.
So in order to avoid the changes, a protection layer should be there. Apeel’s technology primarily relies on the extraction of organic compounds from the plant parts. The compounds are used to form a water-based formulation that acts as a coat on the delicate surface. It acts as a micro thin natural hurdle to the outer environment and masks the product from the attack of microorganisms.
It is available in powder form in packets for the convenience of use. We just need to open the packet and dilute it in liquid form. After that, we can dip the product in the solution or can spray the solution on the produce. When left for some time it leaves a thin coating on the surface.
When treated with avocado it shows a remarkable effect against anthracnose(a disease caused due to fungus in the genus Colletotrichum). Hence it is a perfect solution to fortify the products against plant pathogens.
Other companies are also showing interest in the product. Andreessen Horowitz and DBL Partners recently led a round of $33 million investment in the company and it has raised to $40 million in total. As per Vijay Pandey of Andreessen Horowitz,“There are one or two first markets to go after and demonstrate impact, but where you go from there with this company is extremely broad”.
It has got the approval from FDA( Food and Drugs Association) and is recognized GRAS ( Generally Regarded As Safe) product.
Edipeel is for post harvest management but they are planning for another product Invisipeel for pre-harvest treatment. In this growing demand for food, more and more pesticides are being used to raise the efficiency and production. But it has many negative impacts on the ecosystem due to the chemicals present in it. The pesticides which aim at killing pathogens also exploit the life of beneficial bacterias by interfering with the cellular metabolism. It causes many side effects when we consume the produce. Because of its drawbacks, various regulatory boards ban its use in many countries having no option left.
Apeel Sciences has taken a step forward to solve the issue. The basic idea is to keep away the pests from the plant. And it can be done only by masking the produce with a coating. The coating will make the compounds on the surface unidentifiable to the pests. Simply we can say it as a method to divert the fungi, bacteria by recognizing it as not a food. It will save from the tremendous loss we are suffering due to it and will be profitable for farmers. Invisipeel is under research and development and soon it will come to play.
The best part of Edipeel is, it is a natural edible product. It is free from the perilous consequences of the chemicals. It has no impact on the human body as it is a completely organic product. They don’t have any color or odor. And this is not perceptible with naked eyes. It binds water inside. The air remains outside. Hence there is long shelf life. There is more produce.
This product shows the gateway to save world’s economy by enhancing the productivity. Producing more and more crop is not only the solution. In order to make the world hunger free, we need to preserve the food. We have to maintain the quality and its aesthetic value. So that everyone can have access to it. So to keep pace with the changing scenario we have to customize our practices.
EDIPEEL:MAGIC SPRAY TO INCREASE SHELF LIFE