Innovations in the Development and Application of Edible Coatings for Fresh and Minimally Processed Fruits and Vegetables
One of the major growth segments in the food retail industry is fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables. This new market trend has thus increased the demands to the food industry for seeking new strategies to increase storability and shelf life and to enhance microbial safety of fresh produce. The technology of edible coatings has been considered as one of the potential approaches for meeting this demand. Edible coatings from renewable sources, including lipids, polysaccharides, and proteins, can function as barriers to water vapor, gases, and other solutes and also as carriers of many functional ingredients, such as antimicrobial and antioxidant agents, thus enhancing quality and extending shelf life of fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables. This review discusses the rationale of using edible coatings on fresh and minimally processed produce, the challenges in developing effective coatings that meet the specific criteria of fruits and vegetables, the recent advances in the development of coating technology, the analytical techniques for measuring some important coating functionalities, and future research needs for supporting a broad range of commercial applications.