Long life for Vietnam’s litchis

14:08 | 20/06/2017 Science - Technology

(VEN) - Vietnam’s litchis just got a new lease on life. An experiment conducted by the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), in coordination with the Bac Giang People’s Committee, succeeded in preserving the fruit for 35 degrees without damaging its commercial value.

The preservation is enabled by a technology known as Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), a technology that prolongs the shelf-life of fresh or minimally processed foods.

Pham Thi Thu Ha from VAST’s Institute of Chemistry said the prolonged preservation has provided opportunities for litchi exports to Malaysia, Singapore and Australia by sea, thereby reducing export costs. It is also easy to use and suitable for irradiation purpose in accordance with some fastidious markets like the US and Australia, he said.

The technique slows the natural deterioration of the product by lowering the amount of oxygen (O2) in the packaging in order to slow down the growth of aerobic organisms and prevent oxidation reactions. The oxygen can be replaced with nitrogen (N2), commonly acknowledged as an inert gas, or carbon dioxide (CO2), which can lower the pH or inhibit the growth of bacteria.
Trinh Duc Cong, a member of the research team, said after many years of research, VAST has completely mastered the MAP technology and the modern equipment line. The packaging membrane is made of thermoplastic in primary form and therefore ensures food hygiene. Moreover, the membrane does not contain any harmful additives and its quality is not inferior to the same products of the Republic of Korea, Thailand and Australia.

Luc Ngan litchi is a fruit of high economic value and great export potential. However, exports are limited due to poor preservation and transportation capacity. In addition, transportation costs by air are often high. After harvesting, litchis quickly turn from reddish-brown to brown, which reduces their commercial appeal and value. To handle this problem, the research team soaks the fruit in oxalic acid solution of pH=3 to stabilize the color.

Ha Quy Quynh, director of VAST’s Department of Application and Development of Technology, said the MAP technology is new in Vietnam; however it is widely used in the world. Some countries, such as the US and Japan, have developed various kinds of smart packaging, which even inform consumers about the condition and quality of the food inside. VAST sees broad potential for Vietnamese goods with this type of packaging, too, and notes that it is cheaper than other similar products from the Republic of Korea and Israel.

MAP can be used for preservation of other fruits and vegetables in order to improve quality of post-harvest agricultural products, so that they can easily enter the international market. VAST submitted registration documents for an exclusive patent on the preservation technology of Luc Ngan litchi by MAP and its application was accepted.

Thu Huong