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ACP: Technology improves quality parameters of tomato-based beverage

24/06/2020 - François-Xavier Branthôme
The advantage of non-thermal processing methods

Over the past decade, cold plasma technology (CP) has gained significant interest for use as a non-thermal technology for food processing. The novelty of this technology lies with its non-thermal, economical, versatile and environmentally friendly nature. The applications of CP for food industries have been demonstrated for food decontamination, enzyme inactivation, toxin removal, food packaging modifications and waste water treatment. Particularly for food processing, cold plasma technology has been shown to be effective against major food-borne pathogenic microorganisms such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Staphylococcus aureus, and Listeria monocytogenes. The primary modes of action are due to UV light and reactive chemical products of the cold plasma ionization process. A wide array of cold plasma systems that operate at atmospheric pressures or in low pressure treatment chambers has been developed in recent years.

Quality, both in terms of objective product characteristics and subjective consumer perception, is an essential factor for the success of any food product. Thermal processing of food has been in use for more than two centuries and is still the major food processing technique used in the food industries. The use of severe heat leads to undesirable effects such as change in colour, texture, loss of nutrients etc., motivating researchers to explore non-thermal alternatives for food processing. Cold plasma is one of the non-thermal technologies which has shown significant potential in this regard. CP’s inactivation of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms could result in minimally processed, safe food products with extended shelf-life. However, most of the published research has been focused on microbial decontamination, with limited studies on the impact of CP processing on quality attributes.

Late March, Indian researchers reported that Atmospheric Cold Plasma (ACP) processing technology helped to improve the quality parameters of tomato-based beverages during storage. The research is conducted by Dr. Sudesh Kumar Yadav’s team at Mohali (India) based research institute, the Center of Innovative and Applied Bioprocessing (CIAB).
The team found that ACP helps to retain maximum ascorbic acid content and improves the quality of the tomato-based beverage. It was found to be an efficient processing method that reduced maximum microbial- and mould count in the beverage. 
Besides, accessing the impact of Atmospheric Cold Plasma (ACP) processing, the team also studied the effect of thermal (pasteurization) and non-thermal (ultra-sonication, ultra-violet) on the quality of the tomato-based beverage. It was reported that all the processing techniques except the ACP processing technique degraded the ascorbic acid content in it.
ACP processing has emerged as one of the best processing methods for retaining as well as improving the quality of the beverage. Atmospheric Cold Plasma method may be advantageous processing for developing fruit-based beverages in terms of maintaining its nutritional quality and other acceptable parameters. Therefore, from an industrial point of view, non-thermal processing methods can be advantageous treatments over pasteurization for the processing of beverages.

Fruit and vegetable-based beverages are considered as an instant source of natural bioactive compounds. Such beverages confer various health benefits to human beings upon their consumption. Among them, tomato is the most consumed vegetable worldwide, and it is considered as a popular functional food owing to its carotenoid- and phenolic content.
Food processing is a crucial way to increase shelf life and nutritional quality of food production and to decrease post-harvest losses. The type of processing has a significant influence on the quality of functional food products. Thermal processing, such as pasteurization, of beverages is a commonly used processing method that confers extended shelf-life and provides stability to beverages. However, heating may deteriorate the quality of beverages by affecting the nutritional component.

Dr. Yadav’s team members include Mr. Deepak Mehta, Dr. Nitya Sharma, Dr. Vasudha Bansal, and Rajender S. Sangwan. Their research work is published in the Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, and an Indian patent has also been filed for the technology.

Journal Reference:
Deepak Mehta. Impact of ultrasonication, ultraviolet and atmospheric cold plasma processing on quality parameters of tomato-based beverage in comparison with thermal processing.
DOI: 10.1016/j.ifset.2019.01.015







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