Enzymatic browning remains a problem for the fruit and vegetable industry, especially new emerging markets like pre-cuts. A crude inhibitor from blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) showed broad inhibition for apple (58%), mushroom (32%), and potato (44%) polyphenol oxidase (PPO) and was further characterized. Inhibition increased as the concentration of inhibitor increased in the reaction mixture eventually leveling off at a maximum inhibition of 92% for apple PPO. The inhibitor was capable of bleaching the brown color formed in the reaction mixture with apple PPO. Identification of the inhibitor by mass spectrometry and high-performance liquid chromatography revealed it to be hypotaurine (C2H7NO2S). Hypotaurine and other sulfinic acid analogs (methane and benzene sulfinic acids) showed very good inhibition for apple PPO at various concentrations with the highest inhibition occurring at 500 μM for hypotaurine (89%), methane sulfinic acid (100%), and benzene sulfinic acid (100%).
Practical Application: An inhibitor found in the expressed liquid from blue mussel shows very good inhibition on enzymatic browning. Since this enzyme is responsible for losses to the fruit and vegetable industry, natural inhibitors that prevent browning would be valuable. Finding alternative chemistries that inhibit browning and understanding their mode of action would be beneficial to the fruit and vegetable industries and their segments such as pre-cuts, juices, and so on. Inhibitors from products ingested by consumers are more acceptable as natural ingredients.