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Keywords:

  • strawberries;
  • edible coating;
  • chitosan;
  • potassium sorbate;
  • antifungal activity;
  • water vapor permeability

ABSTRACT: Chitosan (2%) -based or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) (1%) -based coatings were applied on fresh strawberries to evaluate their antifungal efficacies against Cladosporium sp. and Rhizopus sp. Potassium sorbate (PS) was also incorporated into coating formulas to evaluate any additional inhibitory effects on mold inhibition. Strawberries were inoculated with Cladosporium sp. or Rhizopus sp. at a level of approximately 103 log colony-forming units (CFU) /g, coated with 2% chitosan, 2% chitosan containing 0.3% PS, or 1% HPMC containing 0.3% PS, and stored at about 5°C and about 50% RH up to 23 d for enumeration of mold, yeast, total aerobes, and coli forms. To assess antifungal activity of the coating materials in vitro, coating solutions were embedded into agar plates and the diameters of radial mold growth were measured after inoculation. In addition, weight loss of coated strawberries and water vapor permeability of the coatings were measured. No significant combined inhibitory effects between chitosan and PS on fungal growth on fresh strawberries were detected. However, significant combined inhibition activity was observed in in vitro testing when PS was formulated into chitosan. Antifungal activity of chitosan against Cladosporium sp. and Rhizopus sp. was not affected by the autoclaving process of coating solutions. Coating treatment also reduced total aerobic count, coliforms, and weight loss of strawberries during storage. Hence, chitosan can be used as a natural antimicrobial coating on fresh strawberries to control the growth of fungi, thus extending shelf-life of the fruits.