Abstract: High hydrostatic pressure (HHP) processing pasteurizes avocado paste without a significant impact on flavor. Although HHP-treated avocado paste stored under refrigeration is safe for human consumption for months, sensory changes taking place during storage cause the rejection of the product by consumers within days. Although it is known that the shelf life of the product ends before its microbial counts are high, its sensory shelf life limiting factor remains unknown. The present study focused on the use of a trained panel and a consumer panel to determine the sensory shelf life limiting factor of HHP-treated avocado paste. The trained panel identified sour and rancid flavors as the main sensory descriptors (critical descriptors) that differentiated stored from freshly processed samples. Further data obtained from consumers identified sour flavor as the main cause for a significant decrease in the acceptability (shelf life limiting factor) of refrigerated HHP-treated avocado paste. The study allowed the elucidation of a proposed deterioration mechanism for HHP-treated avocado paste during its refrigerated shelf life. The information through this work enhances scientific knowledge of the product and proposes the sour flavor development during storage as a relevant sensory attribute that needs to be improved in order to enhance the product shelf life.
Practical Application: At present, HHP is the most effective commercial nonthermal technology to process avocado paste when compared to thermal and chemical alternatives. HHP-treated avocado paste is a microbiologically stable food for a period of at least 45 d stored under refrigeration. However, previous published work indicated that consumers rejected the product after approximately 19 d of storage due to sensory changes. This manuscript presents a sensory study that permitted the identification of the critical sensory descriptor that is acting as the sensory shelf life limiting factor of the product. The data presented herein along with previous reported data allows a better understanding of the deterioration mechanism that occurs during the storage of HHP-treated avocado paste. This information is relevant and useful for the elucidation of possible alternatives to enhance the shelf life of HHP-treated avocado paste.