Microperforated Compostable Packaging Extends Shelf Life of Ethylene-Treated Banana Fruit
Plastic packaging preserves the quality of ethylene-treated bananas by generating a beneficial modified atmosphere (MA). However, petroleum-based plastics cause environmental pollution, due to their slow decomposition. Biodegradable packaging may help resolve this controversy, provided it shows adequate preservation efficacy. In this study, we tested the compostable biodegradable polyester packaging of ethylene-treated bananas in comparison with commercially available petroleum-based plastic alternatives. When compostable packaging was used in a non-perforated form, it caused hypoxic fermentation, manifested as impaired ripening, off-flavor, and excessive softening. Micro-perforation prevented fermentation and allowed MA buildup. Furthermore, no water condensation was observed in the biodegradable packages, due to their somewhat higher water vapor permeability compared to conventional plastics. The fruit weight loss in biodegradable packaging was higher than in polypropylene, but 3&ndash;4-fold lower than in open containers. The control of senescence spotting was the major advantage of microperforated biodegradable packaging, combined with the preservation of acceptable fruit firmness and flavor, and low crown rot incidence. Optimal biodegradable packages extended the shelf life of bananas by four days compared with open containers, and by two days compared with the best commercial plastic package tested. Microperforated biodegradable packages combined the advantage of improved sustainability with superior fruit preservation.