Effect of Gaseous Citral on Table Grapes Contaminated by Rhizopus oryzae ITEM 18876
Rhizopus oryzae is responsible for rapidly producing a deliquescent appearance in grape berries, generally favoured by cold chain interruptions. To counteract fruit spoilage and to meet consumer acceptance, innovative strategies based on the application of natural compounds are ongoing. Due to their biological activities, including antimicrobial ones, natural flavour compounds extend the shelf life and improve the nutritional value as well as the organoleptic properties of foods. Thus, in this work, the application of the antimicrobial citral, a flavor component of monoterpenes identified in plant and fruit essential oils, was developed and validated against one spoiler of R. oryzae. Citral, as pure compound, was first investigated in vitro against R. oryzae ITEM 18876; then, concentrations equal to the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) and 4-fold MIC (4MIC) value were applied on the table grape cv Italia infected with this strain and stored. The MIC value was equal to 0.0125 &mu;L/cm3; both citral concentrations (0.0125 and 0.05 &micro;L/cm3) were effective in counteracting the microbial decay of infected table grapes over the storage period. The HS-SPME/GC-MS method showed citral persistence in the head space of plastic trays with the infected samples; as expected, a higher content of citral isomers was found in the sample treated with 4MIC value. In conclusion, citral revealed its efficacy to counteract the onset of soft rot by R. oryzae ITEM 18876 under storage conditions. Thus, it could be successfully exploited to develop an active packaging or natural preservatives to extend table grape shelf life without affecting its quality and sensory characteristics, whilst also satisfying the consumer demand for natural preservative agents.