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USDA Science Creates More Fresh Food Choices

Fresh-cut apple slices like this one quickly turn brown and mushy when exposed to air.  USDA-ARS chemist Dominic Wong and his collaborators discovered a method to protect apple slices from browning.

Fresh-cut apple slices like this one quickly turn brown and mushy when exposed to air. USDA-ARS chemist Dominic Wong and his collaborators discovered a method to protect apple slices from browning.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

It’s hard to imagine average Americans of the 1950s and ‘60s walking around carrying bottles of water or worrying about getting to the gym three times a week.  But just as lifestyles have changed over the decades, so have eating styles.  Today’s Americans demand a variety of fresh, convenient, healthy, quick snacks and meals—and USDA scientists made a major contribution to meeting that demand.

Scientists with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service teamed with Mantrose-Haeuser, Co., Inc., of Westport, Conn., to develop a coating that helps prevent browning of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. The blend of vitamin salts and minerals extends the shelf life of sliced fruits up to 28 days under refrigeration without detectable changes in color, flavor or texture.  Thanks to this innovation, the nation’s largest fast-food restaurants now offer sliced apples or products containing sliced apples as a healthy choice on their menus.

USDA-ARS exclusively licensed the patented technology to Mantrose-Haeuser, which manufactures the coating under the trade name NatureSeal®.  NatureSeal® is sold commercially to apple processors and food retailers who use the coating to treat fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.   This is the first-available commercial product of its kind that doesn’t have a bad aftertaste or residue.

Sliced apples can now be found in 84 percent of supermarkets, and organic growers use the coating to treat sliced apples.

This technology provides more than tasty treats; it’s also created jobs. Processors, equipment manufacturers, sanitizer suppliers and packaging manufacturers are just a few of the businesses that have been created or expanded to meet demand for this product.

Sliced apples treated with NatureSeal® are now served in the National School Lunch Program, and  more than 1,000 schools nationwide buy NatureSeal®  directly to treat sliced apples on-site for use in school lunches.

3 Responses to “USDA Science Creates More Fresh Food Choices”

  1. Arthur Tesla says:

    NO! NO! NO! Are you guys NUTS!!… develop a coating that helps prevent browning of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. The blend of vitamin salts and minerals extends the shelf life of sliced fruits up to 28 days. The WHOLE IDEA is fresh fruits and vegetables, not three or four week old vegetables. You people at the USDA don’t have a clue what you are doing. And no to genetically engineered foods and food irradiation.
    School Lunch programs should buy local to get fresh fruits and vegetables. I am completely discusted by the USDA, FDA and EPA. Barbarians, all of you!!!

  2. Fadi says:

    Let us see if the new way can keep us healthy. Let us try to weight its adverse effects on our health.

  3. candez says:

    School lunch programs should buy local to get fresh fruits and vegetables?

    Where will a school in Upstate New York go to get local tomatoes, apples and lettuce in January? How about the schools in Arizona? Where will they get peaches or almonds in April, or lettuce in September?

    What programs should schools cut to be able to afford these locally grown fruits and vegetables (especially considering spoilage)?

    The beauty of advances like the one listed in the article is that schools now can afford to source fresh apples for students instead of industrial canned applesauce. Kids are eating healthier and learning healthier eating habits (eating fresh fruit) as a result of this development.

    Oh, and I’m sure the people at the USDA with their doctoral degrees and experience have no clue what they’re doing.

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