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2 Post-Production Operations

Many post-production operations for organic produce are identical to non-organic production and will not be described in detail in this report. Where there are particular restrictions or considerations they are identified. The draft IFOAM Basic Standards 2002 state: ‘Handlers and processors should handle and process organic products separately in both time and place from non-organic products. Handlers and processors should identify and avoid pollution and potential contamination sources’ (2). Likewise the Codex Alimentarius (Annex 1B) required the maintenance of organic product integrity and protection against contamination (1).

2.1 Harvesting

There are few specific considerations for harvesting organic produce. Normal attention must be paid to harvesting each crop at its optimum maturity, bearing in mind its intended market; harvesting early in the day and keeping harvested produce in the shade, wherever possible; and removing field heat quickly.top

2.2 Curing
Some root, tuber and bulb crops require a ‘curing’ period at ambient or elevated temperature to promote wound healing and ensure optimum storage life. There are no specific requirements for curing organic produce.

click on thumbnail to enlarge picture
Melon washing
Selecting oca for seed
Packing carrots for export
Potato grading and packing

2.3 Packing house operations

Most markets require strict attention to be paid to the size, grade, quality and maturity of produce, whether or not it is organic. Fruit and vegetables must be cleaned and graded to comply with these regulations. Special consideration needs to be paid to the cleaning or sterilisation of grading and processing equipment in an organic operation:organic produce must be ‘free of substances used to clean, disinfect, and sanitize food processing facilities’ (2), which can be achieved by re-washing equipment with hot water after the use of cleaning agents, or passing non-organic produce through the system before the organic produce. Ethylene is permitted for post-harvest ripening (2).

 

Packing carrots for export 2.4 Packing and packaging materials
The IFOAM Draft Basic Standards 2002 state that ‘Organic product packaging should have minimal adverse environmental impacts’; and recommend that ‘Processors of organic food should avoid unnecessary packaging materials; and organic food should be packaged in reusable, recycled, recyclable and biodegradable packaging whenever possible’ (2).

Thus, although all types of packaging are authorized, there is an expectation that careful thought will have gone into the choice of the packaging with regard to its environmental impact. In the future, restrictions may be put in place concerning the use of packaging materials that are harmful to the environment, especially for those packaging materials that are not recyclable or biodegradable.top

 

2.4.1 Cardboard and paper
Whilst these traditional materials are generally readily available and inexpensive, they have several drawbacks: porous to gas, permeable to water, easily torn or crushed.They protect products only from light impacts. In organic farming, these materials are principally used for fresh fruits and vegetables. In order to limit impacts between products and to limit movement within the packaging, the use of liners between layers of fruits and vegetables, or of individual paper wrapping, can be efficient. Waxing of packaging restricts water permeability but can make the package unsuitable for recycling. Particular consideration needs to be paid to the use for which the packaging is intended. A lightweight cardboard box may be adequate for use in the local market, but a telescopic box with reinforced corners may be necessary for seafreight. It will need to retain its strength during extended periods at low temperatures and high humidities to enable stacking over 2 m high on a pallet.top

2.4.2 Plastic
Plastic packaging is likely to deliver the best quality produce, minimising wastage. It can be pre-printed for marketing purposes and it is ideally suited to forming flexible, unbreakable packaging matched to the product’s needs. It is light in weight, leading to cheaper transport costs and less fuel consumption in transport. Although plastic packaging is often frowned upon because it is commonly derived from fossil fuels and is not always able to be recycled, the alternatives need to be considered carefully. There are many recyclable or bio-degradable plastics and some plastics are now produced from starch.

Plastic is selectively permeable to gas and water, depending on the type of polymer. Some polymers are therefore ideally suited to creating a modified atmosphere around fresh fruits and vegetables. During storage, the respiration of the produce emits carbon dioxide and consumes oxygen. The selective permeability of the polymer results in an increase of carbon dioxide inside the packaging. The respiration rate of the vegetable decreases proportionally to this enrichment, and the composition of the atmosphere stabilizes progressively. The resultant atmosphere, if maintained, can lead to significant improvements in storage quality.

This type of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is being developed for highly perishable, high-value produce. The problem is that temperature fluctuations dramatically affect the rates of tissue metabolism and the permeability of the plastics; stable gas compositions can be obtained only in a precisely controlled environment. The risk of anaerobism in MAP is severe; anaerobism leads to the production of off-flavours and, in extreme cases, favours the growth of toxic organisms and toxin production. MAP is thus too risky to recommend for routine use in the export of fresh fruit and vegetables from developing countries.top

2.4.3 Glass
Glass receptacles are principally used for liquid products or solids in liquid. Glass receptacles are well adapted to organic products as they are impermeable to gas, air moisture, micro-organisms and resistant to thermal treatments. Against these positive attributes are the bulk and transparency of glass, which can cause problems for products that are sensitive to light. Also, the energy costs of recycling glass are very high (possibly making it less ecologically-friendly than plastic). In addition, glass breakage is extremely serious on packing lines; a single breakage can lead to expensive downtime as equipment is turned off and cleaned to prevent glass shards entering packages.top

2.4.4 Metal
Metal offers the same sealing advantages and resistance to thermal treatments as glass. However, the consumer image of this type of packaging is unfavourable; and metal can be subject to corrosion.

2.4.5 Conclusion
Among the four types of packaging, the most appropriate for organic produce storage is often plastic or glass. In practice, combinations of containers are often used, e.g. glass containers in cardboard cartons. For processing in developing countries, packaging materials often have to be imported from industrialised countries. This implies constraints and supplemental costs (management of stock, financial investments) that can hinder the development and marketing of organic products. top

Hydrocooling carrots 2.5 Cooling system
It is highly advised to place harvested fruits and vegetables as soon as possible in a storage area that is kept at the appropriate temperature and to retain that temperature thereafter. Research has enabled the optimum storage temperatures to be established for many products (see below). These guidelines need to be verified for each product, given the degree of harvest maturity, the variety, and the growing region of the produce. There is a range of cooling techniques available.

2.5.1 Air-cooling
Air-cooling requires the supply of cold fresh air (RH 85-90%) to bulk or packaged products. This system requires a moderate investment. Controlling parameters is easy and the system is modular; however, the cooling process is very slow and not homogenous. For regions without access to electricity, very low-cost cool stores can be built which rely on evaporative cooling; water evaporation from e.g. wet sand between porous brick walls can lower the temperature inside a store to 10-15°C below ambient. Storage in pits or caves is a traditional means of taking advantage of the cool and more constant temperatures below ground. Night air can be used to lower the temperature of a well-insulated cool store, which is then sealed for the daytime.top

Forced-air cooling unit Shower-type hydrocooler Thermfresh cooling unit Vacuum cooling unit
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2.5.2 Forced-air-cooling
The simplest design is achieved by building parallel stacks of palletised cartons in a refrigerated cold room. The gap between the two parallel rows of pallets is closed off with a cover. A small fan is placed at one end. The exhaust fan removes air from the enclosed space, so that the pressure falls. Cold air then flows through the ventilation slots in each carton (4). Advantages of forced-air cooling are its capital cost, its flexibility (cartons, bins, before or after packing) and lack of condensation. Forced-air cooling is more rapid and even than air-cooling but not as rapid as hydro-cooling or vacuum-cooling.top

2.5.3 Hydro-cooling
Hydro-cooling involves immersing the produce in cold water. The advantages of this method are speed, uniform cooling and no weight loss by dehydration. Disadvantages include the necessity of drying the product surface after cooling and avoiding a build-up or transmission of disease in the hydro-cooling water. There are also problems with the requirement for a large quantity of clean water, disposing of waste water, heavy capital cost and it is not applicable to all types of packaging especially cartons. This technique is used for small fruits or vegetables, leafy vegetables and pineapple. Another system which uses less water involves passing the produce through a cold mist at about 5° C.

2.5.4 Vacuum-cooling
Vacuum-cooling is particularly effective for leafy greens The products are placed in a chilled vacuum chamber and air is exhausted by a vacuum pump. When the pressure is low enough the water in the produce starts to evaporate and cools the tissue. Pre-cooled fruits and vegetables are then placed immediately into a cool room. The decrease in temperature is very rapid but this technique is capital-intensive.top

Bulk coolstore 2.6 Storage of fruits and vegetables
Organic product needs to be stored and transported in a way that it is properly identified and physically separated from non-organic products (2). Although individual products have a range of optimal storage temperatures, in practice most produce can be stored at one of three temperatures (Table 2). These recommendations should always be verified under local conditions for each variety and harvest maturity. For certain fruits and vegetables (e.g. mangoes, bananas) cooling in stages plus intermittent warming allows the produce to resist chilling injury and spoilage. More detailed information on ideal storage temperatures is available on: http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/Produce/ProduceFacts/index.html

Table 2: Recommended conditions for storage of fruits using three temperature zones.

Products not or slightly sensitive to cold Store at 0-2 °C
Products somewhat sensitive to cold Store at 5-8°C
Products very sensitive to cold Store at 13°C
Apple
Apricot
Berryfruit
Cherry
Coconut
Date
Fig
Grape
Kiwifruit
Litchi
Nectarine
Orange
Peach
Pear
Persimmon
Plum
Quince
Babaco
Custard apple
Durian
Feijoa
Hass avocado
Kumquat 
Longan
Mandarin
Melon
Olive
Pomegranate
Tamarillo 
Avocado
Banana
Breadfruit
Carambola
Guava
Grapefruit
Lemon
Lime
Mango
Mangosteen
Papaya
Passionfruit
Pineapple Plantain
Rambutan
Sapote
Soursop
Watermelon
Artichoke
Asparagus
Bean sprouts
Beet
Bok choy
Broccoli Cabbage
Carrot
Cassava
Cauliflower
Celery
Garlic
Lettuce
Mushroom
Onion
Pea
Radish
Spinach
Sweet corn
Water chestnut
Green bean
Potato
  Aubergine
Cucumber
Ginger
Kumara
Pumpkin
Squash 
Sweet pepper
Sweet potato
Taro
Tomato
OkraYam

Source: http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/Produce/ProduceFacts/index.html

The refrigeration of fruits and vegetables improves when carried out with the proper relative humidity for each product. The UC Davis website referred to above lists this information as well. Appropriate storage conditions are always a compromise; high humidity levels limit dehydration and loss of weight, but encourage the development of micro-organisms leading to rots.

When different kinds of produce are mixed in storage, consideration must be given to aroma volatiles which may taint other produce (e.g. durian, onion) and ethylene which may ripen or damage other produce. The risk of mutual contamination is most pronounced between fruits which emit large quantities of ethylene (Table 3) and produce which is sensitive to ethylene like avocados, bananas and papayas (Table 4).

Table 3: Ethylene synthesis by fresh produce

0.01-0.1 µl/kg/h at 20°C
0.1-1 µl/kg/h at 20°C
1-10µl/kg/h at 20°C
10-100 µl/kg/h at 20°C
Cherry
Date
Grape
Grapefruit
Kumquat
Mandarin
Most vegetables
Mushroom
Orange
Pomegranate
Strawberry
Watermelon
Aubergine
Berryfruit
Cucumber
Green bean
Guava
Kiwifruit
Okra
Olive
Persimmon
Pineapple
Plantain
Pumpkin
Squash
Sweet pepper
Tamarillo
Apricot
Banana
Feijoa
Fig

Honeydew melon
Litchi
Mango
Mangosteen
Nectarine
Papaya
Peach
Plum
Tomato

Apple
Atemoya
Avocado
Canteloupe
Cherimoya
Custard apple
Nashi
Papaya
Passion fruit
Pear
Rambutan
Sapote

Source: http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/Produce/ProduceFacts/index.html

Table 4: Ethylene sensitivity of fresh produce

Low

Medium

High

Artichoke
Beet
Berryfruit
Cassava
Cherry
Daikon
Date
Feijoa
Fig
Garlic
Ginger
Grape
Onion
Pineapple
Pomegranate
Sweet corn
Sweet pepper
Sweet potato
Yam
Apricot
Asparagus
Aubergine
Canteloupe
Celery
Grapefruit
Guava
Kumquat
Litchi
Mandarin
Mango
Mushroom
Nectarine
Okra
Olive
Papaya
Passionfruit
Peach
Pea
Plum
Potato
Pumpkin
Squash
Tamarillo

Apple
Atemoya
Avocado
Banana
Bok choy
Broccoli
Cabbage
Carrot
Cauliflower
Cherimoya
Cucumber
Custard apple
Honeydew melon
Kiwifruit
Lettuce
Mangosteen
Nashi
Parsnip
Pear
Persimmon
Plantain
Rambutan
Sapote
Spinach
Tomato
Watermelon

Source: http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/Produce/ProduceFacts/index.htmltop

Refrigerated shipping container 2.7 Transportation system
There are no particular legislative requirements for transporting organic fruit and vegetables but as noted above, air travel is extremely wasteful of fossil fuels. This is less of an issue if the produce is travelling with passengers but is a serious argument against the use of cargo-only planes for fresh fruit and vegetables if there are locally-grown equivalents available in the importing country. Sea transport is many times more economical of fossil fuels (per km) than air- or even road-freight. It is worth noting therefore that produce grown under low-input agriculture in a developing country and transported by sea freight can have a lower ‘energy overhead’ than produce grown in Europe under intensive mechanised agriculture with high fertiliser inputs.

It is important to look at the infrastructure for freight before establishing a perishable crop as every delay in transit to urban centres, ports and airports reduces the potential shelf life of the product. Ideally refrigerated trucks should be used for produce stored at low temperatures to maintain the ‘cool chain’ from the grower’s property to the marketplace. Harvesting should be timed to coincide with air- or sea-freight opportunities if refrigerated storage is limited.top

2.8 Processing

2.8.1 Freezing
Freezing is the only processing method that keeps produce in a state similar to the fresh crop. It is quite often applied to vegetables but rarely used for fruits, as they do not handle it well. If properly frozen, stored and defrosted, frozen produce becomes a high quality raw material.Pressing olives

Nutritional quality is generally retained at at-harvest levels when the product is sold frozen. Significant vitamin loss may occur during subsequent thawing and cooking. Colour, odour and taste are retained well by freezing, but superficial dehydration occurs.

Before freezing, the fresh produce is cleaned and graded before being conveyed to the peeler, stoner or slicer. At this stage fruits and some vegetables such as onions and peppers are ready for freezing, but most vegetables need to be blanched with hot water or steam at 80° to 100° C to inactivate enzymes that could otherwise lead to a loss in vitamin C and flavour. Fruit can be coated in sugar or in syrup that contains an antioxidant like ascorbic acid. Coating retards browning, avoids the “cooked” taste after defrosting and increases product quality. The products may be packaged before or after freezing. The procedure requires very rapid freezing. The degree of freezing depends on the duration of storage. Some conditions of freezing are listed in Table 3.

 

Table 3: Practical storage life of frozen products.

Products
Practical storage life (month)
 
-18°C
-25°C
-30°C
Fruits in sugar
12
18
24
Fruits in sugar with ascorbic acid
18
24
>24
Asparagus
15
24
>24
Carrots
18
24
>24
Cauliflower
15
24
>24
Green beans
15
24
>24
Beans (Lima)
18
>24
>24
Peas
18
>24
>24
Potatoes
24
>24
>24
Spinach
18
>24
>24

Source: IIR, 1990 (5) top

2.8.2 Drying
Fruit are the principal imported dried produce and are easy to transport and to store. Dried vegetables are produced in low volumes for the local market but can be useful for e.g. soup mixes. The major risks with dried products are microbiological attack and physiological deterioration. Physiological deterioration is caused by oxidation and enzymatic activity and leads to browning, loss of vitamins and the development of off-flavours. Dried organic products are particularly vulnerable to deterioration since chemical treatment with the normal conservation agent (SO2) is not allowed. In order to minimise these risks a series of ‘hurdles’ are applied, as described in the following subsections. No organic substitutes are available which are as effective as SO2) in conserving the colour of dried fruit. In these circumstances a marketing campaign should be put into place at the point of sale to explain the reason for the brown colour of dried organic fruits, such as dried apricots.Pulping olives for pressingtop

2.8.2.1 Water content
Dry fruit products have a water content of 8 to 12% (in general) and dry vegetables, around 7%. Under these conditions, there are no microbiological problems during storage of the product. Semi-dried or soft products, which may be more highly priced in the market, have a water-content of between 20 and 30%; therefore micro-organisms can develop during storage and refrigeration may be required.top

2.8.2.2. Additives and processing aids
Permitted processing aids which help to retain quality of dried produce include:

2.8.2.3 Blanching
A brief period at high temperatures destroys most micro-organisms present in the product; and inactivates enzymes which promote browning and degradation. Details of time, temperature, and solution vary according to the produce being treated; some examples are listed in Table 4.

Table 4. Recommendations for blanching fruits and vegetables.

Fruit
Process
Apricot Steam for 5 min
Banana Boiling water for 5 min
Date Steam or boiling water
Litchi Steam for 7 seconds, then soak in 5-10 % citric acid and 2 % salt
Mango, papaya Hot water (56 °C) for 1 min
Pineapple Steam for 10 min
Vegetable Process
Cabbage Boiling water for 3 min OR Steam for 5 min
Carrot Boiling water for 4-6 min
French and green beans Boiling water for 4-6 min
Gombo Boiling water for 6 min
Spinach Boiling water and salt (30 g/l), 3 min
Sweet potato Boiling water for 5 min OR Steam for 8 min
Turnip Boiling water for 4-6 min

Source: Desruelles et al. 1997 (6). top

2.8.2.4 Rapid Drying
Sun drying is the processing method most often used for organic fruits such as apricots, figs and bananas. However, the potential risk to quality and the difficulty of maintaining a high degree of sanitation is a problem. A rapid drying process also decreases the contact time between the product and oxygen. The drying conditions and recommended moisture content of the finished product are provided in Table 5.

Table 5. Drying conditions and moisture content of organic products

Fruit or vegetable
Drying temperature
(°C)
Moisture content of the finished product (%)
Expected storage life (month)
Banana
55
12
6
Mango
55
14
6
Papaya
55
7-12
5
Onion
50-55
5
3-12
Tomato
55
6
6
Carrot
50-55
6
6-12
French beans
55
6
6


Source: Bureau International du Travail, 1990 (7, 8) top

2.8.2.5 Water/air tight packaging
The type of packaging to be used for dried organic foods varies with expected storage conditions. The most common types are flexible packages with low permeability to oxygen and water vapour, and vacuum-packaging is common.

2.8.2.6 Pasteurisation after packaging
Certain processors pasteurise their products at 70°C after packaging to destroy micro-organisms that could have contaminated the product after blanching. This treatment applies to soft fruits: apricots, plums.

2.8.2.7 Supplementary techniques for specific fruits
Dried dates are subject to considerable damage by pyralids (Ectomyelois ceratoniae). In order to avoid the use of chemical products (methyl bromide), two methods can be used to destroy this insect. Immediately after the harvest, dates can be placed into a dryer for 2 hours at 60°C (9) in order to destroy larvae and eggs. Alternatively, the dates can be frozen at -40°C. Shock from cold temperatures seems to satisfactorily destroy the pyralid larvae and eggs. This procedure is more widely used.

Biological control has been tested. Among the techniques tried, one of them uses a bio-pesticide (bactospeine) and an insect (Habrobracon hebetor). When Bacillus thuringiensis is ingested, it produces the pesticide bactospeine in the organism. The use of B. thuringiensis is authorised by the EEC organic legislation. H. hebetor is a parasite to pyralids. When these two organisms are introduced into the storage room the rate of mortality of the pyralids reaches 76% after 6 days (10). Although effective, this method is not yet in commercial use.

After storage, dates are placed in a steam bath to stabilize the fruit's moisture level and to pasteurize it. Before packaging, the dates are sometimes coated with hot, pasteurized sugar syrup. This coating, which has a high sugar content of 70 to 80° Brix, acts as a barrier against contamination by micro-organisms (due to the low absorption of water into the coating) and prevents the products from sticking together. In this manner, despite a high water content (24%), the development of micro-organisms in date packaging seems to be rare, even among organic dates. However, to obtain these results, one must ensure that good hygienic conditions are applied during processing.

Dried organic grapes (raisins) are primarily dried in the sun. It is preferable to wash the grapes with water and oil before drying, and to spray them with organic sunflower oil before packaging. This helps stop the raisins from sticking together and acts as a barrier against the proliferation of microbes.

The by-products of dried fruits and vegetables are also used, incorporated into products like muesli. The incorporation of organic fruits and vegetables into other types of products is not as yet widely done, but products such as organic fruit yoghurt are coming on the market. To develop the market for dried fruits as a viable product in industry, the product must be available with consistent quality year-round and in sufficient volume to allow for storage. top

2.8.3 Heat Conservation
These techniques use thermal treatments to conserve processed products by destroying or inactivating enzymes, and killing micro-organisms. The products concerned are juices (principally from fruit), canned products (fruits and vegetables) and jams and purées.

2.8.3.1 Juice or Oil extraction
Juice is a simple and natural way to process fresh produce. It allows the preservation of the majority of nutritional qualities (vitamins, minerals), and it largely resolves the problem of storage. Juice could be considered as the ideal product for the organic market. The juices that are consumed in largest quantity (traditional and organic data, combined) are apple juice, citrus juices, pineapple juice and vegetable juices. Among exotic fruit juices, the most common are from oranges, mangoes and guava. Carrot and tomato juices are important on the European market. There is probably a consumer view that juicing concentrates any residues in the product, which may explain the increasing popularity of pure organic fruit and vegetable juices. The market does not appear to be saturated as yet.

In addition, tropical fruits often offer a much higher source of vitamin C than fruits from temperate zones. This additional nutritional aspect is an advantage for tropical organic juices. It is preferable to opt for transport of juice in suitable bulk packages such as kegs to diminish transportation costs. The juice can be repackaged in the country where it will be consumed. However, to ensure juice stability during handling, it is necessary to use high-temperature pasteurisation. This can alter the organoleptic and nutritional characteristics of the juice. To remedy this problem, it might be preferable to extract the juice at the location where the juice will be consumed. This also allows the sale of ‘fresh squeezed’ or flash-pasteurised juices. This type of product is even more consistent with organic farming because little or no processing takes place and the final product is the closest thing to fresh. Fresh squeezed juice which has not undergone any type of heat treatment can be stored for only about 10 days under refrigeration. Flash-pasteurised juice (heat treatment of a few seconds at 70°C) has to stay in a cold room and can be stored for about 24 days. These products, the focus of ever-increasing consumer demand, correspond to the heightened interest in food products that are natural and healthy. It is therefore desirable to associate these qualities with the organic market.

Three factors are responsible for the successful long-term storage of juices:
The acidity of the juice
The pH must be less than 4.2 in order to stop the development of micro-organisms; ascorbic acid, citric acid or lemon juice can be added;
Thermal treatment
A temperature which destroys micro-organisms has to be used. Conditions depend on the characteristics of the final product: viscosity, packaging, type of juice, etc.;
The packaging
Juice packaging has to be impermeable to gas and sometimes to light, and has to avoid micro-organism contamination.

Certain juices, especially those which are high in pulp content, may need to be clarified. Enzymatic treatments are authorized in Europe (part B of EC legislation), but filtration and decantation methods can be used instead. There is a growing market for organic oils, such as olive oil, which can be produced by simple physical methods from organic produce.top

2.8.3.2 Canning
Canned produce must be prepared in such a way as to retain as closely as possible the characteristics of fresh produce. The market for canned products is restricted since consumer opinion relates canned products to products that are not wholesome, or are of poor quality.

Authorised additives and processing aids include:
- Anti-oxidants such as ascorbic acid, citric acid, and tartaric acid;
- Texture aids (calcium chloride).

Canning organic fruits and vegetables does not require any specific adjustments that are not already found in conventional canning methods. Fruit are usually canned in sugar syrup. This syrup is defined for ‘natural products’ (up to 16% sugar) or ‘products with syrup’ (over 20% sugar). Details of blanching recommendations (Table 7) and syrup compositions (Table 8) are given for canning a variety of common fruit and vegetables.

Table 7. Blanching recommendations for canned fruit and vegetables.

Fruit Processing
Apricot Boiling water for 1 min
Banana Boiling water for a few min
Fig Boiling water for 5 min
Grape No blanching
Grapefruit Steam for a few min
Vegetable Process
Carrot Boiling water for 2-4 min
Gombo Boiling water for 2 min
Green pea Boiling water for 8-10 min
Lima pea Hot water (87-95 °C) for 3 min
Spinach Hot water (71-77 °C) for 6 min
Sweet potato Steam for 9-12 min

Source: Desruelles et al. 1997 (6).

Table 8. Recommendations for syrup composition for canned fruit and vegetables.

Fruit Syrup (g sugar per litre water)
Apricot Natural: 80
Syrup: 450
Banana Syrup: 300 (+ 0.5% citric acid)
Cubic fruits Syrup: 400
Fig Natural: 80
Syrup: 160-480
Grape Syrup: 400
Grapefruit Syrup: 400
Guava Syrup: 650
Litchi Syrup: 400-500 (+ citric acid)
Mango Syrup: 400 (+0.25% citric acid)
Orange Syrup: 500
Papaya Syrup: 300-500 (+0.5% citric acid)
Pineapple Syrup: 200-400
Vegetable Syrup
Green peas 2 % salt, 4 % sugar
Carrot, French beans, Gombo, Lima beans, Spinach 2 % salt
Tomato, sweet pepper 2 % acidified salt
Sweet potato Water

Source: Desruelles et al. 1997 (6).

The time required for sterilisation of the cans depends on the characteristics of the product (viscosity, form, etc.), the size of the can and other factors. Oxygen in the produce can react with metals in the can material, so the cans need to have an internal protective coating to avoid corrosion. It is necessary to remove most of the oxygen from the produce by blanching and pre-heating. top

2.8.3.3 Conservation with sugar, e.g. jams and purées
The goal of this processing technique is to arrive at a sugar content where the product is stable. This method is principally used for fruit. Durability in storage is determined by acidity; sugar content; and the type of packaging. There is a large variety of products: jams, jellies, syrups and fruit pastes. Importing countries may impose standards and definitions for these products, specifying the minimum quantity of fruits or fruit juice that may be used, as well as the optional ingredients.

Conservation with sugar does not require any particular modifications for organic farming; although where possible organic sugar sources will be preferred. The process consists of mixing sugar (or sugar syrup) with pulp of fruits (or fruit juice). The mixture is cooked to remove excess water. Pectin solution is added. When the desired end point is reached (65° Brix for jams and jellies, 68° Brix for preserves), the proper amount of acid is added. Once the pH has been adjusted to 3.1 to 3.4, the mix is ready for packaging.

The low pH and water activity of the product limit bacterial development. However the low solids content (65-70%) is not a guarantee against the growth of certain micro-organisms. To ensure total protection, post-filling sterilization could be carried out.

The ingredients and processing acids required for these products are:
preserving agents such as lactic acid, citric acid, calcium citrate, tartaric acid, sodium and potassium tartrate;
thickening and gelling agents such as pectin, flour from carob beans, guar gum, adragante gum, arabic gum, alginic acid, sodium and potassium alginate, agar-agar, carragheenan;
processing aids such as calcium chloride, coatings (Carnauba and bees wax), and calcium carbonate.

Purées and pulps are used in products for children. Some major manufacturers of juice for babies have oriented their operations towards products without pesticide residues or preservatives. This means that organic materials were used to make the products. For the moment, only banana pulp is well developed. However, as with juice, the nutritional aspect of tropical fruits could stimulate a market for other types of pulps and purées (pineapple, mangoes, etc).

Jams also offer a potential market for pulps and purées. As with juice, these are products that have been only slightly processed, are healthy, and that keep the nutritional properties of the original fruit or vegetable and they correspond to the idea of health that is associated with organic products. Jams are primarily sold in fine markets or specialized shops. Some blanching details for stewed fruit are listed in Table 6.

Table 6. Blanching conditions for stewed fruit.

Fruit
Processing details
Apricot Hot water (80-85°C) for 2 min
Mango Steam for 2 min
Orange Boiling water for 5 min

Source: Desruelles et al. 1997 (6).top

2.8.4 Conservation by fermentation
Fermentation is a chemical change brought about by enzymes, bacteria or micro-organisms. The chemical changes are acidification, oxidation of nitrogenous organic compounds and decomposition of sugars and starches (alcoholic fermentation). These last fermentation options result in wines and other alcoholic beverages. Organic processing methods for alcoholic beverages are not addressed here.

There are many other important fermentation processes and products. They principally concern vegetables: sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, fermented soya (shoyu, tempeh), and fermented roots or tuber (e.g. cassava, yam)

Fermentation is achieved by:
- salt, without water (e.g. sauerkraut);
- brine: salted solution, sometimes with vinegar;
- the inoculation of specific microbes (shoyu, tempeh).
- water (cassava).

Preparations of microorganisms and enzymes commonly used in food processing may be used, with the exception of genetically engineered microorganisms and their products. Microorganisms grown on organic cultures should be used if available (1).top

2.8.4.1 Sauerkraut
Cabbages are cut and put in fermentation tanks with salt. The salt is mixed with the shredded cabbage and lactic fermentation causes the conversion into sauerkraut. When the acidity is sufficient the fermentation is stopped by pasteurization. The process does not require specific additives or processing aids. Canned sauerkraut is easy to use and is not as subject to deterioration and spoilage as bulk sauerkraut. Sauerkraut used for canning is ordinarily not cured as long as that sold in bulk.

2.8.4.2 Pickles
The cucumber is one of the most important vegetables used for pickles. Sometimes vegetables undergo a preliminary fermentation with salt. They are soaked in several changes of cold water until practically free of salt, followed by many hours in hot water (45-65°C) (not used for fragile vegetables like cauliflower). Calcium chloride has a hardening effect and can be added. Afterward, vegetables are placed in vinegar. Pickles are put into heavily lacquered cans with brine or vinegar. The cans undergo thermal treatment and are sealed.

2.8.4.3 Other fermentation
The fermentation of soya involves the use of micro-organisms: Saccharomyces, Torulopsis, Pediococcus or Rhizopus. These elements are authorised by EC Regulation. The fermentation of cassava (or other roots and tubers) is a natural fermentation that needs no additives.

Fermentation is a viable process for enhancing the microbiological safety and storage of foods, especially in areas such as the tropics. It conforms to organic legislation. Many types of new fermented products can be created such as vegetable cheeses and yoghurt.top

2.9 Others

Exported Ecuador bananas 2.9.1 Legislation applying to organic products
The development of organic farming increases the risk of fraud and of unfair competition. In order to protect consumers and producers, many countries have put in place requirements that standardize products at the national and the international level. An increasing number of countries have standards and regulations in place. Details for major importing countries can be found at http://www.organic-research.com/Laws&Regs/legislation.htm. These regulations are in addition to the requirements of any national certifying or registering body in the country of production; and should be read in conjunction with the Codex Alimentarius guidelines (1) and IFOAM draft basic standards (2).

One of the first pieces of organic legislation was the European Union’s "Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91" from June 24, 1991. The full regulation and its amendments are available on http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/lif/dat/1991/en_391R2092.html. It defines the production methods for organic farming: rules for labelling, production, quality control systems, and imports from the developing world .

The requirements for organic farming are applied in an identical fashion in all the EU-countries, although not all products may be authorised for cultivation in every country. In addition, in each country of the EU, organic products can exist with even stricter requirements. These products must therefore undergo a double certification: European certification and certification tied to the particular product.

For countries wishing to export organic products to the EU, there are basically two options. One is to apply for inclusion into the Article 11 list: countries whose approved domestic certification bodies are accepted by the EU. At June 2001, the Article 11 list countries were: Argentina, Australia, Czech republic, Hungary, Israel, Switzerland. Suggestions on how to proceed if a country should wish to attempt inclusion on this list can be found in (11); but the process is long and difficult. The more practical (but still expensive) alternative is to apply for an individual permit to import; certification will be required by both the producer and exporter, which may occur through an official accrediting body of the importing country, or through a local certification body accredited by the importing country. Further details are available in (3), pp. 10-15.

Switzerland has its own law concerning organic farming, ‘L’ordonnance sur l’agriculture biologique’, 22 Sep 1997 (12) (see http://www.blw.admin.ch/). Turkey’s legislation on organic agriculture is described in (13).

In Japan, the Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS) legislation for organic agriculture was implemented in April 2000 (see http://www.maff.go.jp/). This legislation replaces earlier voluntary guidelines which covered a range of ‘green’ agricultural practices; there is now a clear definition of organic produce and labelling rules (3).

As far as the USA is concerned, the US National Organic Standards were completed in December 2000 and will come into full effect by October 2002 (see http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop). Descriptions of entry requirements for organic produce are described in (3).top

2.9.1.1 Storage and processing of organic agricultural products
It is important to note that ingredients of agricultural origin not included in annex VI section C of the EEC Regulation may be used only where it has been shown that such ingredients are not produced in sufficient quantity in the community or cannot be imported from their country according to the legislation. The authorisation is accorded for a period of 3 months.

However, ingredients or processing aids which may be used in conventionally processed foodstuffs, and which preferably exist in nature, may be included in annex VI to the legislation, provided it has been shown that without having access to such substances, it is impossible to produce or preserve organic foodstuffs. This annex is becoming more comprehensive with increasing experience and in response to new cases. The certifying organisations thus sometimes authorise the use of certain elements that are not included on these lists, if these elements are indispensable and do not entail any risks to the consumer or the environment. This is the case for calcium carbide used in the production of pineapple.

These production rules are the same in Swiss (12) and Turkish (13) legislation.top

2.9.1.2 Labelling
Labelling and advertising organic products must be closely regulated in order to avoid fraud and to protect the consumer. For the EU, council regulation (EEC) Article 5 defines labelling rules. Labelling and advertising a product may refer to organic production methods only where:

The other elements listed depend on the percentage of organic products included in the final product. They are listed in table 10.

Table 10: European Union Labelling rules

Product Category
Labelling
Additional Indication
Raw material or processed product with at least 95% of the ingredients of organic agricultural origin of the product, a conversion period of at least 12 months before the harvest has been complied with. Organic farming product in principal denomination. Use of the organic farming logo after 2 years of organic farming.

The labelling must be accompanied by a reference to the ingredients of organic agricultural origin.

Processed products with 70% to 95% of the ingredients from organic agricultural origins. No mention in the principle denomination. The following indication appear in the list of ingredients :
-"X % of the agricultural ingredients were produced in accordance with the rules of organic production";
-Indication referring to organic production methods.
They appear in the same colour and with an identical size and style of lettering as the other indication, in a separate statement in the same visual field as the sales description
Products in conversion to organic production methods, provided that a conversion period of at least 12 months before harvest has been complied with and that the product contains only one ingredient of an agricultural origin. "Product under conversion to organic farming Such indication must appear in a colour, size, and style of letter in which it is not more prominent than the sales description of the product; the words "organic farming" will not be more prominent than the words "product under conversion to"

In Swiss legislation, the same labelling norms are applied (Chapter 3: article 18-20, (12)). In Turkey, the same rules apply for labelling (4th section: article 29-34, (13)), but other indications should appear:

 

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