Optical oxygen sensors were used to ascertain the level of oxygen consumed by individual salad leaves for optimised packaging of ready-to-eat (RTE) Italian salad mixes during refrigerated storage. Seven commonly found leaves in Italian salad mixes were individually assessed for oxygen utilisation in packs. Each leaf showed varying levels of respiration throughout storage. Using the information obtained, an experimental salad mix was formulated (termed Mix 3) which consisted of the four slowest respiring salad leaves-Escarole, Frisee, Red Batavia, Lollo Rosso. Mix 3 was then compared against two commercially available Italian salads; Mix 1 (Escarole, Frisee, Radicchio, Lollo Rosso) and Mix 2 (Cos, Frisee, Radicchio, Lollo Rosso). Optical sensors were used to non-destructively monitor oxygen usage in all mixes throughout storage. In addition to oxygen consumption, all three salad mixes were quality assessed in terms of microbial load and sensorial acceptability. In conclusion, Mix 3 was found to consume the least amount of oxygen over time, had the lowest microbial load and was most sensorially preferred (p < 0.05) in terms of overall appearance and acceptability. This study clearly shows the potential that oxygen sensors possess in terms of assisting in the optimised development of commercial RTE salad products.
University College Cork ->