Tracking Changes in Stored Seasoned Zucchinis with NMR Technology

Jenn Hoskins
29th February, 2024

Tracking Changes in Stored Seasoned Zucchinis with NMR Technology

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study in Italy shows both compostable and plastic trays keep zucchinis fresh for 35 days at 4°C
  • Key freshness indicators like lactate and acetate were stable in both packaging types
  • NMR metabolomics is effective for monitoring food quality and shelf life
In the world of food science, maintaining the freshness and quality of produce during storage is a challenge that impacts both consumers and the environment. The National Research Council Italy has recently made strides in addressing this issue with a study[1] that utilizes nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) metabolomics, a technique for analyzing the chemical composition of food products. This study specifically examined the shelf life of baked and seasoned zucchinis when packaged in compostable versus plastic trays. The research team focused on the changes in key metabolites—substances formed in or necessary for metabolism—like lactate, acetate, malate, and various forms of sugars such as α and β glucose and sucrose. These metabolites are significant because their levels can indicate the freshness of the food and the progress of natural fermentation processes. By monitoring these substances, researchers can determine the best ways to preserve food quality over time. The study revealed that both compostable and plastic packaging effectively maintained the freshness of seasoned zucchinis for up to 35 days when stored at 4°C. This finding is particularly relevant as it suggests that more sustainable packaging options, such as compostable materials, do not compromise the shelf life of the product compared to traditional plastic trays. This research builds on previous studies that have explored the preservation of fresh produce. For instance, a multidisciplinary protocol[2] monitored the preservation of fresh pumpkin samples using various commercial polymeric films, including biodegradable options. The study found that certain biofilms were effective in preserving the quality of pumpkins, with some even showing promise in microbiological stability. The current study's use of NMR metabolomics extends this knowledge by providing a more detailed understanding of the molecular changes that occur during food storage. Furthermore, the study aligns with research on pasteurized milk[3], which identified the importance of real-time monitoring of metabolite changes to improve shelf-life estimation. Like the zucchini study, the milk research emphasized the role of temperature and storage duration on food stability, highlighting the potential for using metabolite monitoring to reduce food waste. The findings also resonate with research on microbial metabolism[4], where certain bacteria use metabolic processes to eliminate toxic byproducts like acetate. The zucchini study's observation of acetate as a marker of fermentation progress reflects a similar interest in understanding and managing the byproducts of metabolism in food preservation. The use of NMR metabolomics by the National Research Council Italy provides a promising tool for the food industry. It offers a non-invasive method to track the freshness of food products, which could lead to the development of real-time shelf-life indicators. Such advancements could not only prolong the shelf life of foods but also reduce waste by providing more accurate information on food quality. In conclusion, the study from the National Research Council Italy demonstrates the potential of NMR metabolomics as a method for monitoring food quality and shelf life, supporting the use of sustainable packaging options without sacrificing product integrity. This research complements previous studies on food preservation and offers a new perspective on how we can maintain the quality of our food in a more environmentally friendly manner.

VegetablesBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Monitoring the metabolite content of seasoned zucchinis during storage by NMR-based metabolomics.

Published 29th February, 2024

Related Studies

2) Commercial Bio-Packaging to Preserve the Quality and Extend the Shelf-Life of Vegetables: The Case-Study of Pumpkin Samples Studied by a Multimethodological Approach.

3) Metabolomic Markers of Storage Temperature and Time in Pasteurized Milk.

4) 2,3-Butanediol synthesis from glucose supplies NADH for elimination of toxic acetate produced during overflow metabolism.

Related Articles

An unhandled error has occurred. Reload 🗙