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Effect of salt and organic acid on storage quality of minimally processed Indian spinach

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In Bangladesh, there are still significant losses of agricultural products due to inadequate use of technology during cultivation, handling, storage, and preservation. An alternative technology to minimize post-harvest losses is the minimal processing of vegetables (Chitarra, 1999). The demand for minimally processed vegetables has promoted an increase in the nutritional quality and safety of a variety of food products. In Bangladesh, total area of Indian spinach cultivation is about 10217 hectares with the production of 78665 metric tons in 2015-2016 (BBS, 2016). Minimal processing is an integrated approach, where raw materials handling, processing, packaging, and distribution must all be properly considered to make shelf-life extension possible and offer consumer with high nutrition. Being living materials, fresh-cut produce can modify the atmosphere in their packages as a result of respiratory O2 consumption and CO2 evolution (Pirovani et al., 1998). Major problems associated with fresh-cut vegetables are the development of strong off-odors and decay, discoloration, and tissue softening (Zagory and Kader, 1988). The physical damage accrued during minimal processing, especially with wounding, causes disruption of the cellular membrane, putting enzymes and their substrates in direct contact, which accelerates the loss of quality and storage life. Unit operations applied in the commercial production of minimally processed vegetables usually include cleaning, peeling, cutting, washing, and packaging. To increase the shelf life of vegetables, different types of synthetic chemicals are used commercially that are harmful for human beings. But organic substances and safe salts can be the alternative of hazardous synthetic chemicals.

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We can minimize the undesirable changes by immersing the cut produce in different treatment solutions at the ultimate stage of handling operations. For maintaining quality of minimally processed produce such as potato, spinach and apple ascorbic and citric acids, sodium met bisulphite and sodium chloride have been utilized in many parts of the world as appropriate preservatives (Ahvenainen, 1996).

At present, Indian spinach is selected to minimally process due to its rich nutritional contents and higher use in our daily life for preparing of variety of foods. Moreover, nutrients like iron, calcium and vitamin K are present in higher concentrations due to which it becomes more beneficial against some serious health problems like anaemia, haemorrhage and clotting dysfunction and to maintain electrolytes balance in our body (Raheem et al., 2015). Now a day’s, people, especially the office going ladies, are becoming busy for different activities and they have no enough time to process vegetables by washing, cutting, peeling for ready to eat. Again, sometimes the quality of those vegetables is not so satisfactory for health; it may not be fresh, mature or other problems as well. Due to those reasons, people lose interest to take vegetables. This kind of problems can be overcome by providing minimally processed vegetables. Therefore, the present study was conducted to evaluate the physical and chemical properties of minimally processed Indian spinach, to evaluate the effects of NaCl, KMS and Citric acid on minimally processed Indian spinach, and to study the hygienic quality of minimally processed Indian spinach.

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