Post-harvest line is the stage of crop production immediately following harvest. It includes cooling, cleaning, sorting and packing.
Fresh produce begins to deteriorate over time. Post-harvest treatment largely determines the final quality of the commodity.
Fruits and vegetables are a rich source of vitamins and minerals essential for human nutrition. These are wasted in transit from the place of harvest to the final consumer. It represents a loss in the quantity as well as quality of food that we can consider to be a valuable source of health and nutrition for us.
Horticulture contributes 30% of GDP of India which indicates its importance in the Indian economy. Improper post-harvest handling of fresh produce can lead to a considerable loss of such produce. In fact, there is a considerable gap between the gross production and net availability of fresh produce. Market value and consumer acceptability depends upon the post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables. If these losses are minimized, it can help in increasing the supply with the existing cultivable land that is available.
The common post-harvest losses are –
• Losses due to improper handling;
• Mechanical losses like cracking, bruising, cuts and microbial spoilage by fungi and bacteria.
• Physiological losses which include changes in respiration, transpiration, pigments, organic acids and flavour.
For example, there is an estimated post-harvest loss for onions lying at a range that can be anywhere between 25-40%.
Important areas where we face the post-harvest losses are at the farmers’ fields, including during the time of packaging, transportation and marketing.
To protect fresh produce from contamination, proper food safety practices, in addition to GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) are the need of the hour to prevent food-borne diseases.
There are four types of safety problems/hazards that occur for post-harvest handling of fresh produce:-
• Physical problems/hazards – harmful foreign bodies such as fasteners (staples, nails, etc.);
• Chemical problems/hazards – Pesticides, fungicides, etc.;
• Mechanical problems/hazards – machine lubricants, Industrial toxins, etc.;
• Pathogens – Bacteria, Viruses, etc.
Proper post-harvest safety practices are necessary, in order to efficiently deal with all such problems, such as pre-sorting and cleaning (washing) before moving them to the packing-house.
Post-harvest management practices reduce product loss due to spoilage or shrinkage and microbial risks.
These include: –
• Pre-sorting – eliminates defective or decayed produce.
• Cleaning – includes washing & brushing.
(Washing – applicable for fruits and vegetables such as apples, mangoes, bananas, potatoes, carrots, green leaves, etc.)
Brushing – applicable for commodities such as kiwifruits, avocados, etc.)
• Sorting/Grading/Sizing – optional and for large packing units.
• Packaging – Suitable containers are used to pack.
• Quick cooling/Good refrigerated storage – Storing the packed commodity.
• Goods transportation & distribution – Either to the market or at the retail consumer points.
The choice will depend upon the type of commodity and the degree/type of contamination.
In a nutshell, we can assess the benefits of post-harvest handling line and they are as follows:
• It plays a key role in increasing the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables;
• It determines the overall appearance, taste, flavour and texture of the commodity;
• It delays the ripening of fruit;
• It extends their storage life.
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We, M/s. SS ENGINEERS & CONSULTANTS, are a leading supplier of food processing equipment and solutions which include machinery, complete flow layouts, product lines, CIP systems, Steam pipe lines, hot and cold water systems, piping and drainage. Established in 1999, we are a globally recognized manufacturer and supplier of a wide range of equipment and services.
We have been manufacturing Dairy, Pharma & Chemical equipment, Tanks, Vessels, Pumps, and Industrial Cleaning Equipment, etc. for mini, medium, and large plants. We are the conglomerate of Sri Pumps Mfg. Co., MRK Industries and SS Engineers & Consultants.