Factors affecting the postharvest performance of fresh-cut lettuce

I.M. Witkowska

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


The quality of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables is often offset by a rapid deterioration, due to severe physical stress, such as peeling, cutting, slicing, shredding, and trimming. Due to this wounding, the already short shelf-life of these harvested products is even more reduced in the market place. In addition, consumers have become more critical on the use of synthetic and chemical additives to preserve quality attributes of fresh-cut produce. Developing new, effective, non-invasive and non-chemical techniques for improving and maintaining quality in fresh-cut produce are the timely questions of the industry.

The work reported in this thesis adds to the increasing knowledge and understanding on how pre- and postharvest factors affect the storability of fresh-cut leafy vegetables. This work focused in particular on factors that up to date have not been systematically investigated such as (i) environment and genetic dependent antioxidant levels, (ii) plant age at harvest, (iii) light during post-processing storage and (iv) duration and conditions of storage prior to processing.

The factors under investigation are discussed in the light of their effects on the shelf-life of fresh-cut tissue as related to a number of physiological processes associated with tissue browning and senescence. We found that plant age at harvest and storage of the harvested crop prior to processing are important determinants of fresh-cut performance: the younger the plant and the shorter the storage period prior to processing, the longer the shelf life of the fresh-cut product. In addition, the application of low levels of light during storage and display of the fresh-cut product greatly prolonged the shelf-life. The physiological and biochemical background of these phenomena was investigated.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Woltering, Ernst, Promotor
  • Harbinson, Jeremy, Co-promotor
Award date24 Jun 2013
Place of Publication[S.l.
Print ISBNs9789461735744
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • lettuces
  • fresh products
  • keeping quality
  • postharvest treatment

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