Known for its Xtend brand bags and pallet shrouds designed to lengthen the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables, StePac Ltd. is developing new methods for controlling postharvest diseases and shrink.
A key factor in the work is development of a technical assistance program for produce packers to help them with food safety issues related to disease and decay. StePac has a new lab with specialized equipment for the research program.
The new program focuses on microbiology and phytopathology and is headed by Nadav Nitzan in StePac’s main research and development unit in Israel, according to a news release. The company has offices around the world, with its North American headquarters in Romeoville, Ill.
Nitzan said in the release he is particularly concerned with evaluating how to control disease caused by molds, yeasts and bacteria.
His research group is working to develop packaging that will complement StePac’s Xtend products to further reduce decay and shrink.
Work is already underway, according to the release.
In a recent study Nitzan and researchers diagnosed the cause of a pink discoloration found on the bottom of white asparagus spears. Nitzan’s team identified rhodotorula minuta, a pink budding yeast, as the cause and conducted a series of tests to eradicate it.
“Of the various compounds tested, three commercial sanitizers eradicated the yeast at concentrations of 80-100 parts per million,” Nitzan said in the release.
“The encouraging in vitro results are already being utilized commercially to control pink butt contamination on white asparagus.”