Researchers apply probiotics to fresh-cut apples

by Jeff Gelski
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DUBLIN, IRELAND — Researchers in Ireland investigated whether a probiotic microorganism (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG or LGG) may be applied to fresh-cut apple wedges. Results of the study appeared on-line Sept. 9 in Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies.

"Minimally processed freshly prepared fruits are a popular item and are perceived as healthy by consumers," wrote researchers from the Ashtown Food Research Centre in Dublin, Moorepark Food Research Centre in Cork, Ireland, and University College Dublin. "They are therefore an ideal vehicle for incorporation of other functional components such as probiotics."

Skin-on wedges of Braeburn apples were dipped into an edible buffer solution containing LGG probiotic strains. The amount was sufficient for a probiotic effect and comparable to the amount of probiotic bacteria in commercially available dairy products.

Physicochemical properties of the apple wedges containing LGG probiotic strains compared to the control group of fresh-cut apple wedges remained stable over a 10-day period. The LGG probiotic strains demonstrated good adherence to the surface of the apple wedges. The researchers also monitored eating quality parameters, including texture, soluble solids and pH, and sensory acceptability.

"This will provide an alternative probiotic food choice for consumers and could be particularly appealing to children," researchers wrote about the apple wedges with probiotic strains. "The process for making this product is relatively simple, and the product would retail from the conventional chill counters of supermarket stores. It is likely the price would be competitive with existing probiotic dairy products."

LGG probiotic strains already appear in such foods as Danimals brand drinkable yogurts from Groupe Danone. Scientific studies have shown LGG probiotic strains help improve immune function and have a positive effect on gastrointestinal function.

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