Potato preservation: ensuring optimal processing and storage conditions every step of the supply chain
Potato preservation can only be achieved by ensuring adequate light, moisture, ventilation and temperature conditions at all times. Potato processing and storage must adhere to a series of stringent requirements to ensure the highest levels of freshness, quality and safety.
This article addresses...
- KEY CONDITIONS FOR OPTIMAL POTATO PRESERVATION
- RISKS OF INADEQUATE PRESERVATION
- GREEN LIGHTING SYSTEM: FEATURES AND ADVANTAGES OF GREEN LIGHTING
- SECOM LUMINAIRES FOR OPTIMAL POTATO PRESERVATION
Potatoes are a staple food for millions of people around the world. Producers, processors, storage companies and distributors must therefore put in place a series of procedures to ensure potatoes stay fresh from the field to the consumer’s plates. This includes ensuring warehouses; isolation; mechanical, electrical and lighting requirements; and monitoring systems help minimise loss.
Key conditions for optimal potato preservation
Potato freshness can be guaranteed by strictly monitoring the following conditions:
Storage temperatures have a direct impact on the freshness of potatoes. When stored between 6 and 10°C, potatoes stay fresher for longer. This temperature range is slightly higher than that of refrigeration.
Potatoes must be stored at a relative humidity (RH) of 90% to 95% to ensure firm, fresh potatoes. Potatoes will quickly spoil if these levels are not maintained.
Adequate ventilation also contributes to ensuring optimal temperature and humidity levels to prevent bacteria and fungi from forming.
Light exposure also plays a key role in ensuring optimal freshness and preventing the greening of potato tubers. When potatoes green, a poisonous chemical compound called solanine forms and, when eaten in large quantities, this can cause illness. Symptoms of solanine poisoning include vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, and other acute symptoms.
Potato storage facilities need to be dark enough to ensure optimal preservation but also offer employees adequate visibility so they may carry out their work safely. Green light is one solution to this conundrum.
Riesgos de una mala conservación
Some risks of inadequate storage include:
Inadequate storage can lead to potato tubers greening and solanine subsequently forming. Solanine is a glycoalkaloid and high intakes of solanine can pose a safety concern to humans. In fact, glycoalkaloids can lead to food poisoning, and while cases of food poisoning are uncommon, solanine can be found in potatoes which were inadequately stored.
Potatoes produce excess chlorophyll when exposed to excessive light during storage. Chlorophyll isn’t a health concern per se, but it is an indicator that toxic glycoalkaloids, such as solanine and chaconine, are present and that the potatoes are inedible.
Sprouts appearing on potatoes is another indicator of inadequate processing and storage practices. The quality of the product starts to be affected and becomes toxic if large quantities of sprouted potatoes are eaten in excess.
The potato sector used the herbicide chlorpropham as a sprout suppressant during storage until 2020.
However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that the use of chlorpropham had adverse effects and it has been banned in the EU since then.
Green Lighting System: Features and advantages of green lighting
The use of conventional light (white light) is not recommended for potato preservation and storage. Several studies have demonstrated the harmful effect white light has at all stages of the supply chain as it reduces the quality of the product. Hence, the development and use of green light.
Thanks to existing LED (light emitting diode) technology, optimal food product processing and storage are guaranteed. In fact, you can even coat diodes to filter out longitudinal waves, thus limiting the emitted spectrum.
The red/blue spectrum is most harmful because it encourages potatoes to grow and sprout. This in turn causes solanine to appear which is not only bitter tasting but also toxic. Symptoms include a burning sensation in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and dizziness.
Green light luminaires offer the perfect solution to prevent solanine and chlorophyll from producing. At SECOM, we manufacture this unique lighting solution for the potato industry and offer a selection of diodes that deliver 520-540 nm wavelengths.
The use of green light is an excellent way to offer a safe accident-free working environment for workers and significantly reduce the use of chemical products during the logistical process.
LED luminaires are also a highly energy efficient alternative, using up to 90% less energy than traditional lights and requiring very little maintenance. With an IP rating of 65, LED luminaires are water-and dust-resistant, and equipped with an adjustable driver, a movement detector and an emergency kit. Furthermore, we conduct a personalised lighting assessment.
SECOM luminaires for optimal potato preservation
At SECOM, we offer a vast selection of LED luminaires, including some uniquely designed to deliver top preservation conditions for potatoes. These include:
Konak N1/N2, a suspended LED luminaire with unbeatable features, and; Berna Supra and Protek Q2 which are surface luminaires.
Thanks to these innovative green light solutions, the potato industry has access to bespoke solutions that ensure the optimal freshness of potatoes throughout the entire supply chain – from the field to the consumer’s plate.
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