Recent advances in physical post-harvest treatments for shelf-life extension of cereal crops

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Schmidt, Marcus
Zannini, Emanuele
Arendt, Elke K.
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As a result of the rapidly growing global population and limited agricultural area, sufficient supply of cereals for food and animal feed has become increasingly challenging. Consequently, it is essential to reduce pre- and post-harvest crop losses. Extensive research, featuring several physical treatments, has been conducted to improve cereal post-harvest preservation, leading to increased food safety and sustainability. Various pests can lead to post-harvest losses and grain quality deterioration. Microbial spoilage due to filamentous fungi and bacteria is one of the main reasons for post-harvest crop losses and mycotoxins can induce additional consumer health hazards. In particular, physical treatments have gained popularity making chemical additives unnecessary. Therefore, this review focuses on recent advances in physical treatments with potential applications for microbial post-harvest decontamination of cereals. The treatments discussed in this article were evaluated for their ability to inhibit spoilage microorganisms and degrade mycotoxins without compromising the grain quality. All treatments evaluated in this review have the potential to inhibit grain spoilage microorganisms. However, each method has some drawbacks, making industrial application difficult. Even under optimal processing conditions, it is unlikely that cereals can be decontaminated of all naturally occurring spoilage organisms with a single treatment. Therefore, future research should aim for the development of a combination of treatments to harness their synergistic properties and avoid grain quality deterioration. For the degradation of mycotoxins the same conclusion can be drawn. In addition, future research must investigate the fate of degraded toxins, to assess the toxicity of their respective degradation products.
Cereal grains , Shelf life , Spoilage microorganisms , Mycotoxins , Physical decontamination
Schmidt, M., Zannini, E. and Arendt, E. (2018) 'Recent advances in physical post-harvest treatments for shelf-life extension of cereal crops', Foods, 7(4), 45 (22pp). doi: 10.3390/foods7040045