No more browning in cut lettuce, or so scientists in the US would have us believe following the development of a new technology. Their discovery could shortly have an impact on the $2 billion (€1.76bn)bagged salad industry in the US, claims the discovery company, Senesco Technologies.
Together with Harris Moran Seed company, Senesco claims that they have reduced and delayed browning in cut lettuce using proprietary gene technology that slows the onset of cell death.
The technology, developed by Senesco, was applied to iceberg and romaine lettuce, the most popular types in pre-packaged salads. In field trials, the company reports that both types of lettuce browned less, thanks to the technology that delayed plant cell death, or senescence.
Senesco's technology works by controlling and limiting the senescence by modulating the signals that trigger plant deterioration. This can ensure better product quality by reducing the damage caused by environmental stress, harvest, and handling. In today's climate, archly critical of genetically modified foods, Senesco stressed the point that its new technology does not involve the introduction of any foreign genetic material. "We believe that our technology, along with Harris Moran's expertise in developing seed varieties, will yield superior products that brown less," said Bruce Galton, president and CEO of Senesco.
Harris Moran's lettuce product manager Bill Murray believes that the technology need not stop at iceberg and romaine lettuce but that it could lead to a wider variety of products within the bagged salad industry.
"Controlling senescence could allow lettuce varieties that aren't currently marketed in the same bag to be more compatible. This new marketing flexibility could lead to different mixes, different colours, and new and different products," said Mr. Murray.