Chlorine Dioxide Controls Postharvest Citrus Fruit Mold Growth

Citrus fruits account for a major source of vitamin C in diets across world cultures; tangerines, oranges, grapefruits, and lemons grow across continents, making them important for both global health-promoting diets and the international economy. The fruit subcategory accounts for approximately 148 million tons per year, which is undoubtedly significant. As food waste from expired products, such as fresh fruits, becomes increasingly problematic, scientists have looked to understand how to slow down the expiration process and otherwise prevent mold growth. This isn’t an easy task, as many look to do so in a cost-effective, sustainable manner that doesn’t overpower or overburden the existing ecosystem. One of the ways in which scientists have looked to gently prolong the viability of fruits is by slowing the growth of mold. Scientists Liu et al. (2020) studied Penicillium digitatum, the common green mold which grows on citrus fruits, and tested chlorine dioxide as a mechanism for controlling mold growth.

Liu et al., in their study “Chlorine dioxide controls green mold caused by Penicillium digitatum in citrus fruits and the mechanism involved” from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, were interested in understanding if chlorine dioxide could be effective in controlling the mold growth on citrus fruits, and if so, how it worked. They focused on controlling growth of Penicillium digitatum, known as “green rot”, while expressing that further work should be done to explore the growth of Penicillium italicum, known as “blue rot”. Liu et al. chose to study chlorine dioxide as a mechanism for slowing the mold growth, creating a mixture of chlorine dioxide and pressing the compound into tablets for application. The researchers found that 200-1800 mg/L of chlorine dioxide “significantly inhibited the incidence of green mold on kumquats, mandarins, Peru’s oranges, and grapefruits caused by P. digitatum” by attacking the growth on a cellular level, “destroying the membrane integrity of P. digitatum.” By using chlorine dioxide in vivo and in vitro, the team found that chlorine dioxide was effective in slowing growth on a cellular level, which has significant implications for its effectiveness in slowing the fungal growth.

The scholarly work also notes that chlorine dioxide is an excellent product to use in slowing the fungal growth because it’s “internationally recognized as a safe, pollution-free disinfectant and food preservative”, which, as previously noted, is important when considering the sustainability and longevity of efforts to preserve produce. This statistically significant measure in preserving the longevity of citrus fruits by slowing P. digitatum growth demonstrates the gentle yet powerful capabilities of chlorine dioxide in the food safety and preservation industries.

PureLine is an internationally recognized leader in chlorine dioxide disinfection, trusted by numerous food safety experts. With both wet and dry applications of the compound, PureLine has worked with food processing companies to serve a variety of disinfection, fumigation, and preservation efforts. To learn more about how your food processing plant can explore options of safety and longevity using chlorine dioxide, fill out the form below and a representative will quickly be in touch.