Conventional conservation techniques such as drying, salting or freezing do not allow for preserving the original characteristics of seaweeds. The present work aims to study the impact of minimal processing, in particular “Modified Atmosphere Packaging” (MAP), on the physicochemical characteristics and food safety of two seaweed species, “laver” (Porphyra umbilicalis) and “sea-lettuce” (Ulva lactuca), stored at 6 °C for 15 days. Different parameters were evaluated using analytical methods, namely the composition of headspace gases, color, texture, microorganisms, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The main findings of this study were that the MAP treatment was able to inhibit the respiration rate of minimally processed seaweeds, also preserving their color and texture. There was a remarkable reduction in the microbial load for P. umbilicalis treated under modified and vacuum atmospheres, and U. lactuca exhibited relatively steady values with no notable differences between the treatments and the control. Therefore, during the 15-day study period, both seaweeds met the requirements for food safety. GC–TOF-MS allowed to conclude that both MAP and vacuum treatments were more efficient in maintaining the odor characteristics of U. lactuca compared to P. umbilicalis with no significant differences throughout the storage days. Metabolic responses to diverse sources of abiotic stress seemed to account for most of the changes observed.
- food conservation
- food safety
- modified atmosphere packaging (MAP)
- physicochemical characterization