Changes in appearance during the spoilage process of fruits and vegetables: Implications for consumer use and disposal

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Abstract

People waste a lot of food, especially at the consumption stage in consumer households. Despite the urgency of this topic, little is known about how consumers use visual inspection to decide to throw away fruits and vegetables at different stages of ripening and spoilage. We presented 366 US consumers with images of a banana, mango, cucumber, and avocado in 5 stages of decay in an online study and we determined how signs of decay affected participants’ consumption, preparation and disposal behaviors. As expected, product attractiveness, freshness, healthiness, and nutritiousness decreased, while the degree of decay, overripeness, and disgust increased over time. The number of people willing to consume the product was linearly related to the perceived proportion of the product affected by decay, while the number of people wanting to cut off bad parts was highest when about 40% of the product was judged to be affected. As time went on, the banana was cooked and mashed more often, while the cucumber was peeled more often. As growing, ripening and decay differ considerably between agricultural products, it is important to take sensory and preparation differences into account when investigating consumption and disposal behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100184
Number of pages11
JournalCleaner and Responsible Consumption
Volume12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Decay
  • Decision making
  • Food literacy
  • Food safety
  • Food waste

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