Considerable research has focused on the control of the physiological activity of fruits and vegetables in postharvest conditions as well as microbial decay. The use of edible coatings (ECs) carrying active compounds (e.g., antimicrobials) represents an alternative preservation technology since they can modify the internal gas composition by creating a modified atmosphere through the regulation of the gas exchange (oxygen, carbon dioxide, volatiles) while also limiting water transfer. Of the edible polymers able to form coating films, starch exhibits several advantages, such as its ready availability, low cost and good filmogenic capacity, forming colourless and tasteless films with high oxygen barrier capacity. Nevertheless, starch films are highly water sensitive and exhibit limited water vapour barrier properties and mechanical resistance. Different compounds, such as plasticizers, surfactants, lipids or other polymers, have been incorporated to improve the functional properties of starch-based films/coatings. This paper reviews the starch-based ECs used to preserve the main properties of fruits and vegetables in postharvest conditions as well as the different factors affecting the coating efficiency, such as surface properties or incorporation of antifungal compounds. The great variability in the plant products requires specific studies to optimize the formulation of coating forming products.
Coatings 2018, 8(5), 152