Tomato is widely consumed in the world and its concentrated paste represents the main product from industrial tomato cultivars. One of the industry's biggest challenges is to produce in a sustainable and effective chain to simultaneously fulfill the cost reduction and quality improvement demands. This study aimed to show the loss of tomato paste quality attributes along its industrial processing chain, focusing on three parameters: (1) ascorbic acid content; (2) color and (3) consistency. Samples of tomato paste (29 °Brix) were subjected to thermal treatment at 60, 70 and 80°C, cooled down and analyzed for the mentioned attributes by kinetic parameters. Both ascorbic acid (z = 62.8°C, R2 = 0.9499) and instrumental color (z = 19.0°C, R2 = 0.9924 for a*/b*, and z = 16.3°C, R2 = 0.9897 for TPS) parameters degradation were well described by first-order kinetic models. Consistency attributes were not affected by the thermal treatment temperature. The temperature effect at each stage of processing allowed identifying the sterilization and storage steps as responsible for the greater degradation of color and ascorbic acid, respectively. The industry must control sterilization and increase sun protection in the offseason to preserve color and ascorbic acid, ensure lower losses of sensorial quality without reducing its productive flexibility, always prioritizing food safety.
Key words: Color, storage, shelf life, vitamin C, consistency.
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