ABSTRACT

The use of chemical pesticides can have many detrimental side effects, including environmental pollution, and be a threat to human health. Carbon dioxide (CO2) treatment, a relatively new method for storage pest management, can replace harmful chemicals. Dates, an important food worldwide, contains many minerals, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and are an important dried fruit export from Iran annually. Thus, control of the pests of dried dates by using eco-friendly agents that do not affect quality features are critical. In this study, larval mortality of the Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella (Hübner)) and the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella (L.)), two key pests of stored products, especially dried dates, was studied after exposure to different CO2 pressures within 24 h. Mortality percentages of the third-instar larvae of both pests were increased with an increase in CO2 pressure. Sensory tests on the qualitative characteristics of the dates revealed that CO2 pressures did not affect their aroma, color, sweetness, sourness, crispness, firmness, and overall acceptance. The highest tested pressure (33.4 mol%) of CO2 also had no significant effects on the chemical properties of the date samples, including moisture content, pH, acidity, Brix value, reducing sugar, and total sugar. We conclude that atmospheric CO2 gas can provide a cost-effective and environmentally friendly method for controlling the insect pests of dried dates in addition to preserving their sensory and quality properties.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • CO2 caused significant mortality of P. interpunctella and G. mellonella larvae.

  • Larval susceptibility was augmented by increasing CO2 pressure.

  • CO2 had no effects on the sensory characteristics and chemical properties of dried dates.

  • CO2 was capable of fast disinfection.

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