[ASC-media] NSW DPI research paves the way for classifying mild onions
joanne.finlay at dpi.nsw.gov.au
joanne.finlay at dpi.nsw.gov.au
Tue Sep 18 04:05:59 CEST 2007
MEDIA RELEASE | NSW DEPARTMENT OF PRIMARY INDUSTRIES
18 September 2007
NSW DPI research paves the way for classifying mild onions
Onions that are mild in favour and suitable for eating raw are to be
labelled as mild under a new system for classifying onions.
Australia?s onion industry has decided to support the development of a
mild onion certification system following research from the NSW Department
of Primary Industries (DPI) demonstrating that pungency can be reliably
NSW DPI postharvest researcher, Dr John Golding, says the lack of a
reliable, cost-effective test has been the major barrier to date for the
development of an Australian mild onion industry.
Dr Golding concluded it is possible to consistently grade onions according
to taste after carrying out research with Food Science Australia in Sydney
and at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute.
Using a specially constructed onion press, NSW DPI researchers measured
levels of the chemical that causes pungency in onions - pyruvate ? in
These levels were then cross checked against rankings collated from a
sensory tasting panel and more than 100 consumers.
A trained panel of sensory experts and untrained consumers took part in
these taste trials, and both groups were able to reliably and accurately
perceive differences between higher and lower levels of pyruvate.
?As expected, onions with the lower levels of pyruvate were equally
?liked? and those onions with the higher levels of pyruvate were equally
?disliked??, Dr Golding said.
Dr Golding presented the highlights of his research at the Australasian
Postharvest Conference, held in Terrigal last week.
He also spoke about follow-up research, analysing levels of pyruvate in
mild onions purchased anonymously over several months from both NSW and SA
retail outlets. This study found that some onions sold as mild were in
fact not mild.
Dr Golding said because pungency increases with storage, it is recommended
that mild onions be consumed no more than 30 days after harvest.
Pungency also varies with differing soil types and nutrient levels, making
it necessary to collect onion samples for pungency testing just prior to
Onions with pungencies close to the limit for the mild classification may
need to be tested 30 days after the pre-harvest test, while those with
lower pungency may not need re-testing if sold within 60 days of the
The research project was facilitated by Horticulture Australia Limited
(HAL) in partnership with the Australian Onion Industry Association and
was funded by the onion levy. The Australian Government provides matched
funding for all HAL?s R&D activities.
Media inquiries: Joanne Finlay on 6391 3171 or 0428 491 813
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