University of California

Ask the Produce Docs (General)

What is the white material oozing from our fresh-cut sweet potatoes?

Category
  • Fresh-cut Fruits & Vegetables
Question

We process sweet potatoes each fall for only a short period of time. We peel, dice, wash and package. In the last week we have had a couple customer complaints regarding white liquid oozing from the diced product a day or two after processing. They are saying the product must be going bad. Online I have found references to this white ooze as sap or latex. The various articles all state it is a naturally occurring process and the product is fine and safe. Most of these online references are question and answer type forums. I have not found anything with any authoritative proof that this is not an issue of product spoilage or anything similar. Are you familiar with this issue with sweet potatoes or know someone who is? Do you have any reference articles stating this is not a quality issue? I would appreciate any assistance you may be able to provide. (R.J.)

Answer

I have not worked with fresh-cut sweet potatoes, but I think your assumption that this is sap or latex is correct. In order to determine whether you have a microbial safety issue, if I were you I would send samples to an analytical lab that can test for total plate count and yeasts and mold. I have some of these in the California area listed under ‘Resources for the Food Industry’ on my website, but these are primarily based in California.

                                                 --Diane Barrett

 

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