Sliced apples that stay fresh for two weeks may soon be available in schools, grocery stores and salad bars nationwide, thanks to research by U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists.

Scientists with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Albany, CA, discovered that certain calcium salts protect apple slices from color, taste or texture changes. Mantrose-Haeusr Co., Inc., of Westport, CO, then developed a proprietary blend of vitamins and minerals based on the research that keeps cut apples fresh for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. The company sells the product as Nature Seal to the food service industry.

"This is a great example of USDA partnering with industry to create nutritious products that consumers want," said ARS Administrator Floyd Horn.

Surveys by the Washington Apple Commission in Wenatchee, WA, indicate that school children are likely to eat more applies if the fruit is served cut rather than whole.

"Children in some school lunch programs already enjoy these apples," Horn said. "Any research that leads to increased consumption of healthy food is money well spent."

ARS and Mantrose-Haeuser have patented the process.

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