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I am interested in knowing if there have been studies in quantifying the quality of vegetables and fruits. By simple examination, it is possible for us to identify if a particular vegetable is 'spoilt'. But does this transitioning from 'edible' to 'spoilt' happen instantaneously? Or is it possible to model this transformation by a random process?

When producers and retailers determine shelf life, is it only based on anecdotal knowledge? Is there a systematic process by which quality can be determined and quantified?

I shall be glad if you could point me to studies that look at time to expiry and hazard rates of vegetables under variously controlled environments. I am happy to have the data for one or more common vegetables or fruits.

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    $\begingroup$ What exactly do you mean by "quality"? Do you only mean edible vs spoilt? $\endgroup$ – terdon Feb 16 '16 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ @terdon: Spoilt is an extreme case. I am more interested in the 'curve' from edible to spoilt, over time. Is it a step function, where suddenly on a day, it becomes spoilt? Or is it more gradual? Again, is this curve deterministic or random? Such type of questions. $\endgroup$ – Bravo Feb 16 '16 at 11:26
  • $\begingroup$ OK, in that case, please edit your question and make it more specific. "Quality" can refer to any number of things. $\endgroup$ – terdon Feb 16 '16 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ At which level do you want to detect spoilage? By spoilage do you mean decay or just infected by some microbe? Some fruits/vegetables may lose their quality i.e. start degrading by themseleves and this may have not result from exogenous infection. Can you clarify on this. In any case, the assay may vary for different fruits and vegetables. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Feb 16 '16 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ In that case I would suggest that you focus on a specific kind of fruit/vegetable because each one of them can yield different degradation products. Or else, you frame your question like a reference-request which means you should mention what all details you are expecting. (Optional but recommended: add some results from your own search [such as this], and indicate what kind of topics you are/aren't expecting) $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Feb 16 '16 at 17:02

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