Every now and then we come across a defect, assume we know how it should be scored and then find ourselves surprised when we discover the USDA has a very different scoring guideline. How about the defect, “surface mold” on pineapples? We commonly find mold affecting pineapples, usually around the base, or the cut stem end. It may be white, sometimes showing hints of gray or even blue. Most people (including myself) would score the pineapple as a defect if the mold was readily noticeable.
Looking at the image above, would you score this pineapple as a defect? Let’s see…..do you think it materially affects the appearance of the pineapple? If you were in a grocery store and noticed this pineapple, would you buy it? Would you look for another pineapple without the mold? If you answered “yes” to these questions then you should score this pineapple as a defect, on the general scoring guidelines for damage and serious damage. But the USDA has their own opinion. The following comes from their Inspection Instruction Manual for Pineapples:
Mold growth will usually not be a factor if the pineapples are stored properly. However, on occasion, a white to gray mold growth will form on the tops, and/or fruit. Mold growth on the fruit can be on the shell or at the cut stem end. Even though the mold does not affect the flesh, it may appear objectionable. If mold growth is objectionable, use the following as a guide; score as damage when more than 25% of the surface is affected and as serious damage when more than 50% of the surface is affected.
Do you agree with their guideline…..only score as a defect when the mold is objectionable AND is affecting more than 25% of the surface?
The mold would have to affect an area greater than 25% of the surface, not just 25% of the stem or bottom area. In the image above you can see one side of the pineapple, or 50% of its surface. If we divide the side in half, we can see how much of a surface area 25% is. Based on the USDA’s scoring guideline for surface mold, the pineapple shown at the top would not be scored as a defect.