Food Engineering
TECH FLASH

Modified atmosphere packaging can help meet logistical challenges while improving freshness

MAP packaging does not affect taste or nutrition the way heat sterilization and freezing do.

August 14, 2013
Modified atmosphere packaging can help meet logistical challenges while improving freshness
Modified air packaging can help meats and other perishable goods stay fresh until ready for use.

When cheese grows moldy or meat spoils, it’s not only unfit for human consumption but also wastes consumer and manufacturer money. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) technology uses gas mixtures within a package to preserve food without affecting taste, quality, texture or nutrition the way heat sterilization or freezing do.

Packaging machinery that incorporates MAP technology via hermetic sealing can greatly improve product freshness, extending shelf life while reducing the need to add preservatives. These advantages help manufacturers meet logistical transportation challenges while appealing to increasingly health-conscious consumers.

MAP is based on blending the correct proportions of gases into a packaging environment to address the varying rates of spoilage of fresh foods. The gases most commonly used in MAP are oxygen (O2), carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N2). Leon Arkesteijn of Bosch Packaging Technology says fresh foods are “living” products, and therefore, consume oxygen while giving off carbon dioxide, water and heat.

“Maintaining the right mixture of gases and regulating moisture are critical to maintaining and extending shelf life, and each specific food being packaged requires a unique blend of gases,” says Arkesteijn. For example, fresh meat necessitates high oxygen levels while the shelf life of hard cheese can be extended by up to 10 weeks by keeping it in a 100 percent carbon dioxide environment.

The chart below provides the gas mixture and extended shelf-life estimate for popular food categories:

Food

Gas Mixture

Extended Shelf Life

Meats

70% O2 + 30% CO2

Note: percentages can vary depending on type of meat

2 – 5 days

Fresh Fish

40% CO+ 30% O2 + 30% N2

3 – 10 days

Hard Cheese

100% CO2

3 – 10 weeks

Soft Cheese

70% CO2 + 30% N2

8 – 21 days

Fruit & Vegetables

80% N2 + 5% O2 + 15% CO2

3 – 8 days

Pre-baked Bread

100% CO2

5 – 20 days

Sandwiches

70% CO2 + 30% N2

2 – 10 days

Coffee

100% N2

+12 months

 

 

Gas mixers and controllers, gas analyzers, tubing for flushing gas into a packaging environment and flow wrapping machinery for hermetic sealing have enhanced the effectiveness of MAP applications. Recent innovations in flow wrapping technology, including extended dwell times, have resulted in reliable, air-tight seals.

For more information on MAP technologies, visit www.boschpackaging.com or contact Leon Arkesteijn, product manager, at: +31(10)4885-727.