Modified Atmosphere Packaging
Extending the shelf-life of perishable foods.
Changing the atmosphere inside the packaging means that the shelf life of many fresh products can be extended. For example, by decreasing the amount of oxygen and increasing the carbon dioxide the shelf life of many fruits may be significantly improved. Using various gas combinations it is also possible to slow down the growth of bacteria and extend the shelf-life of other perishable foods like meat, fish and vegetables.
What is Modified Atmosphere Packaging?
Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is also referred to as gas flushing, protective atmosphere packaging or reduced Oxygen packaging.
It enables fresh and minimally processed packaged food products to maintain visual, textual and nutritional appeal. Through the precise control of the package’s gaseous environment, the shelf life of the product can be extended without the requirement of adding chemical preservatives or stabilisers. The ageing process is slowed down which reduces colour loss, odour and off-taste resulting from product deterioration, spoilage and rancidity that can be caused by mould and anaerobic organisms.
As a result, manufacturers will have more control over product quality, availability and costs. They can eliminate product rotation, removal and restocking which will reduce labour and waste disposal costs. Furthermore, distribution territories can be widened and product replacement cycles extended which reduces production replacement demands. As a result, overall profits will be maximised.
At Edinburgh Sensors, we understand that processors of food products rely on MAP in order to meet customer expectations of fresh and appetising products.
How does Modified Atmosphere Packaging work?
MAP consists of the optimal blend of atmospheric gases within a high barrier or permeable package. These gases include a finely balanced mix of pure oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
The packaging can include plastic films, foils and other packaging materials with specified gas or water permeability. The atmosphere within these high barrier substrates is controlled through a precisely adjusted gas blend which provides the specific respiration needs for each food product. For example, meats generally benefit from a MAP containing 70-80 % oxygen, whereas seafoods and shellfish usually benefit from low oxygen levels and more carbon dioxide.
Each aspect of the MAP needs to be carefully controlled at each stage. For example, the film permeability, water transmission rate and sealing characteristics need to be tested at selection, package converting and product fill stages as the ability to capacitate gas blend may vary.
The use of sensors in Modified Atmospheric Packaging
Gas sensors are an essential piece of equipment needed in order to accurately monitor and determine the concentrations of the different gases when producing the optimal blend. The gas sensors used for MAP need to be capable of real-time gas monitoring and analysis.
The Guardian and GasCard series of gas sensors from Edinburgh Sensors Guardian and GasCard series of real-time gas monitors excels, developed using nearly 30 years of expertise in gas sensor technologies. Both devices offer highly-accurate, high quality online gas sensing capabilities for the detection of CO2, well suited for many MAP requirements.
Find out more about our role in MAP
If you are interested in MAP, please read our blog article about Gas Sensors for the Development of Modified Atmospheric Packaging.
Please also view our products listed below which can be used for modified atmosphere packaging. If you require more information, do not hesitate to get in touch, as we would be happy to help.