What Is Modified Atmosphere Packaging?
Modified Atmosphere Packaging (or MAP) is the method of packaging that manipulates the atmosphere inside packaging carrying perishable goods such as beef, pork, chicken, and fish. The process’s purpose is to extend the product’s shelf life housed within.
MAP improves the shelf life and freshness of many foods. These foods are often packed with oxygen, which is removed using MAP.
How Does Modified Atmosphere Packaging Work?
Lipid oxidation reactions are caused by oxygen. It also induces high rates of respiration in fruits and vegetables. Increased respiration rates are to blame for shortened shelf life. The presence of oxygen encourages the growth of aerobic spoilage. Other undesirable bacteria may form as well.
We can decrease or postpone undesired reactions by lowering the quantity of oxygen and substituting it with other gases. The oxygen present within a package must be reduced or removed to modify its atmosphere.
The MAP technique reduces the volume of oxygen present within the empty area of the product-containing package. It can also keep water vapour from forming. Other gases are frequently used to replace the oxygen inside the packaging.
Active measures can be used to stabilise the controlled atmosphere storage of the gases contained within the package, such as gas flushing, compensated vacuuming, and oxygen absorbers. This can also be accomplished by using “breathable” shrink wraps or packaging films.
What are some types of modified atmosphere packaging?
Gas flushing of packages is one of the most frequent active modified environment packaging solutions for food and beverage goods. A gas flush does three things: Oxygen displacement to postpone oxidation, reduced growth of aerobic spoilage organisms, and maintaining packaging conformity by acting as a filler.
A harmless gas (typically nitrogen) is deliberately pushed into the bag before closure to displace ambient oxygen during the gas wash operation. This is done to reduce the quantity of oxygen within the packaging, which reduces the rate of spoiling since oxygen is one of the leading destroyers of freshness. Nitrogen gas flushing is a MAP option that many businesses include in their packing line.
Films for barrier packing
Passive modified atmosphere packaging is an example of selecting particular packaging materials that give more excellent protection. This is done by utilising barrier packaging materials with limited permeability to moisture and oxygen, such as low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polyvinylchloride (PVC), or polypropylene (PP).
Smart packaging films, inclusive of indicators of temperature, leakage, food quality, and other information, are now available on the market.
Desiccant or scavenger packs
These compact sachet-type products frequently contain iron powder, ascorbic acid blend, and activated carbon. These components function as catalysts or activators, collecting ambient moisture and oxygen and eliminating it from the inside of the perishable goods package.
Another example of MAP is the addition of one-way valves on the exterior of the packaging. Most commonly used in the coffee business, these valves may be put on ready-made bags or roll stock film during the packaging process.
One-way valves allow specific gases to exit the package while preventing outside gases from entering. This is frequently done to relieve pressure caused by off-gassing when products emit gases or other chemicals.One-way valves can also enable air to escape packages, allowing more efficient stacking and palletization.
Benefits of modified atmosphere packaging
Shelf life increased from 50% to 400%
Modified atmosphere packaging enables natural and unprocessed foods to be packaged to enhance the product’s shelf life. This improves the product’s look and texture and the preservation of its nutrients.
Reduces use of preservatives
Food created without preservatives or GMOs is one of the most recent food trends. People want to know that the ingredients in their meals are natural and not synthetic.One advantage of modified atmosphere packaging is that it does not require preservatives to ensure freshness. MAP reduces degradation while maintaining quality.
As the gas flushing removes the undesired oxygen from the container, preservatives are not required to retain flavour and texture and prevent spoilage. This is appealing to customers and producers because it streamlines the food packing process.
As it expands market reach, MAP is a cost-effective method of packaging food. Businesses may move products further away from the origin facility since they can stay fresher for longer. This broadens the product’s distribution. Furthermore, items have a longer shelf-life, which minimises the frequency of delivery and lowers costs.
The prolonged freshness cycle decreases the need for regular product rotation and replenishment, saving labour costs. Furthermore, because the product does not decay as rapidly, there are fewer product returns for expired, damaged, or discoloured items. Overall, MAP lowers waste from the outset of manufacturing.
Disadvantages of modified atmosphere packaging
Loss of benefits once the pack is opened or leaks
If the MAP package’s hermetic seal fails due to a leak or bad package design, oxygen and moisture can enter and destroy the product. The product might still deteriorate if the MAP gas concentration is unsuitable for the given product. As a result, regularly checking for MAP product leakage is critical to ensuring that MAP products reach end-users as intended.
Temperature control necessary
While MAP packaging can help extend the life of a product, it does not remove all bacteria. As a result, other means of preservation must still be applied. Bacteria continue to multiply, particularly in higher temperatures. As a result, it is suggested that items be refrigerated even after being packaged using MAP techniques.
Is it safe to use modified atmosphere packaging?
When it comes to food safety, MAP should not be considered a fail-safe. While MAP extends shelf life and can prevent some forms of spoiling, it is not guaranteed.
Some MAP-containing meals may pose an additional risk. As a result of MAP, pathogenic organisms may form. L. monocytogenes, Y. enterocolitica, and A. hydrophila are among the pathogens that pose a risk of contamination. MAP packed vegetables are especially vulnerable.
While these dangers exist, actual examples are few and far between. They have been very uncommon since the introduction of modified atmosphere packaging.
In conclusion, modified atmosphere packaging, or MAP, enables the food industry to maintain product quality, freshness, and shelf life. With the right technology, the atmosphere inside the product packaging is protected, and this increase in product quality is beneficial to businesses.