Keeping packaged food items fresh for an extended period of time can take time and effort. However, keeping packaged food items fresh for an extended period while also reducing the amount of processing that goes into it can cause frustration and a headache while you’re at it. That’s where modified atmosphere packaging, also known as MAP, comes into play.
What is MAP and what do I need to get started?
Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is the process of modifying the internal composition of a package’s atmosphere, therefore removing the oxygen that was once inside. As previously mentioned, the sole purpose of MAP is to extend the shelf life of a product, without adding extra preservatives or processing. MAP is a very unique and beneficial process, but requires quite a few important materials and dynamics such as an oxygen analyzer, chamber sealer, shrink film, and in some cases, desiccant packets and package valves. Let’s take a closer look!
The oxygen analyzer is a handheld device that is used to test the oxygen content within a package. Since oxygen must be partially or fully removed from the package, this piece of equipment is crucial to the process and overall quality of the final product. If the oxygen levels fail to meet the correct levels, appropriate adjustments must be made to the element, or elements, of the MAP packaging, materials or machinery.
A chamber sealer uses vacuum technology to remove all of the air inside of a package (the oxygen) and displace it with nitrogen. Nitrogen flushing lowers the contents of the oxygen within a package, creating an airtight container that decreases the rate at which the foods may spoil. Once this part of the process is finished, the package is then sealed with the nitrogen trapped inside, effectively removing the oxygen.
Shrink films are another important element in the MAP process and are used as gas barriers. The shrink films, such as polyolefin, polyethylene and polyvinyl-chloride are low permeability resulting in great reductions in oxygen and moisture.
Desiccant packets are the little packets that you sometimes find at the bottom of your packaged food. While most of us hold these up and question why they are even there, they actually have an important job in keeping the food fresh and ready to consume. These small packets contain ingredients that absorb moisture from foods and should not be ingested.
Package valves can be added to an item allowing gases and smells to escape without oxygen entering the package. This form of packaging can typically be found on the coffee that is put in stand up packages.
Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is a recommended packaging process for a multitude of reasons, the big one being a safe, but effective way to keep your food and perishable items fresher, and longer. At nexAir, we want our customers to Forge Forward in all that they do. We believe that this can be achieved by sharing our industry-learned KnowHow and experience, assisting our customers when they need it and providing them with quality tools, equipment and service. If you have any questions or concerns regarding MAP or the gas supply, please reach out – we would love to chat.
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