Modified atmosphere packaging, or MAP, is a packaging system designed to extend the shelf life of food products, particularly fresh produce. As its name implies, it changes and controls the natural makeup of the atmosphere inside the packaging to eliminate contamination and reduce spoilage.
When a lot of oxygen is present inside the packaging, the fresh product becomes prone to microbial growth and oxidation. MAP reduces the amount of oxygen and creates an optimal mixture of gases inside to create an environment that protects the packaged food from deterioration.
This type of packaging is crucial for keeping products on supermarket shelves fresh for a relatively long period. Without this packaging technology, food products can easily lose their flavor, texture, and color. They can also spoil more quickly and become unsafe for consumption.
MAP also makes it possible for food manufacturers to distribute their products to distant markets and keep their quality intact from the time they leave the farm or plant to when they reach warehouses, supermarkets, and end users.
Common Food Products That Use MAP
There is a wide range of products that require this packaging method. Combined with refrigeration, food items can have a longer shelf life.
These include raw meat, minimally processed meat, and ready-to cook-meat. MAP minimizes the growth of microorganisms and the oxidation of meat compounds like proteins and lipids. MAP uses a mix of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and carbon monoxide to improve storage time and preserve products’ colors.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
To inhibit spoilage, food manufacturers pack fresh fruits and vegetables using a MAP technology called nitrogen gas flush. The nitrogen gas is used to flush oxygen out of the packaging and improve shelf life.
MAP is also highly used in preserving the quality of raw and semi-processed seafood like fish, crab meat, squid, lobsters, prawns, and shell products. The most common gases used for MAP in seafood are carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and oxygen with the CO2 having the highest concentration.
MAP also benefits snack products by preserving their quality and extending their best-before dates without using too many preservatives. This is usually combined with barrier packagings like pouches, foil packs, and boxes that protect snack items from moisture, light, oxygen, and external aromas.
Cooked and Dressed Vegetables
Aside from these products, MAP is also used in preserving the quality of cooked food such as cooked vegetables and fruits. It can be used to preserve cooked beans, mushrooms, beetroot, asparagus, and potatoes as well as fresh and dressed pasta and salads.
Dried fruits, herbs, mushrooms, lentils, and salted seafood are also preserved using MAP. It’s also useful for dried coffee powder, milk powder, cocoa powder, and food coloring powder.
Some baked products like cheesecakes, bread, bread puddings, bagels, fruit cakes, and tarts are also packed using MAP to keep moisture and mold at bay.
Dairy Food Items
Moisture and oxygen-sensitive dairy items like cheese, yogurts, aerosol creams, regular creams, and butter also keep their flavor, aroma, and texture longer when packed using MAP.
Aside from food items, MAP is also used in legal cannabis packaging. In addition, carbon dioxide flushing combined with vacuum packaging is used to control tobacco beetles from growing in stored tobacco products.
Forge Forward With nexAir: Preserving Your Company’s Growth Capabilities
Aside from providing you with safe, premium-grade gases for your MAP needs, nexAir also provides training on current packaging technologies and optimum gas mixtures for various food and non-food products.
Our nexAir KnowHow, delivered and shared by our team of experts, is available to you. We do not simply supply, we also help you optimize and maximize your production and distribution with the right techniques using our products and services.
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