Discover the Advantages of Map for Food Packaging
When it comes to food packaging, MAP or Modified Atmosphere Packaging is a widely used technique of preservation. It is well known as a method to prevent spoilage and extend the shelf life of different food products.
Modified Atmosphere Packaging became especially important during the COVID-19 outbreak of 2020-2021. Consumers were instructed to leave their homes as infrequently as possible, so many began stocking up on food products with longer shelf lives. As a result, there was an enormous increase in demand for packaged food products that used MAP packaging technologies.
What exactly is MAP?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), modified atmosphere packaging “involves either actively or passively controlling or modifying the atmosphere surrounding the product within a package made of various types and/or combinations of films.”
There are two different kinds of modified atmosphere packaging: Passive and active. The FDA defines active modified atmosphere packaging as “the displacement of gases in the package, which is then replaced by a desired mixture of gases” and passive modified atmosphere packaging as “when the product is packaged using a selected film type, and the desired atmosphere develops naturally as a consequence of the products’ respiration and the diffusion of gases through the film.”
Gas flushing is one of the most popular active MAP technologies for food and beverage products. A gas flush accomplishes three things:
- Displaces the oxygen inside the package to delay oxidation
- Decreases the growth of aerobic spoilage organisms
- Acts as a filler to maintain package conformity
During a gas flush process, a harmless gas (usually nitrogen or carbon dioxide or both) is actively pumped into the bag before sealing to displace ambient oxygen. This is done to decrease the amount of oxygen as oxygen is one of the top killers of freshness.
The role of nitrogen and carbon dioxide
Nitrogen is an inert gas and is often used to displace oxygen for products which are prone to oxidation.It is also used as a filler gas to prevent pack collapse. Many snack products such as potato wafers rely on nitrogen flushing to provide longer shelf life, slow rancidity and maintain the quality of the snack.
Carbondioxide is usually included as an anti-microbial agent. A minimum of 20% carbon dioxide is used with nitrogen to forman anaerobic environment to inhibit aerobic microorganisms.Raw and cooked meats, fish, ready meals, combination products and bakery goods will all commonly be packed with a proportion of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is more commonly used at levels between 25-40% apart from in bakery goods and some cheeses where it can be used up to 100%to increase the mould-free shelf-life.
How does modified atmosphere packaging protect food?
Largely, modified atmosphere packaging technologies protect fresh food by decreasing its exposure to oxygen. Oxygen leads to oxidation, which can cause discoloration, spoilage, and off-flavours and textures. By decreasing or controlling the amount of oxygen present in a package, the food product remains fresher longer, extending its shelf life and ensuring it remains attractive to consumers.
Nichrome’s MAP solution
Nichrome offers Athena: Thermoforming Tray Sealing machine from Tecnovac, Italy. Athena is able to seal, pack in a protective atmosphere (vacuum + gas) or with “Skin effect” all types of trays or jars. Due to its strong stainless steel structure and easy maintenance, Athena is ideal for use in small and medium sized companies.
For marketers of cut fruits & vegetables, meat & fish, namkeen & sweets and even ready-to-eat meals like biryani, this horizontal packaging machine ensures the products stay safe and hygienic till they reach the consumer’s table.
The modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) machine extracts oxygen&carbon dioxide from the air of the trays, synchronously filling them with nitrogen or mixed air, to ensure that food does not deteriorate. Then the tray is well sealed.
With the increase in ‘snackification’ and growing demand for packaged foods with long shelf life, it makes sense for manufacturers and packagers to invest in reliable MAP technology for their packaging line. With MAP, food producers can maximise convenience to consumers and still offer the fresh, preservative-free food products they desire. We suggest you contact Nichrome, the leading packaging machine manufacturer and provider of integrated packaging solutions. Nichrome has proven experience and expertise in food packaging and offers a full gamut of VFFS and HFFS automated packaging machines – whether or powder packaging machines, snack packaging machines, liquid packaging machines, ready-to-eat packaging machines. Nichrome will work with you to plan and implement the most cost-effective and dependable MAP solution for your needs.