Quality Control Imperatives in Map Process
The hygiene and safety considerations while packaging of ready-to-eat foods is of paramount importance. Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)is a means of ensuring that the safety and hygiene of the ready to eat food is preserved during transit and distribution.
The importance of maintaining food safety throughout the supply chain, including during packaging and distribution is evident. Packaging ready to eat foods helps extend their shelf life and protects them from contamination, vermin attacks, pilferage, rancidity, and many other forms of spoilage and taste loss.
Packaging of ready to eat foods also paves the way for protection of the packaged food during transportation. It is an excellent means of communicating to the customer of the goodness of the packaged ready to eat food inside by printing the product information on the outer cover. MAP also provides consumers with valuable information, such as nutritional information, origin, and safe handling instructions.
The role of MAP in reducing the risk of food borne illness and extending the shelf life of ready-to-eat foods is well known across the world. The need to follow food safety regulations and guidelines when using MAP, including labelling requirements and the use of approved packaging materials is an imperative.
The potential for MAP technology to impact the sensory qualities of ready-to-eat foods, including taste, texture, and appearance, is bespoke. There is a dire need to carefully control the packaging process to preserve these qualities of the packaged food. With MAP technology there is also a reduced need for adding preservatives to the ready to eat food.
Leak testing prevents needless returns, loss of prestige, legal consequences and worst case, loss of business. To optimise quality assurance, the user can choose between solutions for sample or in-line testing – based on CO2 or a water bubble test.
Package leak detection systems reliably detect even the smallest leak and are easy to operate. Furthermore, all tests can be digitally logged and documented for customers.
Right from the point of mixing the gases and introducing them into the package, maximum care is required. A faulty mixture or a leaking packet can have serious effects. It can cause loss of nutrients, taste, colour or structure to a bad smell or infestation with micro-organisms. Health risks to the consumer can be eliminated by testing the MAP product.MAP therefore requires modern high-quality equipment and uncompromising standards of hygiene.
So comprehensive quality assurance activities are essential. These can begin during the packaging process, using inline gas analysis, which constantly monitors the composition of the modified atmosphere.
After packaging, the packages must be tested for the correct gas mixture and for leaks. Only with this level of rigour can it be ensured that the full benefit of MAP is achieved, and that the customer receives a top-quality product.
The importance of maintaining the cleanliness
and sanitation of
modified atmosphere packaging equipment to prevent contamination of the packaged food cannot be undermined. The potential for MAP packaging to cause food waste if not properly handled and stored, and the need to consider this in the packaging process should not be neglected.
Gas monitoring systems for ambient air protect employees and make the use of gases such as carbon dioxide safer. This is not toxic but accumulates unnoticed in closed rooms and replaces the oxygen in the air. A concentration of 0.3 percent carbon dioxide in ambient air can be a health hazard. The allowed maximum concentration in the workplace is 0.5 percent.
At five percent, headaches and dizziness may occur; eight percent and more leads to unconsciousness or even death. The gas level warning unit permanently monitors the concentration of the respective gas in the ambient air and activates an acoustic and visual alarm when individually definable limits are exceeded. For food and vegetables, controlled atmospheres are not just used in packaging but also for the control of ripening control, in special ripening chambers with the help of ethylene.
The role of consumer education in promoting the safe handling and storage of MAP ready-to-eat foods is a must. The consumer needs to be informed of the ingredients that the ready to eat food contains, nutrition facts, expiry date, to make a buying decision. All this information must be printed on the label. The label should also carry information on the possibility of causing allergies by eating the packaged product.
Nichrome MAP Solutions
If you are looking for a thali packing machine, tray sealing machine, container sealing machine, nitrogen packing machine, or a food tray sealing machine with MAP technology – a.k.a controlled atmosphere packaging – for your fresh food Nichrome is the ideal choice. Nichrome India is the final word in packaging machines, automatic filling machine manufacturers, filling and sealing machine manufacturers and providers of integrated packaging solutions.