What is Modified Atmosphere Packaging?

First Published: May 29, 2023
Channel: Technology

We all want the food we buy to arrive in the best possible condition and to have a reasonable shelf life, if we don’t plan on consuming it right away. MAP is one of the tools that food processors have to help out with this.

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is a food packaging technique that alters the gas composition surrounding the food inside the package. This extends the food’s shelf life and improves its quality.

MAP is used for various foods, including meat, poultry, fish, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. It can also be used for some non-food items, such as flowers and medical supplies.

How does MAP work?

MAP works by creating an atmosphere that is favorable for the food and unfavorable for microorganisms. This is done by using a variety of gases, including oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and carbon dioxide (that one was a surprise to me as well). The specific gases used will vary depending on the packaged food type.

For example, meat is typically packaged with a high concentration of carbon dioxide and a low oxygen concentration. This is because carbon dioxide inhibits the growth of aerobic bacteria, which are the main cause of spoilage in meat.

Modified atmosphere packaging is a valuable tool for food preservation. It can help extend food’s shelf life, improve its quality, and reduce food waste. However, MAP has drawbacks, such as the cost and specialized equipment required.

If you are considering using MAP, it is important to weigh the benefits and drawbacks carefully. If you are looking for a way to extend the shelf life of your food and improve its quality, MAP may be a good option for you.

In the MAP process, the oxygen is removed from the package, and the replacement gas is added, during the packaging process – using specialized equipment.

Benefits of MAP

MAP offers several benefits, including:

  • Extended shelf life: MAP can extend the shelf life of food by up to 50%. This is because MAP helps to prevent the growth of microorganisms, which can cause food spoilage.
  • Improved quality: MAP can help improve food quality by preventing the loss of moisture, nutrients, and flavor.
  • Reduced waste: MAP can help to reduce food waste by extending the shelf life of food.
  • Increased convenience: MAP can make food more convenient to use by keeping it fresh and flavorful for longer.

Drawbacks of MAP

MAP also has a few drawbacks, including:

  • Cost: MAP can be more expensive than traditional packaging methods.
  • Equipment: MAP requires specialized equipment, which can be costly to purchase and maintain.
  • Training: MAP requires specialized training, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

Additional Thoughts

  • The type of food: Not all foods are suitable for MAP. Some foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, are sensitive to the gases used in MAP and may not benefit from the process.
  • The storage conditions: MAP is most effective when food is stored at a cold temperature. If food is stored at room temperature, the benefits of MAP may be reduced.
  • The freshness of the food: MAP is most effective when food is fresh. If food is not fresh, the benefits of MAP may be reduced.

If you are considering using MAP, it is important to talk to your food supplier or a packaging expert, such as your packaging equipment OEM, to get more information about the process and how it can be used to preserve your food.

Further Reading:

National Library of Medicine: Carbon Monoxide in Meat and Fish Packaging: Advantages and Limits

Science Direct: Modified Atmosphere Packaging

Packaging News.Net: Why Does Meat in Supermarket Packaging Always Appear So Red?

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