In the food industry, maintaining product freshness and extending shelf life are a never ending pursuit for better processes. Specially designed packaging plays a vital role in preserving food quality and preventing spoilage. One technology that has of the past decades revolutionised food packaging and the longevity as well as food freshness is the use of nitrogen in altering the environment the food is kept in.
Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP): Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is a widely adopted technique in the food industry to enhance the shelf life of perishable products. It involves altering the composition of the atmosphere within the food package by replacing normal air with a controlled gas mixture. Nitrogen generators provide a reliable source of nitrogen gas for MAP applications. By flushing the package with nitrogen, oxygen is displaced, reducing the risk of oxidation, microbial growth, and degradation of food quality. This process significantly extends the shelf life of packaged foods.
Nitrogen is not the only gas in MAP but does make up the largest part. Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide are the other regularly used gases found in MAP applications both adding their own unique properties to improving the foods we eat
Increased Product Freshness: The use of MAP in food packaging helps maintain the freshness of perishable products. Nitrogen is an inert gas that does not react with food components, preventing the oxidation of fats, oils, and other sensitive ingredients. By reducing the presence of oxygen, which contributes to food spoilage, nitrogen generators create an oxygen-free environment, preserving the colour, texture, flavour, and nutritional value of the packaged food.
Improved Food Safety: Food safety is of utmost importance in the packaging industry. To enhancing food safety every producer aims to minimise the growth of harmful microorganisms. The low oxygen environment created by nitrogen flushing as well as the presence of Carbon Dioxide inhibits the proliferation of bacteria, yeast, and moulds, reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses. Additionally, the use of nitrogen and carbon Dioxide eliminates the need for preservatives or additives that may alter the taste or quality of the food product.
Packaging Integrity: When packaging food products, nitrogen gas is injected to create a slight positive pressure inside the package, reducing the risk of package collapse and ensuring a tight seal. This prevents the entry of air, moisture, and contaminants, safeguarding the product from spoilage, contamination, and damage during storage, transportation, and handling.
Waste Reduction: The extended shelf life achieved through MAP techniques reduces the likelihood of food products reaching their expiration dates before being consumed. This translates into a reduction in discarded food, minimising both economic losses and environmental impact.
Cost Efficiency: Nitrogen generators offer cost-efficient solutions for food packaging. They eliminate the need for relying on external suppliers of nitrogen gas, reducing recurring costs associated with gas deliveries and cylinder rentals. On-site nitrogen generation ensures a continuous and reliable supply, minimising production downtime and streamlining packaging operations. The cost savings achieved through nitrogen generators contribute to improved profitability for food packaging businesses.
Conclusion: MAP has become the industry standard for shelf life and quality in the foods we eat Nitrogen generators have become indispensable tool in that endeavour, helping to revolutionise the way perishable products are preserved and presented to consumers. By utilising modified atmosphere packaging, businesses can improve efficiency, enhance product freshness, ensure food safety, maintain packaging integrity, reduce waste, and achieve cost savings.