What is the importance of packaging gases in the food industry?

Modified (protective) atmosphere packaging replaces the air inside the package with a specific gas or mixture of gases to protect food and slow down its spoilage .

Impairment occurs as a result of one or more of the following:

  • Microorganisms: Microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts and molds can grow in food and spoil it. Modified atmosphere packaging helps slow the growth of these microorganisms by reducing or replacing the oxygen microorganisms need to survive.
  • Enzymes: Enzymes are naturally occurring substances that cause crops to ripen. See also our articles on different crops .
  • Oxidation: Oxidation occurs when consumables come into direct contact with air; oxygen in the air can cause rancidity and rancidity as fats oxidize. Oxidation can also cause food coloring.
  • Light exposure: Gases alone do not necessarily help protect against light, but packaging used in combination with gases can help reduce light exposure if beneficial.
  • Insects, rodents, parasites, etc.: Gases combined with packaging can create a barrier that prevents food odors that attract pests.
  • Physical damage: An example of protective atmosphere packaging that is used to prevent physical damage is the nitrogen found in potato chip bags. It has many different uses, but also works as a protective cushion against heavy bags and boxes during transport.
  • Temperature: Higher temperatures accelerate food spoilage. Going back to the bag of chips, the nitrogen in the bag also works well with the multi-layer construction of the bag for temperature control. The inner foil lining acts first as an oxygen shield and also as a thermal barrier.
  • Time: Time is the enemy. Many of the items on this list, such as microorganisms, enzymes, and oxidation, take time to grow and develop. Modified atmosphere packaging combats this enemy by inhibiting the growth of enzymes and microorganisms, giving the food much-needed time.

Advantages of packing gases

  • Longer shelf life compared to other conventional storage methods.
  • Improving the visual appeal of packaged products.
  • Preservation of food nutrients .
  • Long-term preservation of food freshness .
  • Elimination of chemical additives/preservatives.
  • Preserving the original flavors of food.

Disadvantages of packing gases

  • One of the main disadvantages is the price – there are cheaper ways to package food.
  • Smaller consumer base .
  • Complicated to pack.
  • A higher level of quality assurance is required .

Is modified atmosphere packaging safe?

Packaging food in a protective atmosphere is not completely without risk. There are a number of potential problems with pathogen contamination, including but not limited to L. monocytogenes, Y. enterocolitica, and A. hydrophila.

However, while these risks exist, actual cases are very few.