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Achieving fresh gains with modified atmosphere packaging

From the very moment that fruit is picked, corn is harvested, or fish is caught, the race against time begins.

From the very moment fruit is picked, corn is harvested, or fish is caught, the race against time begins.

Customers want fresh and their expectations are high, so how do BOC improve shelf life and maximise food safety? 

It’s a conundrum that many businesses grapple with, and with laser focus on the day-to-day and getting product out the door – there is little time to review food processes and technologies to see if they could do
things better. 

BOC has been working with the food industry in Australia for more than 80 years, bringing new technology and innovative gases to the market and evolving as the sector changes.  

Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is not a new process. It is widely adopted by businesses to expand production and improve product shelf life.

However, the increased need to reduce spoilage, simplify distribution logistics and tap into new markets – has required innovative, tailored approaches to how we get the most out of MAP.

BOC is constantly tailoring MAP solutions to suit the individual needs of each customer’s application and site.

Improving shelf life

MAP guarantees results in improved shelf-life without sacrificing quality.  

The need for longer shelf-life on everyday products is growing with cost-of-living pressures and increased competition across many food ranges. Consumers and businesses value products with longer shelf life and retained freshness.

Historically, food packaging methods relied on physically or chemically modifying food product to retain the longest shelf-life possible. These methods change the product and have shorter shelf life.

Spoilage affects millions of food products every year, and businesses suffer significant financial set-backs as a result. The most prominent causes of food degradation are linked to microbial and chemical/biochemical actions, affecting the food at a genetic level and rendering it largely unsafe
for consumption.

MAP leaves the product as unchanged as possible and preserved in a natural application. The original taste, texture and appearance of the food is retained at the highest possible food grade.

Picking the right gas mixture for MAP

MAP can be easily applied to many different food groups – from fresh salad mix to sliced cooked meats and even pre-prepared meals. Each food has different requirements for MAP depending on factors such as temperature, product and packaging.

When assessing your process, it is important to understand what exactly is trying to be achieved. MAP does not act as a band-aid for bad manufacturing processes. Rather, it helps extend product life in good manufacturing processes.

When it is clear what needs to be achieved, extending shelf life or changing packaging, you can determine what gas mixture to use. The right gas mixture for your product will depend on the type of food product, desired shelf life, the manufacturing process, and the target market. Your gas supplier will be able to assist in finding the right gas mixture for your specific application.

Gases used include nitrogen, carbon dioxide or oxygen mixtures, which will vary depending on the food’s core chemical properties. For example, nitrogen is most effective in excluding air which works to prevent the collapse of fat-containing or high-moisture foods such as nuts or potato crisps. This differs from oxygen, which is helpful in maintaining the fresh colour of red meat and the prevention of some bacteria in certain fish species.

Smart supply options 

Gas supply options depend on the volume of production and type of production, with options from pre-mixed cylinders to on site storage such as BOC’s CRYOSPEED vessels. If production volume is large or if the plant produces different products with different gas requirements, it may be more convenient and economical to switch over to mixing gases on-site. 

In this instance, a mixer is used and the gases are supplied from cylinders, vessels or PSA/membrane systems. A gas supplier such as BOC can provide training on any
equipment supplied. 

BOC has invested in a new intelligent gas mixer analyser compatible with cloud-based and industry 4.0 technologies. It provides real-time mixture results and traceability certificates, allowing up to six component mixtures with pre-programmed recipes. This gives greater visibility over the MAP process with real-time data logging and composition analysis.

Each application must be evaluated separately before decisions can be made regarding the supply options. For quality assurance, regularly checking the gas mixture in the ready packages after sealing is recommended.

Picking a partner with proven expertise 

With experience across the entire MAP process, BOC is committed to supporting the food industry with our expertise and technology to help improve outcomes and productivity to ensure the long-term success of Australian businesses

BOC encourage you to get in touch for an assessment of your current food packaging processes. For all enquires, please reach out to bulk.enquiries.au@boc.com.

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