The Australian Institute of Packaging’s September meeting, held recently in Melbourne, focussed on Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP).
Brian Day, food tech client services manager at Food Science Australia and an acknowledged global expert in MAP technology led the discussion.
MAP is used to inhibit microorganism growth, inhibit oxidation and extend shelf life in a wide range of food products.
The growth of single individual lifestyles and time-poor consumers has been a driver in the need for fresh food that comes in a package.
Chilled products such as meat and some ready-to-serve meals are packaged using MAP techniques but the technology is also a major participant in the supply chain.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are despatched in shipping containers that have liners made of MAP material and refrigerated pantechnicons and export containers have MAP technology added to the refrigeration systems.
Day emphasised that the success of MAP is dependant on good cold-chain husbandry as once the package is opened, or even leaking slightly, all benefits are lost.
MAP, utilising a blend of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, can inhibit mould growth and the correct gas mixture maintains the red colour in meat, but inhibits microorganisms that cause spoilage.
MAP is often used in conjunction with oxygen scavenging and moisture absorbing technologies.
The critical message from Day was to seek advice from the gas suppliers and the packaging companies that specialise in MAP before utilising this packaging format.
Two experts in material supply and technology followed Day’s presentation and supported his opening comments: Gareth Reynolds, sales manager — Australia & New Zealand for Cryovac Food Solutions, and Tony Whelan, regional sales manager ULMA [Packaging] Australia.