MAP means, in practice, replacing the natural ambient air in the package or packaging with a mixture of gases, often nitrogen and carbon dioxide. Fresh products packaged in modified atmosphere have a much longer life and can be transported, even over long distances, while maintaining their quality. Examples of products for which MAP packaging is required are meat and sausage products, dairy products, bread, fruit and vegetables, fish or convenience products.
The standards required for MAP packaging are relatively high and must be controlled and monitored to ensure safety. Therefore, food manufacturers rely on modern MAP gas technology and different levels of quality assurance for maximum process safety.
Why packaging with MAP technology
- Extension of shelf-life and high quality packaging. Foods packaged in a protective atmosphere deteriorate much more slowly, i.e. have a much longer shelf-life, thus reaching the consumer in the best possible conditions.
- Respect for the environment. Longer shelf life and integrity of the package means fewer problems during long-distance shipping and this results in less or no waste caused by bad food.
- More sales opportunities. MAP packs can be transported over long distances without altering the content, allowing manufacturers to cover a very wide geographical and even global target.
- Less preservatives, healthier foods. MAP packaging extends the shelf life of food, in many cases reducing or eliminating the use of preservatives. End consumers will be able to buy and appreciate products that do not contain artificial additives.
- Modified atmosphere packaging allows a much greater customization of the packaging. And whoever is in charge of marketing knows it: eye-catching and different from the others, maybe side by side, are a decisive “call to purchase”.
→ THERMOFORMING FARMO RES MACHINES CAN BE EQUIPPED WITH MAP
All FarmoRes thermoforming machines can be equipped with a MAP system applied to the lidding foil sealing stations. The MAP system consists, as you have already learned, by flushing inert gases (we usually use nitrogen) into the container before welding, in order to reduce the percentage of oxygen. Farmo Res obtains reductions with values lower than 2%. The MAP system includes an in-line check of oxygen concentration inside the sealing station carried out by a certified and adjustable gas analyser. The oxygen level is displayed on the HMI of the analyser. Oxygen levels are checked at every machine cycle (complete production check), without damages for the packs; not-conformed packs are automatically discarded.
Modified atmosphere packaging requires very high quality standards, both for the integrity of the packaged products and to protect the health of consumers. Errors in packaging or sealing can lead to leaks, usually micro leaks. From the point of mixing the gases and introducing them into the package, the utmost care is required. A faulty mixture or leaking packaging can have serious effects – from loss of nutrients, taste, color to bad odor or infestation of microorganisms. Depending on the product, there may be health risks for the consumer. Modified atmosphere packaging therefore requires modern equipment of high quality and absolute hygiene standards. From the very beginning of packaging, it is necessary to use in-line gas analysis, which constantly monitors the composition of the modified atmosphere. After packaging, the packages must be tested for the correct gas mixture and leakage. Only with this level of rigor, which we at Farmo Res apply in the construction of all our machines, is it possible to guarantee the full advantage of modified atmosphere packaging and that the customer receives a high quality product.
Typical Modified Atmosphere Packaging Gases
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) and Nitrogen (N2) are the gases mainly used in food packaging. Carbon monoxide (CO) or Argon (Ar) are only used in some countries. Oxygen (O2) is used in some cases. Carbon dioxide (CO2), colorless, odorless and tasteless, has an oxidation-inhibiting and growth-inhibiting effect on most bacteria and aerobic mold. The gas is often used to increase the shelf life of food.
- Another widely used gas is Nitrogen (N2), an inert gas with a relatively high purity. It is usually used to move air, especially atmospheric oxygen, in food packaging. This prevents the oxidation of food and inhibits the growth of aerobic microorganisms. It is often used as a carrier or filler gas, as it spreads very slowly through plastic films and therefore remains in the packaging for longer.
- Carbon monoxide (CO) or Argon (Ar) are used in some countries. Oxygen (O2) is used in rare cases as it can more easily cause deterioration of food due to oxidation and forms the ideal conditions for the growth of aerobic microorganisms.
- Hydrogen (H2) and Helium (He) are used in modified atmospheres only in some applications but are not suitable to extend their commercial life. They are also very expensive.
Farmo Res recommend…
If the food is packaged in a protective atmosphere, this must be indicated on the label. In addition, according to EU Regulation 95/2 / EC, the gases used must be listed with the corresponding E number. We indicate the most used and important ones:
- Argon E 938
- Helium E 939
- Carbon Dioxide E 290
- Oxygen E 948
- NitrogenE 941
- HydrogenE 949
Foods that can be packaged with MAP technology MAP
- Meat products, especially raw meat, and cold cuts
- Fish and seafood
- Dairy products
- Bakery products
- Fruit and vegetables
- Pasta and ready meals
- Snacks and dried fruit
Do you need a thermoforming packaging machine with integrated MAP system?
For any need of packaging or processing directly related, you can contact us, without obligation, and discuss with experienced staff. Farmo Res has been operating on the packaging market since 1964.
0544-981900 | firstname.lastname@example.org