Oxygen as the enemy: it seems like a big contradiction, but in the food industry it couldn’t be truer. Food producers have known for decades that exposing food to air, particularly the oxygen in the air, will reduce the shelf life of food products. The oxygen enables bacteria and bugs to grow, damaging the food. And if it’s not small insects, it is oxidation that forms a threat to the quality of food: it causes foods to go off, i.e. fats and oils becoming rancid.
100 year old food products: safe to eat
There are many extreme examples of food products preserved in tins or jars that have lasted for years while sealed. Boats have sunk with canned products on board. Over 100 years later, peaches, tomatoes and much more have been retrieved - and they seemed perfectly fine. Although they had lost their fresh smell, and appearance, scientists discovered no microbial growth that had affected the product: they were perfectly safe to eat.
Lower oxygen, longer shelf life
Sealing food in tin cans to protect them from oxygen is a good way to preserve products, but can not be applied to all products. Not only is it inefficient due to the small portions, it is also expensive. For food producers, bigger and more versatile options were needed.
Vacuum packaging has long been a popular way of keeping air out of the product. It also boosts shelf life but comes with its own disadvantages. The presentation is not great: it literally squashed products. In addition, it can create a breeding ground for certain bad bacteria. An alternative way of increasing shelf life that keeps the shape of products safe is by adding certain chemical additives. However, this can affect flavor and color and is becoming increasingly unpopular amongst consumers.
In came modified atmosphere. Halfway through the last century, this technique was in full development. It was discovered that not only lowering oxygen levels but also changing other components in the air had a positive effect on the quality and shelf life of many food products. Since then, it has adapted to different stages of the supply chain and has developed to the technique we know today.
With Masterpack’s efforts, it is now even possible to apply Modified Atmosphere to bulk packaging, further broadening the possibilities of the technique.
Want to know more?
We’re happy to explain how Modified Atmosphere can be the best choice for your product! Our team of experts is here at your disposal. Contact us to discover all the possibilities.