How Modified Atmosphere packaging prevents food product discoloration

Posted on 20 January 2023

There are only a few situations in which people like to experiment with food products in different colors. Most of the time, we trust our senses and the colors we know. With natural food products, this can be risky for producers: we can’t completely control nature, and products will eventually change color.

In this article we’ll look at the factors that cause food products to change color and how Modified Atmosphere Packaging can prevent or slow down this process. We’ll also talk about why you’d want to prevent discoloration. Let’s get started!

What causes food to change color over time?

Food can change color over time for a variety of reasons, including oxidation, enzymatic reactions, microbial growth, and exposure to light.

Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when oxygen in the air comes into contact with certain molecules in food, causing them to break down and change color. This is particularly common in fruits and vegetables that turn brown when cut or exposed to air.

Enzymatic reactions are chemical reactions that occur when enzymes in food react with other molecules in the food, causing a color change. For example, the enzymes in fruits and vegetables can cause them to ripen, which can cause a change in color.

Microbial growth can also cause food to change color. Microorganisms such as bacteria, yeasts and molds can grow on food and change its color, texture, and flavor.

Exposure to light can also cause food to change color. Certain food products like fruits and vegetables can be sensitive to light and may turn brown or discolor when exposed to light for an extended period of time.

All of these factors can be minimized by modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) which can slow down the process and preserve food for longer time.

How does modified atmosphere packaging prevent food from changing color?

Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) involves altering the composition of the air inside a package to extend the shelf life of food. One way it can prevent food from changing color is by controlling the amount of oxygen in the package. 

Oxygen can cause certain foods, like fruits and vegetables, to ripen and change color. By reducing the amount of oxygen in the package, the rate of oxidation and color change is slowed. 

Additionally, MAP can also control the amount of carbon dioxide, which can prevent the growth of microorganisms that can cause discoloration.

Why do we want to prevent food from changing color?

Preventing food from changing color is important because color is one of the key factors that consumers use to assess the quality and freshness of food. 

A change in color can indicate that the food is spoiled or no longer fresh, even if the food is still safe to eat. This can cause consumers to reject the food and result in wasted food and financial losses for producers and retailers.

Also, color change can also be an indication of the food losing its nutritional value and taste. In fruits and vegetables, color change can indicate that the produce has started to ripen and lose its firmness, which can affect the taste and texture of the food.

By preventing food from changing color, it can help extend the shelf life of the food, reduce food waste, and increase consumer confidence in the food.

Want to extend the shelf life of your products?

Our team can tell you exactly what your specific products need. Read our whitepapers to learn more about the process or contact us directly for more information tailored to your situation.


Want to work towards sustainable supply chain management?

At Masterpack, we are continuously working towards better ways to pack and protect products. We proudly present our newest solution: Modified Atmosphere for FIBC’s. Download our latest whitepapers:

Testing and improving your packaging (1,6MB)
Modified Atmosphere in FIBC's (6,4MB)
Pest prevention and control in bulk packaging (2,8MB)
The Modified Atmosphere Packaging Process Whitepaper

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