Modified Atmosphere Packaging for the Meat Industry

Posted on 8 september 2022

In short: Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is a process where air is removed from the packaging and replaced with a gas mix. This gas mix can be tailored to prolong the shelf-life of meat products, decrease or inhibit microbial spoilage, whilst retaining quality attributes such as color, smell, and taste. The main benefits of using MAP are having more control over your products, in a sustainable way.

There are countless ways to store meat. Depending on the type, you can see it hanging high and dry in the window of your local butcher, it's frozen, packed in paper or vacuum sealed in plastic.

It just goes to show how challenging packaging meat is: it all responds differently, and maintaining taste and freshness works differently for every different type of meat.

So before it even reaches the end consumer, various packaging techniques are used. Modified Atmosphere Packaging is winning ground here, because of all the benefits it has to offer.

In this article, we'll explain how Modified Atmosphere Packaging benefits meat and how it differs from other popular packaging techniques.

A new way to treat meat

We can all agree that the meat industry is one that needs to double down on sustainability, stat. But just starting at the source (the farms) and the end user (consumers) isn't enough: we can and need to tackle the challenges in other parts of the supply chain as well.

Modified atmosphere packaging is a way to control the way meat is stored. It makes sure that the meat lasts longer and doesn't go bad as quickly. This is better for the environment because it means that less meat needs to be thrown away. Moreover, fewer chemicals are used in preserving its freshness, which is better for consumers, too.

How MAP is different from vacuum packaging for meat

A more common and traditional way of packaging meat and preserving its freshness is using vacuum packaging.

The difference between MAP and VAP lies in what happens after a vacuum is created. With VAP, the vacuum is sealed, and that's that. With MAP, however, gasses are added after the vacuum is created. This will create a specific mix of ultra-low oxygen levels, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, tailored to what is best for the product.

While both have the same goal, Modified Atmosphere Packaging is proving to be the more favorable option because it also leaves the shape of the product intact—whereas vacuum packaging can alter it.

Read more about the difference between MAP, VAP and CAS in this article

How MAP preserves taste, flavor and smell in meat

It's often said that Modified Atmosphere Packaging is great at preserving taste, flavor and smell in meat, but how does it work?

With MAP, an environment is created which provides an effective inbuilt water vapor barrier, preventing loss of flavor, taste and smell by evaporation.

Moreover, the combination of different levels of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen protect the meat in a microbial and sensorial standpoint. With the right mixture of gasses, the appearance of the meat is maintained.


Want to know more about the possibility of MAP for your product?

Reach out to our team of experts to get tailored advice and more!


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

Subscribe here