Shelf life of packaged food products needs to be lengthened. This is a necessity when one wishes to have the food item stay in a usable and edible form for more time. Nowadays, there are different trades and tactics available in the market which do exactly this job function. Modified Atmosphere Packaging or MAP is the manner in which fresh food like meat, seafood, pasta, deserts, dairy products, readymade meals, fruits and veggies, food spreads and dips, dried fruits and nuts et al are packaged in such a way that they remain fresh for longer durations of time.
If one goes into the nitty-gritties of this process, the first thing that comes into mind is that fresh foods, in a way, keep ‘breathing’ even after they have been harvested. This takes up oxygen and releases carbon dioxide and water vapor into the air around. The real catch in trying to increase the shelf life of foods is to reduce this rate of so-called ‘respiration.’ Usually, this can be kept in check by lowering temperatures or reducing the oxygen and increase the carbon dioxide trapped inside the packaging. Another factor to be kept in mind is that if the oxygen in the packaging is lesser than a certain amount, anaerobic respiration begins to occur. This results in food getting spoilt due to certain tastes and odors which get produced. Then again, even higher than permissible amounts of carbon dioxide will result in food spoilage.
Actually speaking, there are two ways in which one can do this. The first process makes use of a vacuum gas system which removes the entire air inside the packing. After this, a gas mixture of a certain consistency is pumped into the packet. This gaseous composition ensures that the microbes in the food particles do not get much of a chance to grow or multiply. However, this method is not all that simple to put into effect. The second technique is one in which the food package is passed via a big-size chamber with gas. The packet is sealed up at the time it is still in this enclosure. This gas flush procedure makes use of a big quantity of gas. This is also not a very easy process to put into practice.
As a reality check, the most useful procedure for this process is to cause an equilibrium modified atmosphere or EMA to happen. Via this, oxygen and carbon dioxide can easily move from into and out of the package in a way that a desired proportion of the two is established. Also, this modified atmosphere cuts short the emission of ethylene gas, which is something which enhances the rate of ripening. Then again, browning of cut fresh veggies and fruits like potatoes and apples, too can be slowed down a great deal with modified atmosphere. In fact, properly doing this procedure can result in browning after several days, unlike most events when it starts to occur within a few minutes or at the most few hours after the veggie or fruit has been cut.