Food Packaging: Facts About Modified Atmosphere Packaging

In ancient times, preserving food was highly difficult, but as the years progressed, food packaging has evolved, keeping foods fresh and safe for days, weeks and even months. We create many different types of food packaging here at Indepak, and one option to consider would be modified atmosphere packaging.

Modified atmosphere packaging, or MAP, is an excellent option for fresh foods. This includes items such as fresh meat and processed meat (lunch meat, hot dogs, bacon, etc.), cheeses, fresh pastas, seafood, microwavable meals (AKA – TV dinners), fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and more.

How It Works
Creating this type of food packaging is a sophisticated process that involves matching the specific food item to a particular gas or a combination of gases. These gases work to preserve the food and provide manufacturers and consumers with longer shelf lives. The gas mixture depends entirely on the type of food that is being packaged. For instance, the gases used to preserve fruits and vegetables differ from those used to preserve a steak or hamburger.

It might surprise you to learn that this is not a new process at all. We have been using gases to ripen fruit and adding gases, such as carbon monoxide to large food storage containers, since the early 1930s. This allowed foods to be shipped great distances without spoilage. Today, the MAP production process is much more sophisticated, and we use other gases than just CO2, such as oxygen and nitrogen.

MAP Vs. Air-Packed
Freshness can be doubled and in some cases tripled with the use of MAP for your food packaging. For instance, raw fish might last only two or three days when air-packed, but with MAP, this shelf life can extend to more than one week. For items such as hard cheeses, you can extend the shelf life from about three weeks with an air-packed wrap to as long as perhaps nine or 10 weeks with MAP. Delicate items such as salad greens can increase their shelf life from a mere four of five days up to as much as 10 days or longer with MAP.

Your MAP Options
When we design food packaging, we pay attention to a wide variety of factors. It all begins by selecting materials suitable for food contact, and then we look at factors such as sealing reliability, oxygen permeability and puncture resistance to name a few. Our thermoforming equipment can process a myriad of materials, including those typically used for MAP.

At Indepak, we can create any size or shape of custom thermoform tray suitable for modified atmosphere packaging. In some cases, a simple tray with one cavity is all that is needed, but other products, such as microwavable meals or perhaps fruit and vegetable trays might need multiple compartments to separate each food item.

If you are interested in any type of food packaging, including modified atmosphere packaging, contact us at Indepak today. Since 1967, we’ve been a leader in the creation of packaging for the specialty foods industry and we can design an innovative packaging solution that meets your needs and budget.

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