Modified Atmosphere Packaging Applications

Cold meat packed in MAP
Food is different - so is the gas composition used to pack different food products. Red meat needs high oxygen to maintain the red colour, bread requires low oxygen to avoid mould and vegetables often need a three-gas mixture.

Our recommendation is always to consult the gas supplier to find the most suitable gas mixture and to perform shelf life studies before launching the product.

Download a table of gas mixtures here.

Contact us for more information about MAP

What is Modified Atmosphere Packaging, MAP?
(Continued from front page)

Everyone knows that food does not stay fresh forever. Milk turns sour, bread goes mouldy, meat develops a brown colour and an ‘off’ smell. A number of factors cause food spoilage. Oxygen in the air can cause a process of decay called oxidation. For example fats and oils in food can oxidise to make the food turn rancid. One of the main causes of the spoilage of food is the growth of microbes such as bacteria, yeasts and mould that are present all around us, even in and on our own bodies. These microbes feed and grow on the food product, causing it to go bad. The appearance of food can also change over time when exposed to air. Fresh meat turns brown after a while because of interactions between oxygen and pigments in the tissue.

There are a number of ways to slow down these processes of spoilage and to keep food attractive and edible for as long as possible. These include simple refrigeration – the lower the temperature the slower most microbes will grow – or treatments such as pickling, curing with salt or by adding artificial preservatives.

However, to keep food fresh for as long as possible without additives is a challenge, and one key technology for achieving this goal is to seal the food product in a package which contains a mixture of natural gases in carefully controlled proportions that significantly slow down the process of decay by inhibiting processes of oxidation and the growth of microbes. This is the essence of modified atmosphere packaging: the atmosphere in which the food is packaged is modified so that spoilage is markedly reduced and the shelf life of the product is increased.

The type and proportion of gas used in the packaging is largely dictated by the type of food in the package and the sort of decay or change that the food undergoes.

To package a product in a modified atmosphere requires sophisticated machinery to flush out air from the packaging chamber and replace it with a different gas or precisely defined mixture of gases, then seal the product in the packaging so that only the modified atmosphere surrounds the product and not any other unwanted gas.

Cutting edge technologies have been developed to ensure that the gas mixture is the correct one, and to test that once sealed the packages contain the right mixture and do not leak. If you are interested in learning more about quality control and testing of MAP products then visit