South African industrial gas specialist Air Products uses its expertise in specialty gases to increase the shelf life for various food products by utilising modified atmospheric packaging (MAP), which involves changing gas within the food packaging.

The company uses three main gases for MAP, Freshline Carbon Dioxide (CO2, Freshline Nitrogen (N2), and Freshline Oxygen (O2). 

The CO2 inhibits aerobic growth and prevents mould from forming, the N2 displaces oxygen and is also used as a filler gas to prevent the packaging from collapsing, and oxygen, although not commonly used, is deemed necessary for the meat packaging industry as it encourages the ‘correct’ pigment colour of packaged meat. 

Depending on the chemical and physical properties of the food being packaged, single gas or a mixture of gases can be used. 

MAP helps reduce the amount of oxygen present in the packaged product, as too much oxygen causes high respiration rates in fresh cut produce which results in a significantly shorter shelf life. 

Commenting on the usefulness of MAP, Palesa Mashigoane, Product Manager, Air Products’ Freshline, said, “Using MAP is a safe and effective way to extend the shelf life of food products.” 

“It allows food manufacturers to transport their goods without the worry of accelerating spoilage. It also allows retailers to store their food products for much longer periods and for the consumer it ensures consistent aesthetic results, meeting and exceeding the customer requirements.”

Further information about MAP can be found here.