As food safety standards become increasingly stringent, companies providing modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) need to ensure that they have appropriate monitoring and reporting systems in place, according to industry experts.

Two main areas of food safety standards as applied to modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) relate to traceability and hazard control.

The EU directive No 95/2/EC classified gases used in MAP as food additives, and as such these come under the regulations governing food traceability – the ability to track a food product through all stages of production, processing and distribution.

Customer-driven factors are thought to have made such regulations even stricter of late. Mette Skræ, a Food Inspector with food safety inspection company Bureau Veritas, commented, “For many years there have been regulations relating to putting modified atmospheres into packaging, but recently the situation has become a lot more strict – something that has largely been driven by customers, notably the big supermarkets.”

“The main thing is that if you are putting something in your product, whether it is a gas or it is salt, you should be able to trace that substance back through the different stages of the process to the people who produced it,” added Skræ.

Clearly to implement such traceability requires not only accurate and timely monitoring of the gas composition, but also hazard analysis or hazard analysis and critical control point assessment (HACCP). In MAP such critical control points would include the gas content and package seal integrity.

PBI-Dansensor, one of Europe’s leading companies dedicated to quality and process control for MAP processing, also recognises the new challenges on the MAP horizon and as such, has been developing technology to meet them.

The company produces a range of automatic and manual gas analysers as well as innovative leak detectors for packaging, and PBI-Dansensor’s Sales and Marketing Manager Karsten Kejlhof explained, “To meet ever-stricter food safety regulations it is important to have the correct quality control and quality assurance equipment.$quot;

$quot;One of the main issues for both traceability and hazard analysis is to have documentation and data to show what was happening at a given point in the process at a given time. Keeping records and logging data is crucial.”