Food, pharmaceutical and medical device companies will now be able to improve the accuracy of their package headspace oxygen readings via first-of-its-kind instrumentation technology from MOCON, Inc.

The objective is to help brand owners optimise material attributes and improve economics, while meeting shelf life and other performance objectives.

The company’s new OpTech®-O2 Model P test system uses a patent-pending Pressure Needle™ and a sensor to automatically measure internal package pressure and calculate the correct oxygen reading. (Internal package pressure directly impacts the accuracy of the oxygen reading.)

The ability of the instrument to automatically compensate for the internal pressure when measuring headspace gas is particularly important for small packages, such as blister packs.

This is because a variety of actions, such as the force required to insert the needle, can impact the internal pressure. The capability also benefits any package size with unknown internal conditions.

An additional benefit of the Pressure Needle is that the sensor is located at the tip and is inserted directly into the headspace, eliminating the need to extract headspace in order to conduct a test.

The sensors are non-consuming, enabling long-term shelf-life studies by measuring the changes within the same package headspace.

MOCON’s OpTech-O2 technology relies on an optical sensor that “fluoresces” or gives off light directly related to the amount of oxygen present in the package headspace.

In addition to headspace measurement the OpTech-O2 Model P is a useful tool for measuring oxygen permeation rates down to 1cc/(m2∙day).

“Meeting shelf life objectives are critical to companies marketing perishable products. Pharmaceutical firms want to make sure that headspace oxygen doesn’t negatively impact efficacy, while food companies want consumers to experience fresh, wholesome products. Getting accurate oxygen readings is critical to meeting those objectives,” said Doug Lindemann, Vice President.

“The OpTech-O2 Model P, when used with the Pressure Needle, provides automatic, accurate results in cases when internal package pressure was skewing the outcome.”