MAP lowers and regulates the amount of oxygen in packs to slow the growth of aerobic organisms and the speed of oxidative damage to food. Oxygen is commonly replaced by nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and sometimes carbon monoxide in order to preserve the colour of red meat.
Packaging that allows product to breathe and prevents contamination from outside gases is also used to preserve the atmosphere inside and prolong shelf life.
Dario Dommermuth, mechanical engineer at Bosch Packaging Technology, told FoodProductionDaily.com a project was underway to preserve the taste of chocolate products: “A short time ago we had a question about a chocolate bar with special ingredients inside. One reason to go in the MAP direction is to keep the taste of a product.”
For this reason, MAP was proving popular for coffee, where consumers’ palates demanded a high level of consistency for particular flavours, he said.
Leon Arkesteijn, product manager for horizontal form fill and seal (HFFS) packaging, based in the Netherlands, added: “Air tightness is becoming more and more important.”
Consistent sealing times
Bosch Packaging Technology had, for example, recently developed its Pack 301 Long Dwell (LD) flow wrapper for the global market. The machine is designed to ensure consistent sealing times of one second a pack regardless of line speed, guaranteeing products are hermetically sealed.
The equipment can be used to pack foods such as fresh produce, meat and dairy, as well as pharmaceuticals.
The company also developed a method for measuring seal integrity ultrasonically. Manufacturers are particularly anxious to stop compromised MAP ending up on shelves, as this can lead to costly complaints and recalls.
Arkesteijn added: “Convenience food is an upcoming market [for MAP], prepared foods, fresh foods, fruit, vegetables and fresh pasta.” MAP was also proving increasingly popular in South East Asia for packaging baked goods, he said.
Dommermuth said Bosch Packaging Technology was engaged on several MAP projects around the world, results for which would be delivered in due course. “There’s one in cheese and one in biscuits [for example].”
2013 would see Bosch Packaging Technology step up work on delivering quality targets for customers, the company said.
MAP is also used widely in the pharmaceutical industry, an area Bosch Packaging Technology also serves extensively.