Review of Challenges and Advances in Modification of Food Package Headspace Gases

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Vol: 10, Issue: 1

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Boz, Ziynet; Welt, Bruce A; Brecht, Jeffrey K; Pelletier, William; McLamore, Eric; Kiker, Gregory A; Butler, Jason E
modified atmosphere packaging; MAP; food; muscle; fresh; produce; respiring; respiration; Bioresource and Agricultural Engineering; Mechanics of Materials; Membrane Science; Polymer and Organic Materials; Polymer Science; Transport Phenomena
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Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) has been widely used as an effective way to preserve foods. Fresh produce, meat and meat products, seafood, and dairy products can benefit from modified gaseous atmospheres, which are usually achieved by reducing oxygen and increasing carbon dioxide concentrations, within limits, defined by product tolerances. MAP of fresh produce is particularly challenging because products are living and respiring. Respiration rates depend on several factors including temperature, oxygen, and carbon dioxide concentrations. Balancing package permeation with respiration is challenging, often due to limited selection of practical packaging materials. Failing to remain within tolerance limits of products leads to rapid quality loss.Gas barrier properties of packages determined rate of gas exchange with the external environment and is a critical factor for achieving tolerable levels. Availability of packaging materials that meet requirement of specific produce is essential. Relative permeability of common films to carbon dioxide is about 3 to 6 times of that to oxygen, often leading to package collapse for package atmospheres that benefit from carbon dioxide. Films often fail to provide desired oxygen transmission rates, high carbon dioxide to oxygen selectivity and desired mechanical properties simultaneously.Despite advances, minimal availability and high cost of selective barrier films limit applications of MAP for fresh produce packaging. Therefore, active packaging components and films are being developed and designed to overcome these limitations. Inserts or films that contain active mixtures as gas emitters and/or scavengers are now commercially available. “Clean label” trends are motivating alternative approaches using active packaging components.