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Close up image of packaged meat at a grocery store
Technology, Nitrogen Generators

Why Food Packaging Facilities Are Choosing Modified Atmosphere Packaging


Much of the food we consume on a daily basis is packaged — whether it’s boxed, canned, bottled, shrink wrapped or vacuum sealed. Food packaging helps prevent contamination when items are shipped and purchased, and it creates a physical barrier to keep out foreign objects. Not to mention, it helps ensure products stay in optimum condition from distribution to point of use.

You may be familiar with the different types of food packaging, but did you know that many food processing plants and packagers are switching to Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)?  

What is Modified Atmosphere Packaging? 

MAP is a food preservation technique that packages food products in an atmosphere usually containing 78.08 percent nitrogen, 20.96 percent oxygen and 0.03 percent carbon dioxide. During this process, the atmosphere’s temperature is lowered, which helps reduce the food products’ respiration rates and keeps the products from aging and ripening. With MAP, products stay fresh while maintaining their taste, texture and appearance.

Benefits of MAP

The improved packaging technology: 

  • Extends shelf life without the use of food additives
  • Decreases oxygen levels to inhibit food decay during distribution
  • Preserves food items for maximum freshness
  • Reduces supply chain waste and the packaging’s carbon footprint

MAP equipment

To get the most out of MAP, packaging facilities rely on high-quality equipment such as:

  • Vacuum pumps – Vacuum is used to remove oxygen from the packaging, which extends the product’s shelf life.
  • Nitrogen generators – After oxygen is removed, the packaging is filled with nitrogen and other gases to inhibit aerobic spoilage.

What products use MAP?

MAP is commonly utilized in snacks, coffee, cheese, pasta, baked goods, sandwiches and processed meats. It is also becoming increasingly popular in fresh-cut produce, like pre-packaged salads and fruit, for convenience, quality and more variety.

Chances are, if you’re shopping for any of these items at the grocery store, they’ve been packaged using MAP. Learn more about this growing packaging trend when you reach out to an Atlas Copco expert.

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