If foodstuffs are packed in air, they are exposed to atmospheric conditions which can lead to undesirable changes to the product. The main influences here are oxidation by atmospheric oxygen as well as microbial infestation by bacteria and mold. These unwanted influences can be suppressed or reduced by packing under a modified atmosphere (MAP: Modified Atmosphere Packaging).
When packaging under a modified atmosphere various gases can be used, for example carbon dioxide (CO2), argon (Ar), nitrogen (N2) or oxygen (O2).
In addition to displacing the ambient atmosphere, protective gases can reduce the oxidative changes to foodstuffs or the microbial activity.
A modified atmosphere offers the following advantages:
- Longer product shelf-life
- Longer preservation of sensory qualities like appearance or taste
- Reduced microbiological activity in product