Today, the food industry faces demands for all types of produce, from exotic tropical fruits to the staple diet of bread, rice and potatoes, to be available all year round in “just produced” condition. Health concerns over reducing salt, chemicals and preservatives in food places additional pressure on suppliers and manufacturers to find safe, economical ways to extend shelf life. As a result, retailers recognize the need for improvements in packaging technology.
Food products begin to deteriorate almost as soon as they are picked or prepared for packaging. Bacteria, yeast, moisture, and mold are the culprits. The goal of food manufacturers and processors is to delay decay to allow more time from production to the consumer without sacrificing quality.
Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is a process that has been used for many years to combat food spoilage. MAP involves packaging or storing product in a modified form of the Earth’s natural atmosphere. Air inside a package is displaced with a protective gas to keep oxygen at controlled levels (less than 2 percent). Too much oxygen and moisture in a package leads to bacterial growth and oxidation, which results in spoilage, inconsistent flavors, poor product quality, and shortened shelf life. Nitrogen gas is usually used as a protective gas in MAP because of its dry, inert qualities.
Nitrogen has traditionally been supplied in the form of high pressure cylinders, liquid mini tanks or bulk storage vessels. However, a delivered nitrogen supply can present a host of problems including:
Producing nitrogen on-site from compressed air is an economical alternative to buying it. A Parker nitrogen generator, for example, is a plug and play system that uses standard plant compressed air to produce high purity, food grade nitrogen. Installation involves connecting a compressed air line to the inlet and connecting the outlet to the nitrogen line. The system is designed to produce a continuous and consistent supply of commercially sterile nitrogen.
To learn more about in-house nitrogen generation for modified atmosphere packaging, read this brochure. You can also call 1-978-858-0505 to speak with a Parker applications engineer.
This post was contributed by the Gas Generation Technology Blog Team, Parker Hannifin