Gas Generation

Modified Atmosphere Packaging with a Nitrogen Generator

Modified Atmosphere Packaging with NitrogenToday, 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.

Typical food products that benefit from MAP

  • Snack foods such as potato and corn chips
  • Nuts
  • Meats, poultry, and fish
  • Cooked meats, poultry, and fish
  • Edible oils
  • Coffee and tea
  • Powdered milk
  • Spices, pasta, and other dried products
  • Breads
  • Grated cheese and other dairy products
  • Salad
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Beverages

The benefits of using nitrogen for MAP

  • Preserving flavor, texture, taste, aroma, and nutritional value
  • Increased sales from higher product quality
  • Fewer recalls
  • Increased production efficiency with longer product runs
  • Extended shelf life
  • Increased export opportunities to new geographic areas

Traditional nitrogen supply

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:

  • Selecting a reliable vendor
  • Space allocation for gas storage
  • Concerns over purity variations from cylinder to cylinder
  • Developing procedures for monitoring and managing the gas supply as well as arranging deliveries and payment plans
  • Performing regular leak checks
  • Creating a safety plan for storing high pressure gas on-site
  • Training workers on how to handle high pressure cylinders and what to do in a crisis situation

An economical alternative to delivered nitrogen

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.

Modified Atmosphere Packaging with a Nitrogen Generator - Parker HannifinAdvantages of a nitrogen generator over a traditional nitrogen supply

  • Enhanced safety without the need to store or handle high pressure cylinders
  • On demand supply eliminates downtime due to running out of gas or cylinder changes
  • Up to 80% cost reduction
  • Consistent flow, pressure, and purity
  • Compact, space-saving design
  • Flexible, modular design
  • Low cost of ownership
  • Proven reliability

Modified Atmosphere Packaging with Nitrogen - Parker HannifinTo 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 Judy Silva, Gas Generation Technology Blog Team Member, Parker Hannifin




Related posts:

How to Select an On-Site Nitrogen Generator

Nitrogen: A Cost Effective Way to Extend Food Shelf Life


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