Onsite Nitrogen Generation is widely used in the preparation, production and packaging of foods. Oxygen if present can cause spoilage, the growth of moulds, yeast and aerobic bacteria and cause impairment of taste.
Food goes bad, it goes sour, becomes mouldy and smells - it's a fact we all know. Without the use of preservatives it is a challenge for food manufacturers to prepare, store and transport their produce to the consumer in the very best condition. This is where Modified Air (MA) and Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) comes into its own.
Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) Using Onsite Nitrogen Generation
Modified Atmosphere Packaging is one of the most reliable ways of extending the shelf life of fresh food products, first used in the 1970's in the UK and Denmark for the safe transportation of meat and dairy produce, it has now become an established technology for food packaging.
Using Nitrogen to modify or substitute the atmospheric air inside of a package as a protective gas mix, it helps the product to stay fresh as long as possible - it maintains freshness, quality and extends shelf-life.
Bread Products - Packaging with Onsite Nitrogen Generation
Baked products such as tortilla wraps, baguette, bagels, pita bread, naan bread and other types of bread generally have a low moisture content and while not affected by bacterial contamination are prone to attack and spoilage by moulds. Because moulds are aerobic, removing the oxygen from their packaging and replacing it with nitrogen is an effective way of increasing their shelf life. The products do not need to be frozen and are therefore easier and cheaper to store and transport.
Cheeses and Cheese Products - Packaging with Onsite Nitrogen Generation
Hard and soft cheese can be attacked by moulds and bacteria depending on their moisture content. Fats present in the cheese can become oxidised by exposure to atmospheric air or poorly treated compressed air making them rancid with an unpleasant smell.
Both hard and soft cheese can benefit from being packed in a nitrogen enriched atmosphere. This not only improves shelf life but due to being inert, unlike carbon dioxide which can be dissolved in the water content of the cheese causing package collapse, it has a positive affect on flavour and appearance.
By using IATT Onsite Nitrogen Generators in MAP, shelf life will be extended from a couple of weeks to ten weeks for hard cheese and from days up to three weeks for soft cheese. The same benefits can be given to grated and sliced cheese products.
Fish and Seafood - Packaging with Onsite Nitrogen Generation
Fish, prawns and shrimp all have significantly different characteristics so careful consideration to packaging is vital if products are to be delivered to consumers in a good and healthy condition.
Bacteria present in raw fish and enzymes in the flesh as well as the high water content quickly degrade the product with bacterial and enzyme proliferation causing the unpleasant smell of bad fish. Fats in fish such as mackerel can become oxidised which becomes rancid adding to the problem.
Because both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria can be present in fish and seafood MAP gas mixtures need to be carefully balanced. The use of nitrogen as a constituent gas in the packaging process will improve shelf life from a few days to two to three weeks.
Food Ingredients, Fruit and Vegetables - Packaging with Onsite Nitrogen Generation
When fruit, salad, leafed and root vegetables are harvested, unlike meat and fish products they still continue to breathe or respire taking in oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. Low temperature can reduce the effects caused by this and help maintain the products taste and appearance. High water content and acidity also contribute to potential spoilage from yeast and moulds.
Enhanced product quality with extended shelf life is achieved by a nitrogen enriched packaging atmosphere which can extend shelf life from a few days to over eight days.
Fruits, apples, potatoes and other vegetables can be spoilt by enzyme oxidisation when the skins or flesh are damaged. Packaging products in a high nitrogen content atmosphere improves life from a few minutes/hours to several days.
Prepared Foods and Ready Meals - Packaging with Onsite Nitrogen Generation
Modern life has seen the increase of numerous ready meals in pre-prepared trays for easy heating and consumption - known as convenience foods. These along with prepared foods such as pizzas, sandwiches, meat & vegetable products and cheese based foods are all susceptible to airborne contamination from spoilage organisms.
Because of the array of different food stuffs in the one package, there are a lot of different deterioration effects that can occur while the product is in transit to the consumer. A careful gas mixture in the MAP is essential if extended shelf life is to be achieved.
Packaging Prepared Foods and Ready Meals using nitrogen and storing the products in a chilled environment can increase shelf life from a couple of days to several weeks. The flavour of pre-cooked meals that have not been oxidised in air which can cause a stale off-taste is also improved.
Snack Foods - Packaging with Onsite Nitrogen Generation
A wide array of snack foods such as potato crisps, peanuts, biscuits, dry fruit and other perishable products can benefit from being packaged in a nitrogen modified atmosphere.
Nitrogen helps maintain product freshness, quality and extends shelf-life. The nitrogen reduces the oxygen content within food packaging to prevent product deterioration which may occur due to oxidative rancidity, moisture loss or gain, bacterial and mould caused spoilage.
Nitrogen can also be used as a filler gas to create a pressurised atmosphere that prevents package collapse therefore helping to protect the product and ensuring that it is in good condition for the customer.
Raw and Fresh Meat - Packaging with Onsite Nitrogen Generation
MAP for the packaging of raw, fresh and processed red and poultry meat has been used for many years.
The preservation of red meats such as beef presents a challenge to food producers due to the fact that oxygen loving aerobic bacteria can spoil the meat while on the other hand the presence of oxygen keeps the red colour of the meat preventing it turning brown. This is caused by the reaction of the myoglobin in the tissue with oxygen to produce either red or brown pigmented forms of oxy/metmyoglobin.
Using nitrogen in the MAP process can significantly increase shelf life from a couple of days to up to eight days with refrigeration - a slow rate of spoilage and product appeal is achieved.
Processed Meat - Packaging with Onsite Nitrogen Generation
Processed meats such as ham, salami and other cold cut meats have a tendency to become discoloured in the air due to the reaction with the myoglobin in the tissue and atmospheric oxygen causing them to turn brown. Rancidity due to fat oxidisation and a green tinge of colour on the meat surface from mould or bacterial growth all add to the problems with shelf life and top quality product appearance.
MAP with high nitrogen concentrations for the packaging of processed meat products will enhance shelf life from a few days to up to five weeks.
Coffee Packaging - Packaging with Onsite Nitrogen Generation
After roasting, oxygen begins degrading coffee causing it to lose its flavour. Displacing oxygen with nitrogen during packaging process preserves the flavour and shelf life
Food Storage and Transportation Using Onsite Nitrogen Generation
Onsite Nitrogen Generation can be used in food packaging to add pressure inside the package not only to ensure that the product will stay fresh but also to prevent package collapse to help protect friable products in transport ensuring they arrive at the point of sale in excellent condition.
Liquids and Ingredients Production and Packaging Using Onsite Nitrogen Generation
When liquids and ingredients are stored in silos and tanks it is vital that they are not contaminated by atmospheric pollutants and the ingress of organisms and insects. Onsite Nitrogen Generation can be used to blanket silos and tanks to reduce the oxygen levels thus eliminating this problem.
Marine Transport with Onsite Nitrogen Generation
Marine vessels carrying food stuffs long distances through a wide range of climatic conditions can benefit by using on-board nitrogen gas generation to modify the atmosphere in the cargo holds. Onsite Nitrogen Generation eliminates the need for traditional high pressure cylinders or liquefied nitrogen gas supply whilst significantly extending the food stuffs transportation endurance.