Saturday, January 7, 2023

History of modified atmosphere packaging

Modified Atmosphere Packaging - MAP - is a packaging system that involves changing the gaseous atmosphere surrounding a food product inside a pack, and employing packaging materials and formats with an appropriate level of gas barrier which slows down the degradative processes such as the growth of microbial organisms, whilst enhancing some beneficial actions such as retaining the desirable red colour of meat. MAP can significantly extend the shelf life of food products, thus prolonging the distribution chain and diminishing the need for centralized production.

It was a French naturalist, chemist and physicist, Jacques √Čtienne B√©rard who first understood in 1821 that fruits ripening can be delayed reducing the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. The results of the experiments won him the Grand Prix de Physique from the French academy of Sciences, but it failed to inspire any commercial application.

MAP was first recorded in 1927 as a means of extending the shelf-life of apples by storing them in atmospheres with reduced O2 and increased CO2 concentrations.

In the 1930s it was used as modified atmosphere storage to transport fruit and beef carcasses in the holds of ships by increasing the CO2 concentrations for long-distance transport, and it was observed to increase the shelf-life by up to 100%.

The first significant packaging trials, with individual portion packs rather than bulk supplies, were made in the late 1950s when vacuum packaging for meat, fish and coffee were first introduced. Experimentation then extended to gas flushing with nitrogen in the early 1960s.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, some unspectacular progress was made in Europe, the greatest applications being the vacuum packaging of meats and cheese and the gas flushing of ground coffee. Commercial retailing of fresh meat in MAP tray systems was introduced in the early 1970s.

European meat processing and packaging developed during the 1980s with centralized production of MAP meat in consumer packs for distribution to retail outlets.

In 1981 a breakthrough occurred. One of the most prestigious of retailers, Marks & Spencer, introduced MAP for its complete range of fresh meats. The success of this product led years later to the introduction of MAP for bacon, fish, sliced cooked meats and cooked shellfish. Other food manufacturers and supermarket chains followed, resulting in a sharply increased availability of MAP food products reflecting the increase in consumer demand for food.
History of modified atmosphere packaging

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