Modified Atmosphere Packaging

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is the alteration of the initial gaseous environment that surrounds the food so that the resulting environment affects the metabolic processes of the food and food-borne microorganisms. The changes in the package atmosphere and resulting product characteristics can be influenced by the food itself, the gaseous environment around the food, the packaging materials, and external factors such as temperature, light, handling environment, and contamination. Vacuum packaging and gaseous MAP are the two major forms of MAP. The selection of the packaging materials, equipment as well as gases are dependent upon the desired characteristics of the food in the packaging. Plastic polymers, equipment that evacuates or gas flushes, and mixtures of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and/or oxygen are common in MAP systems for muscle foods, fruits, and vegetables, bakery products, dairy products, precooked foods, beverages, intermediate-moisture foods, and dried foods. The microbial safety of food in MAP is dependent upon the types and levels of pathogenic microorganisms present for growth and/or toxin production and the conditions in the package and food. Therefore, there is always a concern for foodborne illness risk from Clostridium botulinum growth and toxin production in anaerobic MAP if there is temperature abuse, from enterotoxic Escherichia coli and Listeria monocytogenes growth in refrigerated foods in MAP, and from other pathogenic microorganisms associated with specific foods and environments. Technologies of smart, intelligent, and active packaging systems are available for sensing food and environment conditions; altering the environment and thus the product through absorption or emission of different gases and compounds; and incorporating safe antioxidant and antimicrobial agents into packaging materials, packets/sachets/pads for inclusion in the package, or during the packaging process. This chapter will summarize the packaging equipment, materials, and gases for MAP; foods that are packaged in MAP; and recent technologies used in conjunction with MAP.

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Food Engineering Series

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