Using Nitrogen Gas in Food Packaging?
September 11, 2018
Have you ever bought a bag of chips and wondered why there is so much air inside? Earth’s atmosphere naturally includes nitrogen gas, but the air in your chip packaging includes an even higher concentration.
You may have also wondered why food products manage to stay fresh for so many months while still inside the packaging. The answer to food preservation lies in using nitrogen gas in food packaging.
What Is Modified Atmosphere Packaging?
Food needs to be packaged carefully to withstand the journey from farm or factory to the grocery store and dining table. To achieve this goal, the food industry turns to a method of packaging called Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP).
MAP is a method of packaging food that takes the particular food’s level of respiration into account. This is because respiration determines the quality and type of air that is optimal for freshness.
When food is packaged, it can be packaged with “low permeability” or “high permeability” membranes based on the degree of respiration. For example, fruits and vegetables generally have much higher respiration and thus require the gas exchange to occur to stay fresh. With MAP the optimal type of membrane can be used to package each type of fruit and vegetable to prevent spoilage from occurring early.
Similarly, foods that do not respirate such as chips, cheese or spices are packaged with a low permeability membrane which prevents gas exchange. This way the atmosphere that is best for preventing spoilage is maintained inside the container ensuring freshness until the seal is broken.
Why Is Nitrogen Gas Used in Food Packaging?
Using nitrogen gas in food packaging is one of the main methods of food preservation because it is a way to displace oxygen. Oxygen is the main culprit in the air that causes spoilage.
Oxygen is a powerful oxidizing agent and produces spoilage by reacting with compounds like fat and sugars. For example, you may have noticed the browning of an apple after it has been bitten. This is due to oxidation taking place. This natural process causes damage to food creating unpleasant odors and spoilage.
Also, some forms of bacteria use oxygen to grow. If oxygen is made available, the bacteria will thrive on food. This could lead to a potentially dangerous growth of harmful bacteria that will increase the rate of spoilage. In fact, not only would the bacteria spoil the food, but they could also cause disease and/or death in people who consume that food.
Nitrogen food packaging is used for preservation and storage because it is a nonreactive gas that is non-toxic, non-odorous, and is widely available. In fact, nitrogen makes up 78 percent of the air we breathe. All these traits make nitrogen food storage safe and affordable.
Where to Get Nitrogen Gas for Food Packaging?
The best technique of the industrial preparation of nitrogen gas for food packaging would be to produce it yourself. An on-site nitrogen generation machine provides multiple benefits such as:
- Quick access to nitrogen
- Eliminate the need to buy in advance
- Zero wastage of product
- Removing the need to hire a supplier
- Guaranteed quality
An on-site membrane nitrogen generator like GENERON’s can be the best solution for your company.
GENERON is a pioneer in gas generation and process gas solutions. If you are interested in exploring your options with nitrogen gas generator in food packaging, contact us today.