Modified Atmosphere Packaging / Gas Flushing

What is MAP?

MAP – a technology that ensures packaged food products stay fresh and attractive for as long as possible.

What is MAP? Modified Atmosphere Packaging, MAP, is a technology that has been developed to ensure that packaged food products stay fresh and attractive for as long as possible.

Everyone knows that food does not stay fresh forever. Milk turns sour, bread goes mouldy, and meat develops a brown colour and an 'off' smell. A number of factors cause food spoilage. One of the main causes is the growth of microbes such as bacteria, yeasts and mould that are present all around us, even in and on our own bodies.

These microbes feed and grow on the food product, causing it to go bad. To keep food fresh for as long as possible without additives is a challenge, and one key technology for achieving this goal is to seal the food product in a package containing a mixture of natural gases in carefully controlled proportions that significantly slow down the process of decay by inhibiting processes of oxidation and the growth of microbes.

This is the essence of Modified Atmosphere Packaging: the atmosphere in which the food is packaged is modified so that spoilage is markedly reduced and the shelf life of the product is increased. Food is different – so is the gas composition used to pack different food products.

  • Red meat needs high oxygen to maintain the red colour
  • bread requires low oxygen to avoid mould
  • and vegetables often need a three-gas mixture

Our recommendation is always to consult the gas supplier to find the most suitable gas mixture and to perform shelf life studies before launching the product. To package a product in a modified atmosphere requires sophisticated machinery to flush out air from the packaging chamber and replace it with a different gas or precisely defined mixture of gases, then seal the product in the packaging so that only the modified atmosphere surrounds the product and not any other unwanted gas.

Cutting edge technologies have been developed to ensure that the gas mixture is the correct one, and to test that once sealed the packages contain the right mixture and do not leak.