Fresh Pasta

Put simply, pasta is flour, water and eggs – yet delivery of fresh pasta to the consumer is perhaps one of the most difficult things to get right. The most common complaints received by the fresh pasta manufacturer are mould growth. 



How do I prevent Mould and Rancidity and keep my pasta fresher, for longer?

Fresh pasta, including fettuccine and linguine is particularly susceptible to mould growth. An effective way for the quality professional to manage mould when packaging fresh pasta is by modified atmosphere packaging/gas flushing, (i.e., packing in a Modified Atmosphere of carbon dioxide and nitrogen which removes oxygen). Modified Atmosphere Packaged (MAP) fresh pasta can have 3 times longer shelf-life which improves profitability. For the quality improvements to be effective, the package needs to be checked for leaks and have the proper headspace gas concentration; if there is too much oxygen present in the packaging a shelf-life of only about ONE week will be achieved, instead of the three or four weeks that properly gas flushed packages will deliver. As the official distributor of AMETEK MOCON, Mätt Solutions is able to offer an end-to-end solution for monitoring, testing and verification of the gas flushing process.  This starts with the Dansensor Map Mix Provectus, which ensures the correct gas mix enters the packaging. By using a specialised gas mixer, many customers find that they are able to achieve gas usage savings of up to 30% - this is on top of the benefit of knowing that the correct gas is being delivered to the packing machine.  To ensure quality and process control of the gas flushing process, the Dansensor CheckMate 3 or Dansensor CheckPoint 3 headspace gas analysers should be used to verify the gas mix in the package (or residual oxygen) by sampling the headspace. 

Finally, there is the LeakPointer 3 which allows for non-destructive leak detection when flushing with Carbon dioxide (CO2) and Nitrogen (N2) in a MAP environment. Another solution for leak detection, that has the added advantage of identifying the site of the leak, is a water bath. The package is immersed in water, a vacuum is created and the operator looks for a stream of bubbles caused by gas escaping through any hole. The options available for water-baths include the Dansensor LeakPointer H2O suitable for flexible, rigid and semi-rigid packages and the Haug PackVac range of waterbaths which come in a wide variety of sizes that can be extended to more than 85 cm x 65 cm x 60 cm

How do I ensure the absence of gluten in my gluten free pasta?

It is common for most major fresh pasta manufacturers to supply a “gluten free” version of their product.  In addition to having well trained staff and robust procedures that ensure ingredients aren’t mixed, a very good cleaning regime is needed to ensure that there is no cross contamination when switching to the allergen free formulation. A surface that appears clean may still contain allergen bearing residue (or even pathogens). The first line of defence is an ATP test - Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is an enzyme that provides a marker for biological life. There are also a wide range of “strip tests” that can be done quickly and easily onsite to verify the absence of specific allergens. 
The tests available include allergens such as Gluten, Milk, Whey, Crustaceans, Egg, Soy, Peanut and more. 


Is there a fast way to perform shelf-life testing/verification on fresh pasta?

Mätt Solutions offers shelf-life testing services that look at the product's "complete picture", considering all its aspects to determine when and what ends the shelf life for fresh pasta products. Packaging provides protection from extremes in light, temperature, humidity and oxygen all of which will reduce shelf-life if not controlled. To perform an accurate shelf-life test, it is imperative to expose the product to different conditions to know when and why it fails. Mätt Solutions have a wide selection of chambers and simulation set-ups to test these extremes and help determine the shelf-life and durability of fresh pasta by offering both accelerated and real time shelf-life studies as applicable. At the end of the trial, a comprehensive report is provided that states the actual shelf-life of the product, outlines reasons for failure and in most cases recommends ways to improve. This report tends to be a requirement by most supermarket chains and is well received by auditors and MPI (Ministry of Primary Industries) 

What gas mix should be used for fresh pasta?

In general oxygen should be removed to slow down bacterial spoilage, at the same time, with a relatively high fat content there is benefit from having CO2 present in gas-flushed pasta. A gas mix of 30% O2 and 70% CO2 is a great starting point for determining the best modified atmosphere mix for fresh pasta. 

How much will gas flushing extend the shelf life of fresh pasta?

Correct gas flushing can provide as much as triple the shelf life of a pasta that is packed without the benefit of a modified atmosphere gas

How much moisture should be in a fresh pasta?

Moisture present in pasta varies depending upon the specific variety and manufacturer. Many pastas will have a moisture content of 24% or more. When it comes to food safety M.P.I places far greater weight on water activity than on moisture content. 

What water activity should be targeted for fresh pasta?

The water activity of a fresh pasta will often be in the 0.92 – 0.99 microbial spoilage “danger zone” meaning that a combination of hurdle technology, gas flushing and refrigeration should be used for product safety. 

What is a “good” shelf life of fresh pasta?

Three weeks is a good shelf-life to target for a fresh, preservative free pasta – but this should be carefully verified by stringent shelf life trialling (both for organoleptic and microbial factors) and strong process control aided by clear HACCP procedures. 

Does gas flushing affect the taste of fresh pasta?

No, with use of the correct gas mix lipid oxidation and rancidity can be reduced which will help to preserve taste and freshness of fresh pasta.