We’ve got MAP, mapped-out
The advent of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) revolutionized the way that companies prepare and preserve their products. When they started manipulating the atmosphere – known as the headspace gas – inside their packages.
To create a desired MAP environment, you blend gases including oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen together and flush your packages. After creating the desired headspace gas, you then hermetically seal the package so that the product contained within is protected from the environment.
So, what’s the purpose? You can isolate your product from the atmospheric air – protecting against decomposition and rapid oxidation. The shelf life extension provided by a modified atmosphere can be anything from days to years. At any point down the line you can then check the headspace gas created with a MAP gas analyzer.
This headspace gas changing process has many applications. But it’s particularly popular in the food and pharmaceutical industries where oxygen and carbon dioxide headspace gas analyzers are needed for packaging shelf life studies or to monitor the deterioration of drugs over time.
But how did this simple yet effective technique of flushing packages with gas come about?
A short timeline of MAP packaging
You could say that the foundations for the MAP gas analyzer were laid two hundred years ago in France. It was 1821 when Jacques Etienne Berard – a professor at the School of Pharmacy in Montpellier – discovered you can extend the shelf life of fruit. Not a tricky concept…you just had to reduce the oxygen content of the atmosphere!
The profound results of his experiments weren’t really developed until the 1930’s. This was when the controlled atmosphere storage (CAS) method was invented. It wasn’t overly technical – you simply create a storage room with a high CO2 environment, helping to keep things fresher, for longer.
Shortly after, this method was inherited by the meat industry. Starting in Australia and New Zealand. When farmers and distributors sought a better way to transport beef and lamb carcasses to serve the UK market. Again, storage areas of the ships were flushed with CO2, which helped to maintain freshness. A simple start, but one that led to complete control of headspace gas concentration – plus the invention of the MAP gas analyzer.
Fast-forward 10 years to the 1940s and 1950s and it was becoming common for fresh apples and pears to be stored in an enclosed, CO2 rich warehouse. It wasn’t until several decades later – in the 1970’s – that modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) was officially born.
Mexico claimed it first – where companies producing bacon and fish started to alter the headspace gas content of their retail packs before sending them to market. Flushing them with carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
Since then, development moved quickly to match the growing consumer demand for fresh food. The simple techniques and materials have been refined and developed over the years. To maintain headspace gas control, producers are reliant on headspace gas analysis to meet their consumer commitments.
Now you’ll find the headspace gas altering benefits of MAP technology used across the packaged foods industry. You’ve probably made a lunch entirely from MAP contained foods! Think cheese and tomato filled sub washed down with a hot cup of coffee. You’ll also find it in places like pharmaceutical blister packs.
We have the MAP… just ask for directions!
The Industrial Physics family of brands have been mapping out the MAP market for decades now. Whether you need a stand-alone MAP gas analyzer or a full range of inspection devices and tools to support any manner of packaging shelf life studies or single package tests. We’ve got you.