People ask us this question all the time: does Modified Atmosphere Packaging really work?

Modified Atmosphere Packaging or MAP is pretty wide spread in Europe across the food industry and is taking hold in North America as a method of extending food shelf life without the addition of artificial additives or preservatives. MAP is the process where the oxygen content is vacated from a food container and back filled with a natural, inert gas such as Nitrogen or Carbon dioxide, or even a mixture of the two. The idea is that the elimination of the oxygen slows the oxidation process and hampers the growth of bacteria and mold that will cause food to spoil or go stale.

But Do MAP Systems Work?

In order to test the theory we took one of today’s most unstable food products, fresh made guacamole, and put it to the test. You be the judge.

Commonly fresh guacamole is produced daily at a commissary and distributed to local grocery stores in the immediate vicinity. The sensitivity of avocado, guac’s main ingredient, to Oxygen pretty much necessitates that fresh made guacamole be consumed within 2-3 days. Oxidation quickly causes any exposed product to go brown. As a result, guacamole is hand packed and sealed for sale within 2 days. It can only be distributed a limited distance from the commissary and whatever is not sold is wasted. For our test we packed 8 oz servings into standard deli cups. Some were gas flushed using a combination of Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide and others were simply sealed with a lid. We also kept the original store package for a good comparison.

Day 0 – Everything looks good. The 2 containers on left are packed in MAP and the 2 on the right are in normal atmosphere.

Pack date – 02/22/16

Day 2 – The Product packed in MAP still looks good. Color is unchanged and product looks vibrant. Product in normal atmosphere is starting to brown.

Day 4 – Standard atmosphere product on the left looks absolutely disgusting. Product packed in MAP looks same as the day it was packed. Also, compared to the original store package, the MAP package looks perfect.

Modified Atmosphere Packaging is Superior

We called off the test after 4 days. From and appearance point of view the MAP package wins hands down. We dare not taste the brown guacamole but the MAP product was perfectly OK and the office enjoyed a little Friday afternoon fiesta. The store bought product is probably edible but lets be honest, nobody is going to buy that and the store will probably have thrown it out after Day 2.

The results speak for themselves. Modified Atmosphere Packaging significantly increased the shelf life of fresh made guacamole. Lets talk about your product. Call Point Five Packaging at 847-678-5016.

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