5/28/2012

SPOONFUL - What is MAP?

The goal of every food technologist is to create food that is safe, nutritious and palatable. Hence, processed food should always be kept safe and stable. Various methods of food preservation have been developed over the years to produce food that is not only safe and stable but also delicious and of the best quality.





There are a lot of ways on how to preserve food. There is thermal processing which uses heat, addition of natural and/or artificial preservatives such as salting, curing or pickling and there is also the use of cold temperature or freezing. There are also more modern ways on how to store food without affecting the physical state of the product and its quality. One of these is the use of Modified Atmosphere Packaging or MAP.



Modified Atmosphere Packaging is the use of different gases to replace those present in the packaging. this is done to prevent the growth of spoilage microorganisms or to slow down chemical and biochemical deteriorative reactions caused by microorganisms. Let me put it this way, food, especially raw food,  have a certain amount of microorganisms that , when not inhibited, may cause food to spoil. What MAP does is to introduce gases that will make the environment unsuitable for spoilage microorganisms to grow. Most microorganisms need air to grow. When you introduce a different type of gas into a packed food, these microorganisms will have a hard time to multiply. It's like giving microorganisms poison gas to prevent them from growing and cause food spoilage.

The use of MAP has certain advantages. It increases shelf life of the product by 50-400%. It maintains the high quality of the product. It prevents the use of artificial preservative. It also prevents water loss and cross contamination. It can also improve product presentation in a convenient container, making food more attractive to retail customers.





However, there are also disadvantages to using MAP. Modified Atmosphere Packaging technology is a bit expensive so it can add to the product cost. Also, different types of food have different properties. The concentration of gases for one type of food is not the same for another. Knowledge about Modified Atmosphere Packaging is very vital to a food manufacturer who wishes to use it.









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