Modified Atmosphere Packaging
It would be unjust to write an essay about innovations in food packaging and not mention modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). This is because modified atmosphere packaging has slotted itself into playing an integral part of the food industry (Han, 2005). The main objectives of MAP are to extend the shelf life of the food and in turn prevent any adverse changes in the safety, sensory, and nutritive characteristics of foods. MAP completes these purposes by following three simple principles:
1. It reduces undesirable physiological, chemical/biochemical, and physical changes in foods,
2. It controls microbial growth and,
3. It prevents product contamination.
MAP uses three main gases; nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. It is crucial that all three gases are used together, as each gas has its own individual role to play and in combination the correct MAP conditions are acquired. Nitrogen is used doe to its properties of being an inert and tasteless gas, but lacks antimicrobial activity. Its primary function is to displace oxygen, which consequently prevents package collapse. Oxygen is exploited as it plays a vital role in inhibiting the growth of anaerobic microorganisms, but unfortunately O2 promotes the growth of aerobic microbes. Whereas, carbon dioxide (CO2) is soluble in both water and lipids, but due to its property of becoming more soluble as temperatures decrease, the dissolution of CO2 in the product could potentially result in package collapse. The primary function of CO2 is that it is renowned for its bacteriostatic effect, and slowing down the respiration of many products (Cooksey, 2014). Therefore, it is evident that MAP would not work if one or more of the gases were not present. Saying this, it is possible to alter to percentage gas distribution to suit the product in question and the penetrability of the packaging material (Han, 2005).
The previous two types of packaging are popular methods of Active packaging but an innovative and ingenious sensation is the introduction of intelligent packaging. In recent years there have been massive advancements in intelligent packaging technologies and a variety of new devices. Intelligent packaging refers to a package that can sense environmental changes, and in turn inform the changes to the users. Han and Rodrigues (2003) defined intelligent packaging as being ‘simple intelligent packaging with an interactive or responsive intelligent packaging’ (Han et al., 2003). Han and Rodrigues (2003) refer to the ‘interactive and responsive intelligent packaging’ which means that these types packaging contains a sensor system that notifies consumers that the product is impaired in some way, and that the product has begun to undergo potential harmful changes in the food product. Such packaging systems comprise of varying devices that are capable of sensing and providing information about the properties of the packaged foods. They do so...