Have you ever wondered how to keep dishes fresh without using harmful preservatives? Delivering fresh, delicious & healthy dishes directly to your home is our top priority. This, of course, without any preservatives!
For this reason, we package all our dishes in a modified atmosphere (MAP). This allows us to extend the shelf life without changing the physical or chemical properties of the food or adding non-natural additives.
But what exactly does "modified atmosphere packaging" mean?
Most food in the supermarket is in a package. But not all packaging is the same. For example, you can distinguish between "packaged in air" and "packaged in a modified atmosphere".
When food is packed under air, this can lead to unfavourable changes, such as:
- faster spoilage
- multiplication of bacteria
- oxidative changes, i.e. changes in colour or taste.
To avoid this many foods are packaged in a modified atmosphere. This works by first extracting the ambient air and then replacing it with a specifically modified gas mixture. Similar to humans, many spoilage-causing organisms need the special gas mixture of breathable air to survive (approximately 21 % oxygen, 78 % nitrogen, 0.03 % carbon dioxide and 1 % inert gas). The food industry has taken advantage of this to literally "cut off the air" from bacteria in food packaging.
The exact gas mixture is adapted to the individual product. It can consist of oxygen (O2), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen (N2) or other inert gases. Officially, the process is called "modified atmosphere packaging". The modified atmosphere then extends the shelf life of the food and you can recognise it by the label on the package ("Packed in a modified atmosphere").
Are there any health concerns?
When opened, the adulterated air-gas mixture mixes with the real (natural) one - and is thus neutralised. There are no health concerns for the consumption of the packaged food.
By the way: Fresh meat is often packed with a high concentration of oxygen. This is what makes the meat appear more red when refrigerated.
Advantages and disadvantages of modified atmosphere packaged products
Unfortunately, modified atmosphere packaged food is always wrapped in plastic. However you can use recycled plastic to try and limit the impact this has on the environment.
On the more practical side, when you’re buying packaged products it can be harder to get the exact amount that you want. This is relevant, for example, when you buy meat. If you buy it fresh at the counter, you can order exactly the weight you need and thus avoid food waste.
Also watch out, products that are packaged in a modified atmosphere must be stored with special care. If the packaging is damaged, it is no longer effective.
There are many advantages of this form of food storage:
- The packaged products have a higher quality. This is because changes to the products are reduced by how they are stored.
- The bright red colour of beef and pork is preserved, whereas if stored in air beef can start to turn a duller, grey colour.
- The food has a longer shelf life, which can help to reduce food waste and makes it easier to plan your meals for a week.
- Additional preservatives are not necessary.
- Food packaged in a modified atmosphere is marked with a use-by date. Unlike fresh products, this makes it clear to consumers how long it can be eaten for. The use-by date is calculated based on the period of time during which there is no detectable increase in the amount of bacteria and fungi in the dish.
A final tip: If you buy food that is packed in a modified atmosphere, check the packaging for damage. If the packaging has been broken then the food will taste less fresh and the use-by date will be inaccurate.