Keeping food fresh and safe with nitrogen packaging
Producing food which is safe to consume, with as long a shelf life as possible, are key concerns for the food industry.
When it comes to food, safety will always come first. Food which is safe to consume needs to be fresh and free from contaminants such as bacteria and mold. The problem is most foods will naturally decay when exposed to oxygen, limiting their freshness and allowing mold to grow.
However, there is a simple solution to the oxygen problem. Filling your food packaging with food grade nitrogen displaces oxygen, preventing decay and mold and keeping food fresh. Food grade nitrogen is high purity nitrogen which complies with FDA and EU standards for nitrogen as a food additive. It is a colorless, odourless inert gas which means that it will not have any impact on food taste, smell or appearance. It will, however, improve freshness when it is used for nitrogen packaging, by displacing oxygen from the packaging and removing its opportunity to interact with the food, causing decay. Nitrogen packaging is a form of MAP (Modified Atmosphere Packaging) as the atmosphere the food is packaged in has been deliberately modified in order to improve the food’s shelf life.
Depending on the food, the impact of nitrogen packaging on shelf life will vary. For example, nuts which are packaged with food grade nitrogen last much longer without going stale, lasting months rather than days. Breads also last longer, without growing mold, but their shelf life is extended by days rather than months. However even this shorter increase in shelf life brings significant benefits - allowing for larger distribution distances and times.
Once food industry professionals have experienced the benefit of using nitrogen for MAP, their next step is to determine the best nitrogen supply method. Traditionally, nitrogen cylinders or tanks may have been used but they are not the best methods available. Nitrogen cylinders would need changed frequently when being used on an industrial scale and they do not provide a purity which is consistent enough for food grade nitrogen, which must have a constant purity of 99%. Nitrogen tanks may not run out as quickly as cylinders, but they are still inefficient, due to outgassing, which can mean that a food production or processing plant is never able to use all of the nitrogen it has paid for. A significant amount of it will evaporate before it can be used. Both of these methods also come with considerable costs.
Thankfully, there is a much more efficient and cost-effective method of food grade nitrogen supply, a nitrogen generator. A nitrogen generator is ideal for nitrogen packaging as it produces gas on demand and never runs out, so production will never be halted due to running out of nitrogen. A nitrogen generator from Peak Gas Generation will also produce a constant and consistent purity of nitrogen, so it can always be relied upon to produce the food grade nitrogen required for food production and processing. Nitrogen generators are also the most cost-effective method of nitrogen gas supply as they generate their own gas, meaning a factory will never again need to purchase nitrogen. Also, the up-front cost of a nitrogen generator is relatively low, a Peak Gas Generation nitrogen generator typically pays for itself within 6 – 18 months.
When using nitrogen for Modified Atmosphere Packaging to keep food fresh and safe to consume, the best nitrogen supply method is via a nitrogen generator. Nitrogen generators are clearly the best method due to their constant supply, consistent purity of food grade nitrogen and their cost-effectiveness. If you would like to save money by switching to a nitrogen generator, contact us today.
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Majority of industries buy nitrogen gas supplies via nitrogen cylinder packs, others meet their needs through liquid nitrogen dewars, micro-bulk tanks or bulk liquid nitrogen delivery. There is a better, more sustainable & safer option. Reduce the cost of nitrogen gas to your organisation & become self-sufficient. Find out how much you can save with a Peak nitrogen generator system.