What is MAP packaging?

MAP packaging and its impact on food freshness

MAP packaging, which stands for modified air packaging, is when packaging manipulates the atmosphere surrounding an (often perishable) product. Frequently used within the food and beverage industry, they can control or modify the gases in the packaging to create optimal conditions to increase the shelf life of products. MAP packaging can help to reduce oxidation and preserve the freshness of perishable goods, thereby maintaining their visual, textural, and nutritional properties. MAP packaging can be passive or active.

Passive MAP packaging involves using a specific material of packaging that allows a desired atmosphere to develop naturally. There are several types of passive MAP packaging. Barrier packaging films can decrease moisture and oxygen within the atmosphere of the packaging. Desiccant packs, also known as oxygen scavengers, can be placed within packaging with catalysts that absorb the moisture and oxygen. One-way valves can also be added to packaging so that certain gases can escape the packaging while none can penetrate it. They are often used to off-gas packaging for products that can release gases.

On the other hand, active MAP packaging involves replacing the gases within a packaging with a controlled and desired mix of gases. Gas flushing is an active MAP packaging method where harmless gases (such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide) displace ambient oxygen within the packaging. Since both passive and active MAP packaging solutions can reduce the oxygen and moisture within the packaging, they can help food stay fresh for longer without chemicals.