Modified Atmosphere Packaging

The principal spoilage mechanisms for non-dairy bakery products are mould growth, staling, and moisture migration. Yeasts may cause a problem in certain filled or iced products. Since non-dairy bakery products are generally less than 0.96, bacterial growth is inhibited and rarely a problem. However, some species of bacteria may be able to grow in certain products and hence pose a potential food poisoning hazard.

What is MAP?

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is a packaging method that manipulates the atmosphere within the packaging. The air above the food is removed by flushing the package with inert gases such as carbon dioxide or nitrogen. A gas/product ratio of 2:1 is often used.

How does MAP work?

MAP can significantly increase the shelf life of bakery products. Tortilla wraps, baguettes, bagels, pita, naan bread, and other types of bread are typical products that benefit from the MAP.

Because these products have a low water content, the most likely microbes to cause spoilage are moulds, as bacteria require a large amount of available water. These moulds are aerobic, requiring oxygen from the air to grow. The modified atmosphere works to remove oxygen, replacing it with a high proportion of carbon in this type of application. Hence, using modified atmosphere packaging is ideal for baked goods.

Using high carbon dioxide as the modified atmosphere can make the packaging relatively easy to test for leaks. Leak detection systems for carbon dioxide are well developed and can be set up to work automatically during the packaging process.

Benefits of MAP

MAP can help to extend shelf-life, reduce waste, and increase product distribution range. MAP can improve product presentation and quality while also increasing perceived value by allowing the product to look and taste better for longer.

Packaging security is essential for food processors, and not just from the standpoint of keeping food unspoiled and safe to eat. In the context of packaging, security covers everything from consumer tampering to bioterrorism to product counterfeiting.

MAP packages quickly show signs of package tampering or failure through broken seals. Loose film on vacuum-packed gas flushed products indicates that the seal integrity has been compromised.

Examples of baked goods

The integrity of the packaging materials is particularly important for baked goods, as any micro-leak can allow oxygen to enter. This will immediately allow mould to grow and increase water vapour exchange, changing the product’s texture.

Fat can turn rancid and change the colour and flavour of products with a higher fat content (such as croissants). Furthermore, excessive carbon dioxide can impact the appearance and acidity of certain products (glazes, for example). The problem here can be solved by introducing a small amount of nitrogen into the mix.

At room temperature, a pre-baked dough product packed in a pure carbon dioxide atmosphere has a shelf life of five to twenty days. Some products can have shelf lives of up to six months if packaged properly and in an appropriate environment.

Best packaging materials for baked goods

The best material for baked goods packaging should be strong enough to protect its contents against possible contamination during transport and storage. At the same time, it should not hinder baking quality by trapping heat or moisture even after exposure to these elements for an extended period. These materials can be used with the MAP to increase its effectiveness.

Parchment Paper:

The best material for baking should be able to store well for an extended period because buyers rarely buy these items on impulse and only if required. Parchment paper fulfils all these criteria mentioned above, so its use has become commonplace in bakeries.

Metallized Films:

The top material for bakery product packaging should be metallic film because this type of material does a fantastic job trapping heat and moisture even after long periods. In addition, these films are easy to print on, making them perfect for bakery products.

Cling Wrap:

Clear plastic sheeting like cling wrap is also ideal for bakery product packaging because it provides a clear view of the contents inside. Customers can see what they are purchasing, which means they will spend less time opening the plastic to inspect them before making a purchase decision.

Moisture Absorption Film:

Moisture Absorption Film (MAF) is a packaging material integrated with a film and desiccant. Unlike other standard packaging films, the MAF can absorb moisture from the inner contents of the film. This is due to the integrated desiccants, which absorb water vapour to ensure that the pouch is kept at a low humidity level, maintaining the freshness of the baked goods throughout the supply chain.

Other modified atmosphere packaging applications

  • Coffee roasters
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Fresh and processed meat
  • Specialty snacks
  • Dairy products
  • Fresh pasta
  • Ready-to-eat meals

Conclusion

The integrity of the packaging materials is important for baked goods, as any leakage can allow oxygen to enter, causing mould to grow quickly and the product to dry out and become stale.