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8 food categories that producers know how to keep fresh

Most food products taste best on the first day. But production, refining and distribution make it impossible to sell and consume all the food within that time frame. So producers have to find ways of keeping the food products fresh for as long as it takes to get it from the factory to the grocery and all the way to the consumers’ tables. When doing so, applying different methods based on the nature of the specific type of food.

How to keep bread fresh

When you’re dealing with bread products you must pay attention to certain facts. One important fact is that the more water the bread contains, the more difficult it is to conserve the bread for a long time. One of the challenges with bread is moulds. Moulds need oxygen to grow. Oxygen also makes the bread dry out. Oxygen is the enemy here. So, you have to be careful that the package contains very little or no oxygen at all. This problem is easily fixed with a high percentage of carbon dioxide – up to 100 %, and 0 % oxygen in the package. You might need a leak test if you want to make sure the oxygen stays outside your package.

Read here how to improve shelf life by fighting leaks.

How to keep cheese fresh

With cheese, you might think that the presence of bacteria is part of a good cheese. But that is not necessarily the case. It depends on the type of bacteria. Some are good for the cheese, but others will spoil it. A rule of thumb: Hard cheeses with low water content are often attacked by moulds, while cheeses with a high water content easily get attacked by bacteria. Using pure CO2 is often the best solution because the CO2 will stall the bacteria attack. However, the best combination with soft and shredded cheese is a combination of of both N2 and CO2 for the package to keep its original form. Since pure CO2 will cause an undesired vacuum effect on the packaging material around the cheese.

© MOCON Europe A/S

How to keep coffee fresh

The biggest enemy when packaging coffee is oxygen. When coffee is freshly roasted lots of volatile oils develop. These oils will oxidate if the coffee is exposed to oxygen which will make the coffee taste rancid. So, oxygen has to be avoided when packaging coffee. If you choose to replace the oxygen content in the packages with other gases for instance nitrogen, it will prolong the taste of the coffee. This is what some might call a win-win-situation.

How to keep fish and seafood fresh

The secret behind fresh fish is of course to keep it cool – close to zero degrees. But even if you manage to keep it close to zero degrees, the fish might still begin to rot. Bacteria in the flesh will make the color of the fish change, and it will begin to smell badly. Oxygen is one of the enemies because some of the bacteria are aerobic which means that they grow when oxygen is present. Oxygen helps to keep the desired color of the fish. This is why it is important to find the perfect balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Learn more about carbon dioxide in MAP.

How to keep fresh meat fresh

Many people think meat looks fresher when it has its red color. The red color comes from myoglobin which is a protein in the meat that maintains the red color when using high O2 in the package. But oxygen also makes aerobic bacteria grow and as a consequence shortens the shelf life of meat. Carbon dioxide can stop the aerobic bacteria. So, with a balance between oxygen (80%) and carbon dioxide (20%) the shelf life of red meat will increase by up to 400-500%.

Read more about our gas mixers products.

How to keep processed meat fresh

As with fresh meat, color is a big issue when it comes to processed meat. No one wants the brownish-grey color that processed meat gets when exposed to light and oxygen. Opaque material will protect against the light. And with Modified Atmosphere Packaging you can lower the content of oxygen and increase the carbon dioxide and nitrogen. When you reach the perfect mix, you might gain up to five weeks of shelf life – instead of two to four days.

Read about consumers food habits in our survey here.

© MOCON Europe A/S

How to keep fruit and vegetables fresh

Fruit and vegetables are like living organisms. They continue to respirate and produce carbon dioxide. To reduce this kind of ‘behaviour’, you need to take several precautions:

• Store fruit and vegetables at a low temperature
• The level of oxygen must be low as well (typically 5-6%)
• You also have to be careful about the water content

Fruits and vegetables produce water vapor when you pack them, but too much water might lead to yeasts and mould and then the fruit has to be discarded. The perfect balance will be a very low content of oxygen and a high presence of nitrogen – up to 80 percent. This will keep the fruit fresh and increase its shelf life.

How to keep prepared food fresh

Prepared foods and dishes typically combines many different kinds of foods. Since different foods deteriorate in different ways, this is a major challenge when storing more foods in the same package. For some dishes a low level of oxygen combined with a higher content of carbon dioxide and nitrogen will give a longer shelf life. It all depends on the combination of food in the package. This is a difficult one where the producer has to find the right gas mix for each prepared food sort.

As every food product has its own characteristics it is important to control the packaging process. Food gone bad before it is sold is expensive and the groceries and consumers will have a negative view of your brand.

Read here how Hellenic Quality Foods improved their products’ shelf life.

  • Fish

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