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Modified Atmospheric Packaging(MAP)

Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) involves controlling or modifying the atmosphere surrounding the product to slow spoilage by coating the food with an ‘edible film’ to increase shelf life.

These types of coatings present several potential health hazards, the most severe of which is the potential to promote the growth of food borne pathogens if misapplied. Essentially, by spraying a substance on the fresh produce, which forms a thin film, oxygen levels can be limited, which slows down the ripening process.

So what might this "edible" film substance be comprised of? The list of potential ingredients is a long one, and will vary from product to product but can be generally divided into four basic materials:

  • Lipids (waxes, oils, stearic acid)
  • Resins (such as shellac and wood rosin)
  • Polysaccharides (such as cellulose, pectin, starch, carrageenan, and chitosan)
  • Proteins (such as animal casein, soy, and corn-zein)
  • Common additives to these base materials include:

  • Plasticizers (such as polyethylene glycol, glycerol, and "other cross-linking agents")
  • Antimicrobials
  • Antioxidants
  • Texturizers (to customize the film for the particular product)
  • Nasty.