On some packages I see the words "packed in a protective atmosphere" which I realize is not vacuum -sealed; what does it mean? The product is subjected to ionizing radiation, isn’t it?
Thanks for the question that allows us to give light on the types of packaging.
Meanwhile it is good to clarify that the European regulation of the biological effect (Article 10) prohibits the use of ionizing radiation in biological product.
The vacuum is an industrial technique which involves removing all the air from the container of the present air or only of some gases, such as oxygen, the main responsible for the oxidation.
The vacuum, however, despite having solved various problems related to food preservation today appears to have some disadvantages during transport and handling of packaged goods; taking stronger blows packages tend to lose it, in addition the vacuum closely unite the plastic film to the product , crushing and sometimes penalizing the appearance and therefore marketability.
By this time the packaging technology had to find alternatives such as and especially the MAP packaging (protective atmosphere).
Thanks to the replacement of air with a gas mixture, this type of packaging, allows to increase the shelf life of food products and helps to maintain these sensory properties thanks to the inhibitory and bacteriostatic action of the gases used.
In this way nutritional, physical (size, volume, etc..) aspect and the taste of food remain unchanged compared to the pre-packaged.
The gases used are mainly made from nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide inhibits the growth of fungi, molds and bacteria and slows down the maceration of plants but a too high concentration can "fade" the product.
Nitrogen is an inert gas, odorless, tasteless, used as the filling gas.
Oxygen is added in some cases to avoid the development of anaerobic bacteria, to allow the breathing of fresh vegetables.
Most of our grains, legumes and seeds are packaged in bag in MAP: the packer blows nitrogen in the forming tube of the machine and the package is slightly swollen because of it.
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