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MAP testing can save thousands

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article image Paul Horabik of Air Liquide demonstrates the Novatech oxygen analyser.

A NOVATECH oxygen analyser can save food manufacturers thousands of dollars and prevent embarrassing quality failures according to Air Liquide.

Australian food gases area manager Paul Horabik said Air Liquide is often called upon to assist with the testing of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) systems.

According to research in the USA, MAP systems can extend the shelf life of fresh produce by 50-400 per cent if storage temperatures and gas mixtures are optimised.

"We might advise on the selection of gases and tweak the system to get the right residual oxygen level, which is extremely important," he said.

"For most applications an accuracy of 0.1 or 0.2 per cent would be necessary for testing, making an accurate and reliable oxygen analyser essential.

"Although most manufacturers have their own, we often lend our Novatech analyser to people when they are setting up and from time to time we use it to do checks for customers."

Different products require different concentrations of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Factors influencing the mixture include fat composition, respiration rates and the desirability of bloom in red meats.

Because shelf life, food safety and appearance are all affected by the gas ratios, Mr Horabik said tests should be carried out regularly throughout the day, but many Australian food manufacturers were skipping checks at their peril.

"The bigger companies perform regular tests, but many smaller operators don't in attempt to save money, which is a false economy," he said.

"You're sending out thousands of dollars of product every day and investing in thousands of dollars of packaging equipment. It seems logical you should do a check to make sure it is protected."

Mr Horabik said checks were not difficult and demonstrated how quickly the Novatech oxygen analyser could test for concentrations.

"You just plug it in, give it a few minutes to warm up to the correct temperature and it's ready to use," he said. Novatech Controls 1800 337 063.

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