Introduction: Introduction of the most important gases used in the food industry and their advantages and disadvantages.
Gases used in food packaging.
Carbon Dioxide gas.
Ethylene Oxide gas.
The reason behind this phenomenon is that during the packaging process and on the food itself, certain processes are applied to increase the shelf life of the food. In fact, these processes, by slowing down the food spoilage, contribute to its extended preservation.
One of the methods to slow down food spoilage is the use of gases that aid in this process. However, do these substances and gases have any negative effects on the food?
Gases used in the food industry This article introduces the most important gases used in the food industry and discusses their advantages and disadvantages.
Gases used in food packaging:
Carbon Dioxide (CO2):
Carbon dioxide dissolves in water and fats, which slows down the growth of microorganisms in the environment. It also affects the growth rate in the logarithmic phase, reducing the growth rate.
However, it is essential to use a specific amount of carbon dioxide. For example, excessive carbon dioxide in dairy products like cream can cause sourness and spoilage. Similarly, an excessive amount of carbon dioxide for fruits and vegetables can lead to physiological damage.
Nitrogen is an odorless, tasteless, and neutral gas with low solubility in water and fats. It helps maintain freshness, protects nutrients, and prevents the growth of aerobic microorganisms. It is used as an alternative to active gases in packaging.
The main challenge with nitrogen is that some food products require a small amount of oxygen to preserve their color and texture. For example, red meats, if deprived of oxygen, develop undesirable colors. Also, using nitrogen to modify the atmosphere of packaged foods prevents the growth of aerobic bacteria but not anaerobic ones. Anaerobic microorganisms can be dangerous and must be carefully controlled as they can cause consumer health issues.
Using oxygen delays the growth of non-aerobic bacteria. Additionally, oxygen plays a role in preserving the color of fresh meat.
However, oxygen is a potent oxidizing agent and reacts with compounds such as fats and sugars. Some bacteria also require oxygen to survive, and the presence of oxygen intensifies their growth.
Ethylene oxide is a strong disinfectant and sterilizing agent. It is also used to delay the spoilage of certain food products before export. However, its use in the food industry was prohibited in Europe since 2020 due to the remaining significant amount of ethylene oxide in food products.
Excessive use of ethylene oxide has adverse effects on food products, not only failing to prevent early spoilage but also causing it. Furthermore, its consumption by humans can lead to cancer.
Conclusion: In the food industry, the use of gases to preserve food is common. However, recent research shows that this practice not only fails to prevent spoilage and waste but can also lead to early spoilage in food products.