Nitrogen gas is essential for the food packaging industry, as it increases the shelf life of packaged food products. The presence of oxygen in a package can lead to mold growth and spoiling before its use-by or expiration date. By removing the existing oxygen and replacing it with nitrogen, the food will remain fresh and safe to eat for a longer period of time.
Which Foods Are Packaged with Nitrogen Gas?
Modified atmosphere packaging is extremely common in the food industry. It is the process of removing the oxygen from a package and replacing it with nitrogen gas. A good rule of thumb is that if the food is packaged in an air-tight container, there’s a good chance the gas inside is nitrogen rather than normal atmospheric air.
The following foods are typically packaged with nitrogen gas:
- Chips, Popcorn, Nuts, and Other Snack Foods
- Fresh Meat
- Prepackaged Lunch Meat
- Salad Mixes and Bags of Lettuce
- Pre-cut Apples and Carrot Sticks
- Bacon, Smoked Sausage, and Kielbasa
- Wine Bottles
- Emergency Food Rations
- Frozen Foods
Nitrogen Gas in Food Packaging
Nitrogen gas is used in food packaging because it preserves the color, flavor, and texture of the product while preventing spoilage and extending the shelf life. In the case of chips and snack foods, the nitrogen gas also provides padding that prevents the products inside from breaking into crumbs. If these same foods were to be packaged with air, they would quickly start to change color, grow mold, and spoil. Therefore, when you see a package of lunchmeat or a container of sliced apples with a broken seal, you should never purchase it. This is also why supermarket employees are required to remove and discard damaged packages.
Vacuum Packing with Nitrogen
Modified atmosphere packaging requires the use of a vacuum. During the packaging process, the food is placed into the container. Then, all of the oxygen is removed using the vacuum. The package is then filled with nitrogen and immediately sealed. This process is often used for items like chips, popcorn, pretzels, and lunchmeat.
Nitrogen Gas Generators for Food Packaging
Here at On Site Gas, we sell new and used nitrogen gas generators for use in the food industry. You can choose from PSA nitrogen generators, nitrogen membrane generators, nitrogen cylinder filling stations, and custom engineered systems. Our machines have the ability to produce up to 99.999 percent pure nitrogen, which is necessary for preserving moisture laden foods, like sliced and cut vegetables, as well as foods that are meant to sit at room temperature.
To learn more about our nitrogen generator systems for food storage, contact us today.