Revolutionize Your Package Game with MAP Gas Packaging: The Secret Ingredient for Fresher, Longer-Lasting Products!

Are you familiar with MAP gas packaging?

Despite its name, this handy little tool is anything but simple. It can be a veritable explosion of awesomeness when appropriately utilized!

To help kickstart your plans for revolutionizing your packaging game, let’s look at what this alluring acronym means and how it can enhance the freshness of products and their longevity.

What Does the Science Show?

MAP gas packaging is one of the most powerful packaging components for preserving products. It has been specially formulated for optimal results; its efficacy is unrivaled within its class!

By employing MAP gas packaging as an ingredient for packaging material, you can ensure that your product will stay fresh and potent longer. Research has shown that when this method is employed, it can reduce spoilage by up to 40% – if not more! 

The three leading gases used in MAP packaging are O², CO², and N². The choice of gas is conditional upon the food product being packed. Whether used independently or in combination, these gases are commonly employed to achieve a delicate balance between extending the shelf life of food and preserving its optimal sensory properties. Noble or inert gases like argon are widely utilized in the coffee and snack industry. However, there is a need for more comprehensive literature on the application and advantages of these gases. The practical use of carbon monoxide (CO) and sulfur dioxide (SO²) has also been documented.

Carbon dioxide 

Carbon dioxide is a colorless gas with slightly pungent odors at very high concentrations. It is asphyxiant and slightly corrosive in the presence of moisture. CO² dissolves readily in water (1.57gkg−1 at 100kPa, 20°C) to produce carbonic acid (H²CO³), increasing the solution’s acidity and reducing the pH. This gas is also soluble in lipids and some other organic compounds. 

The solubility of Carbon dioxide rises with lowering temperature. For this cause, the antimicrobial activity of CO² is markedly greater at temperatures below ten °C than at 15°C or higher. This has significant implications for the MAP of foods, as will be discussed later. The high solubility of Carbon dioxide can result in pack collapse due to the reduction of headspace volume. Pack collapse is favored in some MAP applications, such as flow-wrapped cheese for retail sales. 


Oxygen is a colorless, odorless gas that is highly reactive and supports combustion. It includes a low solubility in water (0.040 g kg−1 at 100 kPa, 20°C). 

Oxygen permits many kinds of deteriorative reactions in foods, including fat oxidation, browning reactions, and pigment oxidation. Most of the expected spoilage bacteria and fungi need Oxygen for growth. 

Therefore, to increase the shelf life of foods, the pack atmosphere should include a low concentration of residual O². It should be noted that in some foods, a low concentration of O² can result in quality and safety problems (for example, unfavorable color changes in red meat pigments, senescence in fruits and vegetables, and development of food poisoning bacteria), and this must be taken into chronology when choosing the gaseous composition for a packaged food. 


Nitrogen (N²) is a relatively unreactive gas with no odor, taste, or color. It has a lower density than air, is non-flammable, and has low solubility in water (0.018 g kg−1 at 100 kPa, 20°C) and other food constituents. Nitrogen does not keep the growth of aerobic microbes and therefore interferes with the growth of aerobic spoilage but does not prevent the development of anaerobic bacteria. The low solubility of N2 in foods can be used to bypass pack collapse by having sufficient Nitrogen in the gas mix to balance the volume reduction due to CO2 going into the solution. 

Carbon monoxide 

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas. It is highly reactive and flammable. While it has low solubility in water, it is relatively soluble in certain organic solvents. CO has been extensively researched in the context of meat packaging and approved for use in the USA to prevent browning in packed lettuce. However, its commercial application has been restricted due to its toxicity and the potential for forming explosive mixtures with air.

Noble gases 

Noble gases are a family of elements indicated by their absence of reactivity, including helium, argon, xenon, and neon. These gases are used in several food applications, e.g., potato-based snack products. From a scientific perspective, it is challenging to see how using noble gases would offer preservation advantages compared with N2; they are nevertheless being used. 

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