Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) of fresh meat is one of the most important ways to extend the sell-by date and present the product attractively to the consumer. Carbon dioxide (CO2) serves as a protective gas to inhibit obligate aerobic microorganisms, oxygen (O2) is used to inhibit obligate anaerobic bacteria. Depending on the susceptibility of the product, an appropriate gas composition is chosen. Red meat (e.g. beef) is packaged under a CO2/O2 atmosphere with a high oxygen content (approx. 80%) to ensure the preservation of the red muscle pigment myoglobin. Nowadays, white meat (e.g. poultry) is also often packaged at high oxygen contents, as pathogenic microorganisms such as Campylobacter jejuni are inhibited.
It has been shown that the composition of the protective gas atmosphere varies due to the growth of microorganisms during storage. In order to measure the composition of the protective gas atmosphere in the packaging non-destructively over the storage period, appropriate measuring methods, packaging systems and sensors are being developed which allow an individualised evaluation of the best-before date of MAP fresh meat. Essentially, two measuring methods are being researched for this purpose. Firstly, a sensor spot based on the principle of fluorescence quenching is to be integrated into a packaging system in order to determine the oxygen content in the headspace. Another possibility is laser spectroscopy. For this purpose, a new packaging system has to be developed which allows the use of the measuring method. This should lead to a reduction in the avoidable proportion of discarded and spoiled meat.
The IGF project presented here by the Research Association of the Industrial Association for Food Technology and Packaging (IVLV e.V.) is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy via the AiF as part of the program for the promotion of industrial community research (IGF) based on a decision of the German Bundestag.