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Where is MAP Going? A review and future potential of modified atmosphere packaging for meat

McMillin, Kenneth W.
Meat science 2008 v.80 no.1 pp. 43-65
red meat, food packaging, modified atmosphere packaging, meat composition, carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, packaging materials, plastic film, carbon monoxide, permeability, meat quality, color, flavor, drip loss, water holding capacity, cooking quality, microbiological quality
Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is the removal and/or replacement of the atmosphere surrounding the product before sealing in vapor-barrier materials. While technically different, many forms of MAP are also case-ready packaging, where meat is cut and packaged at a centralized location for transport to and display at a retail store. Most of the shelf life properties of meat are extended by use of MAP, but anoxic forms of MAP without carbon monoxide (CO) do not provide bloomed red meat color and MAP with oxygen (O₂) may promote oxidation of lipids and pigments. Advances in plastic materials and equipment have propelled advances in MAP, but other technological and logistical considerations are needed for successful MAP systems for raw chilled fresh meat. Current MAP options of air-permeable overwrapped trays in master packs, low O₂ formats of shrunk film vacuum packaging (VP) or MAP with carbon dioxide (CO₂) and nitrogen (N₂) and their peelable barrier film derivatives, and high O₂ MAP each have advantages and disadvantages. Packaging technology innovations and ingenuity will continue to provide MAP that is consumer oriented, product enhancing, environmentally responsive, and cost effective, but continued research and development by the scientific and industry sectors will be needed.