By: Liz Olensky Modified Atmospheres for Fresh Case Ready Beef Case Ready Case-ready simply describes a package sent from the beef processing facility that requires no repackaging in the store before being placed in the meat case. Case-ready packages contain a USDA inspection mark on the package, which includes the exclusive USDA establishment number assigned to the processor that packaged the beef. Modified Atmosphere Modi?ed atmosphere packages (MAP) house beef products in an environment other than air. Modified atmosphere packages typically are described as rigid plastic trays, which hold the beef product and an absorbent pad, sealed with a clear high-barrier plastic film. Why Modify the Atmosphere? To maintain fresh color and extend shelf-life Packaging Must Haves: Protection against contamination and deterioration Product visibility Label information on display Customer appeal Types Purified Gases Vacuum Packaging Purified Gases For packaging with purified gases, a machine will vacuum residual air from the tray and then flush the tray with a modified atmosphere immediately prior to sealing the package with the clear film. The modified atmospheres typically contain purified gases found in air (oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and/or carbon monoxide) and each gas has a distinct use or purpose. Purpose of Each Gas Nitrogen has no effect on meat color or bacteria growth, but is used as a dilutant allowing other gases to be used in proper ratio. Oxygen is used because it causes the bright red color consumers prefer. Carbon dioxide is used to decrease or prohibit the growth of spoilage bacteria. Carbon monoxide was approved for use in 2002 by the FDA and USDA at a level of 0.4% and works with myoglobin to form a strong bond that creates a red color. Carbon monoxide is approved for use in a gas mixture that does not include oxygen and the result is a decrease in oxidation, which creates a stabilizing effect and increases case-life. Vacuum Packaging Involves the use of a plastic pouch or bag made from materials that provide a strong barrier of protection against abrasion, moisture migration, and gas permeability. Beef cuts are placed inside the plastic pouch which is then placed in a packaging machine that removes the residual air from the pouch and immediately seals the pouch to prevent air from returning to the package. The vacuum-packaged beef is usually placed in hot water for a brief time, which causes the excess edges of the pouch to shrink around the beef cut; improving the appearance and strength of the package. Vacuum Packaging Pro Con The lack of oxygen in the package greatly increases the case-life of vacuum packaged beef because of decreased oxidation. Because oxygen is removed, the beef takes on a purple-brown color; which turns customers away. This type of packaging is reserved for beef cuts that have permanently fixed color, which is a result of cooking or curing. The Best or Most Common Modified Atmosphere The most common modified atmospheres consist of 80% oxygen / 20% carbon dioxide or 0.4% carbon monoxide / 30% carbon dioxide / 69.6% nitrogen. MAP with gas mixtures is the best because it?s the most appealing to customers. References http://www.beefmyths.org/beefmyths/coandbeef/coandbeeffactsheet/ http://www.beefresearch.org/CMDocs/BeefResearch/Beef%20Packaging.pdf http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/50958 http://guelphmercury.blogs.com/fuel/2009/03/using-carbon-monoxide-to-extend-shelf-life.html
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