Nitrogen Generators for Food Packaging
Within the food packaging sector, the use of nitrogen can be applied to a number of different processes. Not only is nitrogen a safe, neutral gas – with a nitrogen generation system, it can be generated from the surrounding air without your facility ever having to worry about changing out expensive, high-pressure cylinders.
Here are just a few ways that nitrogen can be used to produce and preserve the best tasting food and beverage products:
Food packaging facilities often use a technique to displace oxygen from the storage container. This is typically done before the packaging is sealed, making sure that little to no oxygen is trapped in the container.
Nitrogen can also be used to “pad” the contents of a food package to prevent the package from collapsing and damaging the food products within it. Items like crisp packets are often padded with nitrogen to maintain the right level of pressure and keep the crisps from crumbling during transport.
Modified atmosphere packaging is a type of purging process in which the internal composition of a package is altered to improve shelf life. This is normal practice in the food packaging industry, but it is also common in the packaging of pharmaceuticals. This process lowers the amount of oxygen in order to slow the growth of aerobic organisms in conjunction with slowing the oxidation process. The displaced oxygen is very commonly replaced with nitrogen, although carbon dioxide is used in some industries.
Vertical form fill packaging is a specific type of padding process in which a package is created and then inflated with a gas such as nitrogen. In facilities that use assembly line packaging machines, vertical form fill sealing is commonly used to store foods in plastic bag containers. During the final process of vertical form filling, nitrogen is used to inflate the bag. This is helpful in protecting the foods or liquids during transit.
In controlled atmosphere storage, the air composition surrounding the food product is regulated. Additionally, the temperature and humidity levels are controlled to prevent decomposition and enhance the product’s shelf life. The two main products that benefit from controlled atmosphere storage include fresh fruits and dry commodities like grains, oilseed and legumes. The use of nitrogen in this scenario helps control the threat of insects and other pests, which cannot exist indefinitely without the presence of oxygen.
The most effective and economical way to use nitrogen in food packaging is predominately through a nitrogen generator. Instead of having to rely on high-pressure, expensive nitrogen cylinders, a nitrogen generator creates its own supply of nitrogen from the surrounding air. This helps facilities maintain the supply of nitrogen they need to function at optimal levels while also reducing the risk of combustion from other types of gases. Nitrogen’s dry, inert properties have made it a popular choice for food packaging as well as other manufacturing and storage industries.