Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Features Production Research
Gas packing – Gas analysis reduces complaints


March 31, 2008
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

Technical gases have brought many
advantages to the food industry. Consumers benefit, as foods packed in
a protective atmosphere remain fresh and tasty for longer.

Technical gases have brought many advantages to the food industry. Consumers benefit, as foods packed in a protective atmosphere remain fresh and tasty for longer. However, as quality has increased, so have the demands; if irregularities are detected, it is common for an entire batch to be rejected. Gas analysis equipment helps to minimize this risk.

Despite the use of modern gas mixing systems, human operating errors and technical problems with gas supplies and packaging machines can never be totally ruled out. Unfortunately, the human eye may not detect these problems. An important factor is to constantly maintain optimum dosing. Imbalance in the gas mixture can result in changes to the taste, colour, texture and shape of the packaging. Gas analysis equipment creates certainty in this area and is available from gas technology specialists as portable hand-held units or compact tabletop models.

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With their compact dimensions, there is enough space for the tabletop units almost anywhere in production. They measure the concentrations of the two important gases; oxygen (O2) and/or carbon dioxide (CO2). In some models, the values detected appear digitally in real time on the large LCD display and, if the unit detects that the set limits have been exceeded, it automatically emits an alarm signal and can operate a potential free contact that, as an example, could immediately stop the packaging line and prevent any further quality problems.

Some analyzers can deal with sampling or continuous monitoring. With automatic control, incorrect operation is practically impossible on some models and an integrated memory can store the values of the last measurements. In some cases, the values can be transferred to a software package for quality monitoring via a built-in interface. It may also be possible to connect a printer directly to the unit.

Ultimately, the units need to be simple to operate to ensure that the manual does not need to be consulted every time.