Non-destructive measurement systems for the quality evaluation of packed food is becoming an increasingly important topic, as quality standards of food are constantly increasing, whereas the amount of packed food also rises. On the other hand, sustainability and the reduction of food waste are gaining importance. In Europe, about 88 million tons of food are wasted per year (European Parliament 2017), from which a high proportion are meat or meat products – probably often due to an expired shelf-life or use-by date.
It is known from previous studies that the amount of oxygen decreases in a characteristic way while the amount of carbon dioxide increases upon spoilage of products in high oxygen modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), due to the respiration of the spoilage microorganisms.
This presentation will link these topics by introducing a work using non-destructive measurement systems to evaluate oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations in MAP packages of poultry. The development of the composition of the modified atmosphere during storage could be correlated with microbiological and sensory spoilage. From the results it could be concluded whether the kinetics of the gas concentration can be used for shelf-life prediction. For determination of oxygen concentrations, an optical measurement system based on fluorescence quenching integrated into the food packaging was used. Measurement of carbon dioxide concentrations was done by laser spectroscopy in the infrared. It allows the measurement on different packaging types, without adjustments for geometry and transmittance. During a storage time of 15 days, the gas atmosphere was evaluated continuously, while total viable count and a simultaneous optical and olfactory sensory evaluation by a previously trained sensory panel were performed in parallel.
It will be shown that these novel approaches have the potential to reduce food waste and to improve product quality in retail and industry.
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