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Oxygen absorbers in food preservation: a review

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The preservation of packaged food against oxidative degradation is essential to establish and improve food shelf life, customer acceptability, and increase food security. Oxygen absorbers have an important role in the removal of dissolved oxygen, preserving the colour, texture and aroma of different food products, and importantly inhibition of food spoilage microbes. Active packaging technology in food preservation has improved over decades mostly due to the sealing of foods in oxygen impermeable package material and the quality of oxygen absorber. Ferrous iron oxides are the most reliable and commonly used oxygen absorbers within the food industry. Oxygen absorbers have been transformed from sachets of dried iron-powder to simple self-adhesive patches to accommodate any custom size, capacity and application. Oxygen concentration can be effectively lowered to 100 ppm, with applications spanning a wide range of food products and beverages across the world (i.e. bread, meat, fish, fruit, and cheese). Newer molecules that preserve packaged food materials from all forms of degradation are being developed, however oxygen absorbers remain a staple product for the preservation of food and pharmaceutical products to reduce food wastage in developed nations and increased food security in the developing & third world.

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Conflict of interest

Simon Cichello is the managing director and shareholder of Wholesale Group International Pty Ltd, a manufacturer and distributor of oxygen absorbers. He is a member of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology, Nutrition Society of Australia, and American Society for Nutrition. Other oxygen trademarks have been discussed in an equitable manner and it is my belief that the review acts as an academic review of the application of oxygen absorbers in food preservation.

He is also a nutritionist and western herbal medicine practitioner and advocate of a natural, preservative free, whole-foods diet. He is a consultant to over 100 national and international food manufacturers and government agencies (P.R. China) regarding the implementation of oxygen absorbers and desiccants in food, pharmaceuticals products to reduce synthetic preservative use.

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Correspondence to Simon Angelo Cichello.

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Cichello, S.A. Oxygen absorbers in food preservation: a review. J Food Sci Technol 52, 1889–1895 (2015).

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