The use of controlled atmospheres to preserve food is well established. In the 1930s chilled fresh beef, stored under carbon dioxide, was being shipped from Australia and New Zealand to the UK. However, until comparatively recently such methods were confined to bulk supplies of meat and fruit. In the last decade, fresh food sales in supermarkets have increased considerably, resulting in changes in both distribution methods and the associated storage conditions. Most fresh and many chilled foods are now prepared and packaged in central depots from where they are distributed to the retail outlets. Food must therefore remain ‘fresh’ throughout a longer distribution chain and still allow a reasonable ‘shelf life’ in the retailer’s premises. An increasingly competitive market also demands that supplies are available throughout the week, including Monday morning and Saturday afternoon — periods in the past when shelves became depleted because of possible deterioration over the Sunday closed period. Modified atmosphere packaging offered the possibilities of achieving a significant increase in shelf life without losing the description of ‘fresh food.’


Shelf Life Modify Atmosphere Packaging Mould Growth Water Vapour Transmission Rate Vacuum Packaging 
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© Blackie and Son Ltd 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Inns

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