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Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158

DOI 10.1007/s12393-009-9007-3

Applications of Plastic Films for Modified Atmosphere Packaging

of Fruits and Vegetables: A Review
S. Mangaraj Æ T. K. Goswami Æ P. V. Mahajan

Published online: 15 July 2009

Ó Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Abstract Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) of terephthalate (PET), polyproylene (PP) and polyethylene
fresh produce relies on the modification of atmosphere (PE) for packaging of fresh produce. Polystyrene has also
inside the package achieved by the natural interplay been used but polyvinylidene, polyester and nylon have
between two processes: the respiration rates of the com- such low gas permeabilities that they would be suitable
modity and the permeability of the packaging films. MAP only for commodities with very low respiration rates.
has been a proven technology to meet the consumer’s
demand for more natural and fresh foods, which is Keywords Modified atmosphere packaging 
increasing day by day. Because of its dynamic phenome- Polymeric films  Gas permeation  Film properties 
non, respiration and permeation take place simultaneously, Packaging films
and it is necessary to design the MAP system and select the
matching films to achieve desired atmosphere early and
maintain as long as possible. To meet the desired film Introduction
characteristics for MAP, the different plastic films are
either laminated or coextruded. In this modern world, the The principal roles of food packaging are to protect the
packaging films of required gas transmission properties are food products from outside influences and damage, to
made available through advanced technology. Although the contain the food and to provide consumers with ingredients
MAP industry has an increasing choice of packaging films, and nutritional information [39]. The goal of food pack-
most packs are still constructed from four basic sustainable aging is to contain food in a cost-effective way that satisfies
polymers: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene industry requirements and consumer desires, maintains
food safety and minimizes environmental safety [102].
Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) of commodity
refers to the technique of sealing actively respiring produce
S. Mangaraj  T. K. Goswami (&)
in polymeric film packages to modify the O2 and CO2
Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering, Indian
Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal 721 302, India levels within the package atmosphere. It is often desirable
e-mail: to generate an atmosphere low in O2 and/or high in CO2 to
S. Mangaraj influence the metabolism of the product being packaged
e-mail: and the activity of decay-causing organisms to increase
storability and/or shelf life [16, 37, 63, 69, 81, 118]. In
P. V. Mahajan
addition to atmosphere modification, MAP vastly improves
Department of Process and Chemical Engineering, Faculty of
Science, Engineering and Food Science, University College, moisture retention, which can have a greater influence on
Cork, Ireland preserving quality than O2 and CO2 levels. Furthermore,
e-mail: packaging isolates the product from the external environ-
ment and helps to ensure conditions that, if not sterile, at
S. Mangaraj
Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Nabibagh, Berasia least reduce exposure to pathogens and contaminants [26,
Road, Bhopal, 462038 MP, India 50, 64, 79, 95, 132, 139, 143].

134 Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158

MAP is the replacement of air in a pack with a single The application of polymeric films for MAP are most
gas or mixture of gases, either naturally or artificially. The often found in flexible package structures; they may also be
proportion of each component is fixed when the mixture is used as component in rigid or semi-rigid package struc-
introduced to the package. No further control is exerted tures, for example, as a liner inside a carton or as lidding on
over the initial composition, and the gas composition is a cup or tray. The plastic film used in MAP is low-density
likely to change with time owing to the diffusion of gases polyethylene (LDPE), linear low-density polyethylene
into and out of the product, the permeation of gases into (LLDPE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polypropyl-
and out of the pack, and the effects of product and ene (PP), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyester, i.e. poly-
microbial metabolism [36, 37, 81, 157]. ethylene terephthalate (PET), polyvinylidene chloride
MAP technology, which utilizes only the natural com- (PVDC), polyamide (Nylon) and other suitable films [1, 4,
ponents of air, has achieved public acceptance due to these 23, 28, 41, 43, 46, 49, 67, 81, 82, 86, 92, 98, 102, 105, 120,
two trends. MAP has the advantages that synthetic chem- 129, 135, 137]. Although an increasing choice of packag-
icals are not used, no toxic residue is left, and there is little ing materials is available to the MAP industry, most packs
environmental impact, particularly if the plastic films used are still constructed from four basic polymers: polyvinyl
can be recycled. Recent advances in the design and man- chloride (PVC), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), poly-
ufacture of polymeric films with a wide range of gas-dif- proylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE), for packaging of
fusion characteristics have also stimulated interest in MAP fruits and vegetables [4, 29, 49, 80, 81, 102, 129, 160].
of fresh produce. In addition, the increased availability of Polystyrene has also been used but polyvinylidene, poly-
various absorbers of O2, CO2 [81], water vapour [144] and ester and nylon have such low gas permeabilities that they
C2H4 [18, 62, 78, 139] provides possible additional tools would be suitable only for commodities with very low
for manipulating the microenvironment of MAP. respiration rates. However, perforating the films can
Nearly all products are packaged at some point in their life expand their use to many commodities. Recent advances in
cycle. Plastic films are widely used in packaging, and con- the technology of manufacturing the polymeric films have
tinue to grow in use as more and more applications switch to permitted tailoring films for gas permeabilities needed for
flexible packages such as modified atmosphere packaging some fruits, vegetables and their products. MAP is most
(MAP). In these packages, plastic films may be used alone or commonly used for highly perishable, high-value com-
in combinations to serve the basic packaging functions of modities such as apple, cherry, strawberry, litchi, rasp-
containment, protection, communication and utility in the berry, broccoli, asparagus, mushroom, capsicum, fig and
delivery of quality products to the consumer [67]. for freshly cut (minimally processed) fruits and vegetables
MAP is a dynamic process where respiration of the [37, 61, 80].
product and permeation of gases thorough the packaging
film occurs simultaneously. The composition of the atmo-
sphere within a package results from the interaction of a
Required Characteristics of Plastic Films for MAP
number of factors that include the permeability character-
istics of the package, the respiratory behaviour of the plant
The desirable characteristics of a polymeric film for MAP
material, and the environment [22, 45, 76, 81, 95, 149].
depend on the respiration rate of the produce at the transit
The films making up the package are selected to have
and storage temperature to be used and on the known
specific permeability characteristics, and changes in these
optimum O2 and CO2 concentrations for the produce that
characteristics over time, temperature, and humidity follow
will result in optimum MA conditions with a definite time
known physical laws [1, 49, 95]. The environment can be
period. For most produce, a suitable film must be much
controlled to provide specific conditions. In contrast to
more permeable to CO2 than to O2 [20, 26, 49, 81, 92, 94].
these known and controllable factors are the often
The major factors to be taken into account while selecting
unknown and uncontrollable responses of the plant mate-
the packaging materials are:
rial. The plant specie, cultivar, cultural practices, stage of
development, manner of harvest, tissue type, and posthar- (1) The type of package (i.e. flexible pouch or rigid or
vest handling all contribute and influence the response of semi-rigid lidded tray)
the material to the generated atmosphere. The scope of (2) The barrier properties needed (i.e. permeabilities of
plant responses can be further modified by initial gas flush individual gases and gas ratios when more than one
of the package before sealing and inclusion of chemical gas is used)
treatments to slow unwanted processes or reduce decay. (3) The physical properties of machinability, strength,
Each of these components of the packaging process can be clarity and durability
examined separately to better understand how each con- (4) Integrity of closure (heat sealing), fogging of the
tributes to packaging strategies [70, 78, 119, 168]. film as a result of product respiration

Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158 135

Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE)

(5) Sealing reliability
(6) Water vapour transmission rate
(7) Resistance to chemical degradation Linear low-density polyethylene is also most commonly
(8) Nontoxic and chemically inert used packaging films in packaging industry. The reduction
(9) Printability of density comes about through the use of comonomers that
(10) Commercial suitability with economic feasibility put side groups on the main chain that act like branching in
decreasing crystallinity. LLDPE is also a soft, flexible
material, with a hazy appearance. At equal density and
thickness, LLDPE has higher impact strength, tensile
strength, puncture resistance and elongation than LDPE.
Polymeric Film in Application for MAP Like LDPE; LLDPE has good water vapour barrier prop-
erties, but is a poor barrier to oxygen, carbon dioxide and
Flexible plastic packaging materials comprise nearly 90% many odour and flavour compounds [1, 23, 105]. Since
of the materials used in MAP with paper, paperboard, LLDPE often permits considerable down gauging, it can be
aluminium foil, metal and glass containers accounting for the lowest cost alternative on a per-use basis.
the remainder. This is largely due to the changing con-
sumer demand where convenience, quality, safety and High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
impact on the environment are of prime considerations.
These materials provide a range of permeability to gases High-density polyethylene is a linear addition polymer of
and water vapour together with the necessary package ethylene, produced at temperatures and pressures similar to
integrity needed for MAP (Tables 1, 2). Sometimes the those used for LLDPE, and with only very slight branch-
films are used alone, and often they are used in combina- ing. HDPE films are stiffer than LDPE films, though still
tions that provide the benefits of multiple materials. The flexible, and have poorer transparency. Their water vapour
most commonly used polymeric films for MAP are as barrier is better, as is their gas barrier. However, perme-
follows: ability to oxygen and carbon dioxide is still much too high
for HDPE to be suitable as a barrier for these permeants
[28, 101, 102]. Because of the distinctly cloudy appearance
of HDPE film, a small amount of white pigment is com-
monly added to provide an attractive opaque white film.
Polyolefin is a collective term for polyethylene and poly-
Typical HDPE properties are shown in Table 1.
propylene, the two most widely used plastics in food
packaging industries. Polyethylene and poly propylene
Polypropylene (PP)
both possess a successful combination of properties,
including flexibility, strength, lightness, stability, moisture
Polypropylene is a linear addition polymer of propylene;
and chemical resistance, and easy processibility, and are
resins used in packaging are predominantly isotactic. PP
well suited for recycling and reuse [1, 23, 82, 101, 102].
has the lowest density of the commodity plastics, 0.89–
0.91 g/cm3. Harder and more transparent than polyethyl-
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) ene, PP has good resistance to chemicals and is effective at
baring water vapour. Its high melting point (Table 1)
The simplest and the most inexpensive plastics made by makes it suitable for application where thermal resistance
addition polymerization of ethylene is polyethylene. Low- is required. Barrier properties of PP are comparable to
density polyethylene is the most commonly used packaging those of HDPE [1, 43, 49, 98, 109]. In many applications,
film. LDPE seals at lower and over a wider temperature biaxially oriented film (BOPP) is preferred. BOPP film is
range, and has better hot tack, all of which result, to a great explicitly used in MAP of food commodity.
extent, from its long-chain branching [1, 23, 114, 129].
LDPE is a good barrier to water vapour, but a poor barrier Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
to oxygen, carbon dioxide and many odour and flavour
compounds. Because LDPE is relatively transparent, it is Polyvinyl chloride films are formed by combining PVC
predominantly used in film applications and in applications resin, produced by addition polymerization of vinyl chlo-
where heat sealing is necessary. Some properties and ride, with plasticizers and other additives to produce a
characteristic of LDPE are presented in Tables 1 and 2. flexible film. In general, the films are quite soft and flexi-
LDPE is generally the cheapest plastic film, on a per-unit- ble, easy to heat seal, and have excellent self-cling,
mass basis. toughness, medium strength, excellent resistance to

Table 1 Major packaging films and their typical properties

Property Polyethylene films Polypropylene Polyvinyl Polyethylene Polyvinylidene Ethylene-vinyl Polyamide

chloride terephthalate (PET) chloride (PVDC) alcohol (EVOH)

LDPE LLDPE HDPE PP BOPP Unoriented Oriented General High 32 mol 44 mol % Nylon-6 Nylon-11
purpose barrier % ethylene

Tg (°C) -120 -120 -120 -10 -10 75–105 73–80 73–80 -15 to -15 to 69 55 60 –
?2 ?2
Tm (°C) 105–115 122–124 128–138 160–175 160–175 212 245–265 245–265 160–172 160–172 181 164 210–220 180–190
Th (°C) 40–44 62–91 107–121 57–82 38–129 – – – – – – –
Density (g/cm3) 0.915– 0.915– 0.94–0.97 0.89–0.91 0.89–0.91 1.35–1.41 1.29–1.40 1.40 1.60–1.71 1.73 1.19 1.14 1.13–1.16 1.03–1.05
0.940 0935
Tensile modulus 0.2–0.5 0.6–1.1 1.1–1.5 1.7–2.4 To 4.1 2.8–4.1 – 0.3–0.7 0.9–1.1 2.6 2.1 0.69–1.7 1.3
FT (Mpa) 8–31 20–45 17–45 31–43 120–240 10–55 48–72 220–270 48–100 83–148 77 59 41–165 55–65
Elongation (%) 100–965 350–850 10–1200 500–650 30–150 14–450 30–3,000 70–110 40–100 50–100 230 380 300 300–400
WVTR 375–500 125 100–300 100–125 750– 390–510 440 79 20 1535 724 3,900– 1,000–
15,700 4,300 2,000
PO2 6666–8750 2916–8333 1666– 2083–3916 1541– 154– 50–100 45 13–18 1.3 0.325 1.25 20–42.50 521
3041 2416 10000
PCO2 41662– 15105– 9979– 11706– 8368– 939– 255–510 221 62–86 4.95 10.10 37.50 84–179 2084
54687 43165 18215 22008 13119 61000
PCO2 /PO2 6.25 5.18 5.99 5.62 5.43 6.10 5.10 4.91 4.76 3.81 31.0 30.0 4.21 4.0
10 11 6 8 8 10 5 6 11 12 12 8
PO2 41 9 10 44 9 10 162 9 10 73 9 10 80 9 10 66 9 10 41 9 10 48 9 10 41 9 10 47 9 10 – 49 9 10 34 9 10 31 9 105
9 10 6 7 7 7 5 6 9 10 12 8
PCO2 60 9 10 70 9 10 89 9 10 88 9 10 94 9 10 34 9 10 93 9 10 97 9 10 57 9 10 64 9 10 – 62 9 10 44 9 10 39 9 105
EOP 2 35.1 37.4 43.1 39.5 38.3 40.5 56.80 60.4 66.50 73.2 – – 43.50 47.60
30.3 31.6 34.3 32.7 33.9 30.5 40.4 42.8 51.50 56.7 – – 40.50 42.40
Q10 2 1.96 1.84 1.73 1.81 1.77 1.78 1.52 1.50 2.82 2.87 – – 1.97 –
Q10 2 1.71 1.65 1.60 1.62 1.58 1.54 1.50 1.47 2.23 2.26 – – 1.88 –
Tg: Glass transition temperature (°C)
Tm: Melting temperature (°C)
Th: Heat distortion temperature, at 455 kPa (°C)
FT: Tensile strength (Mpa)
WVTR: Water vapour transmission rate at 37.8°C and 90% RH (g lm/m2 day)
PO2 and PCO2 : permeability at 25°C for O2 and CO2, respectively (cm3 lm/m2-h-atm)
PPO2 and PPCO2 : Pre-exponential factor of film for O2 and CO2, respectively (cm3 lm/m2-h-atm)
EOP 2 and ECO 2
: Permeability activation energy of films for O2 and CO2, respectively (kJ/mole)
Q10 and Q10 2 : Permeability quotients for 10°C rise in temperature of films for O2 and CO2, respectively
Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158
Table 2 Properties, environmental issue and other properties of plastic films for MAP
Type of films Product characteristics/food compatibility Consumer and marketing issues Environmental issues Cost
Advantages Disadvantages Advantages Disadvantages Advantages Disadvantages

LDPE i. Soft, flexible and strong material – i. Light weight i. Slight haze or i. Recyclable i. Easily recycled in semi- Low cost
ii. Good moisture barrier translucency rigid form but
identification and
iii. Resistance to chemicals
separation more difficult
iv. Heat sealable and easy to seal for films
v. Relatively transparent and predominantly used in
Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158

film application
vi. High ratio of CO2 to O2 permeability
vii. Can be laminated and coextruded
LLDPE i. Soft, flexible and strong material i. Not suitable for i. Light weight i. Slight hazy i. Recyclable i. Easily recycled in semi- Low cost
ii. Better impact strength, tear resistance and higher applications appearance rigid form but
tensile strength and elongation, better resistance to involving identification and
environmental stress cracking, and better puncture significant separation more difficult
resistance exposure to heat. for films
iii. Good moisture barrier
iv. Good grease resistance and inert.
v. Good low-temperature performance
HDPE i. Flexible, strong and tough i. Poor clarity i. Light weight i. Slight haze or i. Recyclable i. Easily recycled in semi- Low cost
ii. Higher softening point than LDPE and superior translucency rigid form but
barrier properties iii. Resistance to chemicals and identification and
moisture separation more difficult
for films
iv. Permeable to gases
v. Easy to process and easy to form
Polypropylene i. Stronger, denser and more transparent than – i. Light weight – i. Recyclable i. Easily recycled in semi- Low cost
(BOPP) polyethylene ii. High clarity, rigid form but
ii. Moderate gas barrier and good water vapour strength and identification and
barrier (high gas barrier and moisture vapour durability as separation more difficult
barrier than polyethylene) compared to for films
iii. Good resistance to chemicals LDPE
iv. Excellent grease resistance
v. Favourable response to heat sealing
Polyesters i. Excellent transparency and mechanical properties – i. Light weight – Recyclable i. Easily recycled in semi- Inexpensive
(PET/PEN) ii. Good/adequate barrier to gases and moisture and ii. High clarity/ rigid form but but higher
specially odours and flavours glass-like identification and cost among
transparency separation more difficult plastics
iii. Good resistance to chemical degradation, heat,
for films
mineral oil, solvents and acids. iii. Shatter

Table 2 continued

Type of films Product characteristics/food compatibility Consumer and marketing issues Environmental issues Cost

Advantages Disadvantages Advantages Disadvantages Advantages Disadvantages

Polyvinyl i. Strong and transparent – i. High clarity – Recyclable i. Contains Inexpensive

chloride ii. Good gas barrier and chlorine
(PVC) moderated barrier to ii. Requires
moisture vapour separating from
iii. Excellent resistance to other waste
chemicals, oils/fats and
grease etc.
iv. Largely used as packaging
Polyvinylidene i. High barrier to gases and i. High gas barrier i. Maintains product quality – Recyclable i. Contains Inexpensive but higher
chloride water vapour chlorine cost among plastics
(PVdC) ii. Heat sealable ii. Requires
iii. Also used in hot filling, separating from
retorting, low-temperature other waste
storage, etc.
Polystyrene i. High tensile strength and i. Poor barrier to i. Good clarity – Recyclable i. Requires Inexpensive
excellent transparency moisture vapour separating from
ii. Used for produce where a and gases other waste
‘breathable’ film is required
Polyamide i. Strong Poor water vapour – – Recyclable i. Requires Relatively costly but
(nylon-6) ii. Reasonably good oxygen barrier separating from inexpensive when used
barrier other waste as thin films
iii Excellent odour and flavour
iv. Good chemical resistance
iv. Mechanical and thermal
properties similar to PET
v. Excellent high-temp.
Ethylene-vinyl i. Excellent barrier to gases, i. Low moisture i. Maintains product quality for – Recyclable i. Requires Inexpensive when used as
alcohol especially to oxygen, odour barrier/moisture- oxygen-sensitive products separating from thin films
(EVOH) and flavour sensitive other waste
ii. Often used as O2 barrier
Ethylene-Vinyl i. Excellent transparency i. Poor gas barrier i. Excellent clarity – Recyclable i. Requires Inexpensive
Acetate ii. Very good heat seal ii. Poor moisture ii. Mainly used as component of the separating from
(EVA) barrier sealant layer and adhesive in other waste
iii. Very good adhesive
properties multilayer films
Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158
Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158 139

chemical, resilience and clarity. Permeability is relatively

high [4, 25, 49, 81, 105]. Both oriented and unoriented

Relatively expensive but cost-

films are available. Properties of PVC films are listed in

effective for purpose.

Tables 1 and 2.
Relatively expensive


Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polycarbonate and

polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) are polyesters, which are

condensation polymers formed from ester monomers that

result from the reaction between carboxylic acid and
alcohol. The most commonly used polyester in food
i. Requires separating
from other waste

packaging is PET [1, 81, 101].

Layer separation is

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)

Environmental issues

PET is commonly used in biaxially oriented form and has

excellent transparency and mechanical properties. PET
provides a good barrier to gases (O2 and CO2), moisture
Often allows
for source


and especially to odours and flavours. The barrier proper-

ties can be enhanced by coating with PVDC. Coating or
coextrusion is often used to provide good heat seal prop-
erties. It can tolerate considerably higher temperatures for

short periods, such as in dual ovenable packaging for fro-

zen foods. The main reasons for its popularity in food
packaging industry are its glass-like transparency, adequate
Consumer and marketing issues

gas barrier properties, light weight and shatter resistance

[1, 56, 84, 160]. Typical PET properties are listed in

Tables 1 and 2.
Flexible in design and
Suitable for MAP of

fresh produce

Polyvinylidene Chloride (PVDC)

Disadvantages Advantages

Polyvinylidene chloride is an addition polymer of vinyli-

dene chloride. It is heat sealable and serves as an excellent
barrier to oxygen, water vapour, odours and flavours [66,
81, 101]. The PVDC copolymer can be heat sealed and has
excellent barrier to gases. However, the best barrier films
Product characteristics/food compatibility

generally do not provide the best heat seal capability, and

vice versa, so when both heat sealability and barrier are

i. Properties can be tailored for –

desired, sometimes two differently formulated PVDC

Biodegradable hydrolysable

copolymer coatings are applied. The major applications of

PVDC include packaging of poultry, cured meats, cheese,
snacks food, tea, coffee, confectionary and MAP of food
product needs

Ethylene-Vinyl Alcohol (EVOH)

Ethylene-vinyl alcohol is a copolymer of ethylene and

Table 2 continued

vinyl alcohol. The presence of –OH groups in the structure

Type of films

results in strong intermolecular hydrogen bonding. EVOH



is an excellent barrier to gases (especially O2), odours and


flavours. However, the hydrogen bonds also make it a

moisture-sensitive material, and high humidity decreases

140 Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158

its barrier capability [101, 102]. EVOH is most often used Ionomers
as an oxygen barrier. Typical EVOH properties are listed in
Table 1. The heat seal performance of ionomers is outstanding.
Ionomer films have excellent clarity, flexibility, strength
Polyamide (Nylon) and toughness which make them suitable for MAP of
commodities. They can be used to package sharp objects,
Nylon films are used for specialty applications in packag- which break through many alternative materials when
ing, where performance requirements justify their rela- subject to vibration during distribution. Ionomers have
tively high cost. Nylons have mechanical (excellent relatively poor gas barrier and tend to absorb water readily.
strength) and thermal properties (high-temperature perfor- They have also relatively high cost compared to films such
mance) similar to PET and have similar usefulness. Nylons as ethylene-vinyl acetate [105].
also provide excellent odour and flavour barrier, and rea-
sonably good oxygen barrier [43, 81]. They are very poor Polycarbonate Films
water vapour barriers, and generally have a tendency to
lose some barrier performance when exposed to large Polycarbonate films have excellent transparency, toughness
amounts of moisture. However, their performance is not as and heat resistance, but high cost. They have some use in
water-sensitive as EVOH. Owing to their relatively high skin packaging, food packaging where exposure to high
cost, they are often coextruded with other plastics. Typical temperatures for in-bag preparation is required, and med-
properties of some nylon films are given in Table 1. Nylon- ical packaging.
6 tends to be the most used nylon packaging film in
industry. Polystyrene

Polystyrene is another thermoplastic film with excellent

Polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE) transparency, with a high tensile strength but a poor barrier
to moisture vapour and gases [1, 19, 81, 116]. It is often
These films are considered the best available transparent used in window envelopes and window cartons. Because of
moisture barriers for flexible packaging; however, they are its low gas barrier, it can be used for produce where a
rather expensive. Aclar films can be laminated to paper, ‘breathable’ film is required. Polystyrene alone is brittle,
polyethylene, aluminium foil or other substrates. The film but it can be blended or generally biaxially oriented to get
is heat sealable, and can be thermoformed. Aclar blister required properties. In heavier gauges, polystyrene is
packages are often used for unit packages for highly widely used for transparent thermoformed trays.
moisture-sensitive pharmaceuticals [67].
Cellulose-Based Plastics
Polyvinyl Alcohol (PVOH)
Cellulose-based plastics such as cellulose acetate, cellulose
Polyvinyl alcohol polymers are produced by hydrolysis of butyrate, cellulose propionate and copolymers are also used
polyvinyl acetate. Because PVOH degrades at temperatures to a relatively small extent, most often as sheet rather than
well below melt, it cannot be processed by extrusion. film. Their high price and water sensitivity limit their
Therefore, casting from a water solution is used to make usefulness [116].
the film. As produced, the film is amorphous, but orienta-
tion induces some crystallinity [113]. Biodegradable Polymers

Biodegradable polymers are derived from replenishable

Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) agricultural feedstocks, animal sources, marine food pro-
cessing industry wastes, or microbial sources. Biodegrad-
Ethylene-vinyl acetate is produced by addition copolymer- able polymers are made from cellulose and starches [107].
ization of ethylene and vinyl acetate. EVA has higher per- Cellophane is the most common cellulose-based biopoly-
meability to water vapour and gases (in comparison to mer. Starch-based polymers include amylose, hydroxyl-
LDPE). These films have excellent transparency, and pro- propylated starch and dextrin. Other starch-based polymers
vide very good heat seal and adhesive properties, with are polylactides (PLA), polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA),
excellent toughness at low temperatures. In both lidding and polyhydroxybuterate (PHB), and a copolymer PHB and
base films, they are mainly used as a component of the valeric acids (PHB/V). Made from lactic acid formed from
sealant layer [141]. microbial fermentation of starch derivatives, polylactide

Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158 141

does not degrade when exposed to moisture [10, 102, 146] are used. When plastic films are involved, either as a
(Table 2). In addition, biodegradable films can also be substrate or as an element in the finished structure, the
formed from chitosan, which is derived from the chitin of laminating adhesive is often a low-density polyethylene,
crustacean and insect exoskeletons. Chitin is a biopolymer applied by extrusion, and the process is known as extrusion
with a chemical structure similar to cellulose [155]. laminating. When paper is contained in a flexible package,
Edible films, thin layer of edible materials applied to it is most often being used for its excellent printability,
food as a coating or placed on or between food compo- along with its ability to impart substance and strength.
nents, are another form of biodegradable polymer. They Another significant use of lamination is to produce a web
serve several purposes, including inhibiting the migration with buried printing.
of moisture, gases and aromas and improving the food’s
mechanical integrity or handling characteristics, aimed to
achieve MAP conditions [102]. At present, bioplastics are
more expensive than petroleum-based polymers, so sub-
Coextrusion results in the production of a multiplayer web
stitution would likely result in increased packaging cost.
without requiring initial production of individual webs and
Commercialization of bioplastics is underway. Polylactide
a separate combining step. The melted polymers are fed
are commercially produced from natural products (corn
together carefully to produce a layered melt, which is then
sugar). After the original use, the polymer can be hydro-
processed in conventional ways to produce a plastic film or
lysed to recover lactic acid, thereby approaching the
sheet. When only plastics are being used in a flexible
cradle-to-cradle objective (that is, imposing zero impact on
packaging structure, coextrusion is generally preferred to
future generation). In addition, Wal-Mart Inc uses bio-
lamination, unless buried printing is involved. A major
polymers by employing polylactide to package fresh and
advantage of coextrusion over lamination is its ability to
cut produce [15, 102].
incorporate very thin layers of a material, much thinner
than those that can be produced as a single web. This is
particularly important for expensive substrates, such as
Multilayer Plastic Films
those often used to impart barrier properties. The amount
of the expensive barrier resin used need only be enough to
In many cases, the best combination of packaging attributes
provide the desired performance [1]. The thinness of the
at the lowest cost is achieved by using a combination of
layer is not limited by the need to produce an unsupported
materials. Therefore, plastic packaging films are often
film and handle it in a subsequent lamination step.
combined with one another or with other materials such as
paper or aluminium through processes such as coating,
lamination, coextrusion and metallization. Metallization

Coating Metallization is a way of applying a thin metal layer on a

plastic film. In commercial packaging practice, the metal
Coating is commonly used to add a thin layer of a plastic being deposited is almost always aluminium. Metallized
on the surface of another plastic film or, more commonly, films have significantly enhanced barrier characteristics,
on a non-plastic substrate such as paper, cellophane or foil. and are usually chosen for this reason. In addition to gas
The coating may be applied as a solution, a suspension or a barrier, metallized film provides an essentially total light
melt. Common reasons for using coating in flexible pack- barrier [67].
aging are: to impart heat sealability for plastics that are not
heat sealed easily; to provide moisture protection for paper Barriers and Permeation
or cellophane; to improve barrier properties; and to provide
protection from direct contact of the base material with the The mechanism by which substances travel through an
product [12, 13, 22, 149]. PVDC copolymer coatings are intact plastic film is known as permeation. It involves
often used to improve barrier and heat sealability. dissolution of the penetrating substance, the permeant, in
the plastic, followed by diffusion of the permeant through
Lamination the film, and finally by evaporation of the permeant on the
other side of the film, all driven by a partial pressure dif-
Lamination is the process of combining two webs of film ferential for the permeant between the two sides of the film
together [102, 129]. In flexible packaging applications, [82, 87, 105, 115, 127, 129].
lamination is often used to combine a plastic film with The barrier performance of the film is generally
another film, paper or foil. A variety of lamination methods expressed in terms of its permeability coefficient or

142 Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158

permeability. For one-dimensional steady-state mass oc
transfer, the permeability coefficient is related to the J ¼ D ð2Þ
quantity of permeant, which is transferred through the film
as represented by the equation: The flux, J, is the volume of substance diffusing across
unit area in unit time, independent of the state of
P¼ ð1Þ aggregation of the polymer. This first law is applicable to
diffusion in the steady state, that is, where concentration is
where P is the permeability coefficient, Q is the amount of not varying with time.
permeant passing through the material, x is the thickness of The change in concentration with the time at a distance x
the plastic film, A is the surface area available for mass into a thin film sheet, where the flux is in the x direction
transfer, t is the time, and Dp is the change in permeant alone, is given by
partial pressure across the film. oc oJX
Hence the permeability coefficient (P) is the propor- ¼ ð3Þ
ox ox
tionality constant between the flow of the penetrant gas
per unit film area per unit time and the driving force Substituting the values of Eq. 2 in Eq. 3 we have
(partial pressure difference) per unit film thickness. The oc o oc
¼ D ð4Þ
amount of gas penetrating through the film is expressed in ox ox ox
terms of either moles per unit time (flux) or weight or
volume of the gas at STP. Commonly, it is expressed in If D is independent of concentration then Eq. 4 can be
terms of volume. written as
It can be shown that the permeability coefficient (P), as oc o c
¼D ð5Þ
defined by Eq. 1, is equal to the product of the Fick’s law’s ox ox2
diffusion coefficient, D, and the Henry’s law’s solubility
coefficient, S (P = DS), in situations where these laws The permeability coefficient, P, concerns the steady-
adequately represent mass transfer (ideally dilute solutions, state flux, J, of gas passing through the polymer and the
diffusion independent of concentration): The permeability pressure difference across it, which gives the driving force:
p  p 
coefficient, under these circumstances, is a function of J¼P
1 2
temperature, but is not a function of film thickness or x
permeant concentration. where p1 and p2 are the partial pressures on opposite sides
of a film of thickness x. P is expressed in cm3 of gas at STP
Concept and Theoretical Approach per cm2 of film, unit cm of film thickness per second for a
pressure difference of 1 atm.
Gases and vapours can permeate through materials by The solubility, S, is defined as the amount of dissolved
macroscopic or microscopic pores and pinholes or they gas in the polymer divided by the volume of the sample for
may diffuse by a molecular mechanism, known as activated 1 atm of gas on the sample surface
diffusion. In activated diffusion, the gas is considered to
ðc1  c2 Þ ¼ Sðp1  p2 Þ;
dissolve in the film at one surface, to diffuse through the
film by virtue of concentration gradient, and to reevaporate When p2 % 0, c2 % 0 then the above equation can be
at the other surface of the packaging film. The equilibrium written as
and kinetics considerations governing mass transfer are c1 ¼ Sp1 and when p1 ¼ 1 atm ð7Þ
applicable here as well.
The gas transport properties through polymers can be S¼
described by three parameters, the diffusion coefficient, the p1
permeability coefficient, and the solubility. These terms are where c1 is the concentration in the sample when the
interrelated although the precise nature of the correlation is equilibrium is reached. Equation 6 obeys Henry’s law
dependant on the type of diffusion that occurs. Generally when S is independent of p, and hence Eqs. 2, 6 and 7 can
the Fickian diffusion process is considered for gas transport be combined and written as
in polymer.
P ¼ DS ð8Þ
The diffusion is the speed with which a gas molecule
penetrates through the polymer. The diffusion coefficient D The solubility S is expressed in cm3 of gas at STP per
is based on Fick’s first law of diffusion. It states that the cm3 of the solid at a pressure of 1 atm. (cm3 STP/cm3 atm).
flux J in the x direction is proportional to the concentration The diffusivity or diffusion coefficient D is expressed as
gradient ðoc=oxÞ: the diffusion of penetrants in cm2 across the film at STP per

Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158 143

sec (cm2/s). P is expressed in cm3 of gas at STP per cm2 of the Dp remains essentially constant and the permeability
film, unit cm of film thickness per second for a pressure coefficient can be calculated as follows:
difference of 1 atm (cm3 STP-cm/cm2 s atm).        
DpL VL 273 Dx
P ¼    ð9Þ
Dt 760 T A
Gas Permeation or Gas Transmission
where P is the permeability coefficient (cm3-mm/
Conceptually, gas permeability coefficient is the same as cm2 s cm Hg), PH is the pressure introduced at the high
gas transmission rate. The GTR is defined as the volume of side, PL is low-side pressure, DpL/Dt is the steady gas
gas that passes through a sample of unit area under unit pressure increment in the low-side pressure and is obtained
pressure differential, at a given temperature and film from the slope of the increments of low-side pressure
thickness, with the rate being determined after the gradient versus time plot, VL is the calibrated volume of low-side
of the recorded volume–time curve becomes constant. The pressure of the cell, x is the thickness of the film and A is
gas transmission rate is usually expressed for total thick- the effective permeation area.
ness of the film while gas permeability is expressed on the Banerjee et al. [11] measured the gas permeability of
basis of per unit film thickness. For composite films, it is films using a laboratory-made high-vacuum apparatus with
more appropriate to use gas transmission rate values since static permeation cell at 1 atm for different temperatures.
permeation in composite films does not vary linearly with The polymer film was degassed for 24 h within the per-
film thickness, usually. For some single material (polymer) meation cell prior to the experiment. To start the mea-
films also, the relationship is not linear either. In such cases surement, desired gas pressure (Pi = 1 bar) was applied
extrapolation may be erroneous [90, 115]. instantaneously to the pressure side of the film. On the
downstream side, a reservoir of constant volume was
Measurement of Gas Permeability connected with a pressure transducer, so that the total
amount of gas that passed the polymer film could be
There are many methods for measuring permeability of monitored. The time-lag method was employed for the gas
gases and it is not possible to review them in detail here. transport measurements. This technique allows the deter-
Two major types of methods used for the measurement of mination of the mean permeability coefficient P from the
gas transmission rates are as follows [11, 82, 129]: steady-state gas pressure increment (dp/dt)s in the cali-
brated volume V of the product side of the cell. The per-
Pressure-Increase Method/Differential Pressure Principle meability coefficient is reported in barrier and was
calculated from Eq. 10
The principle involved is that the test specimen is placed    
dp V T0 x
between the upper and lower chambers and clamped P ¼    ð10Þ
dt S P0 Pi T A
tightly. The lower pressure chamber (lower chamber) is
vacuumized first and then the whole system. When the where P is the permeability coefficient in barrier (cm3-cm/
specified degree of vacuum is reached, the lower test cm2 s cm Hg), dp/dt is the steady-state gas pressure
chamber is shut off and feeds test gas of certain pressure to increment in the calibrated volume V of the cell and is
the upper test chamber (high-pressure chamber). It is obtained from the slope of the increments of downstream
ensured that a constant differential pressure (adjusted) is pressure versus time plot, V is the calibrated volume of the
maintained across the specimen. Hence under the gradient product side of the cell in cm3, T0 is the standard temper-
of differential pressure the test gas permeates from the ature = 273.15 K, P0 is the standard pressure = 1.013
high-pressure side to the low-pressure side. By monitoring bars, Pi is the upstream side pressure (desired gas pressure
and measuring the pressure in the low-pressure side, the to be applied at the high-pressure side of the film, i.e.
various barrier parameters (permeability coefficient) of the 1 bar), T is the temperature of measurement in K, x is the
tested specimen are calculated [89] thickness of the film in cm and A is the effective perme-
Karel et al. [82] reported that in pressure-increase ation area in cm2.
method a membrane is mounted between the high-pressure Laffin et al. [90] measured gas permeability of LDPE/
and the low-pressure sides of a permeability cell. In this LLDPE films under controlled conditions of pressure,
method, both sides are evacuated and the membrane is temperature and relative humidity. The test consisted of
degassed. Then, at zero time a known constant pressure PH placing the film sample between a partition test cell and an
of the test gas is introduced on the high side, and PL (low- evacuated manometer, with the pressure across the film at 1
side pressure) is measured as a function of time. If the atmosphere. As the gas passes through the film sample, the
measurement is continued only as long as PH (high-side mercury in the capillary of the manometer is depressed.
pressure) remains much larger than PL (low-side pressure), After a constant transmission rate was achieved, a plot of

144 Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158

mercury height against time gave a constant gradient. The dQ 1

¼ Pwv Aðp2  p1 Þ ð13Þ
slope of the gradient was then used to calculate the gas dt x
transmission rates. The quantity of gas passing through the
where Q is the mass of permeant (water vapour) passing
film is directly proportional to the difference in gas pres-
through the material in g, p1 and p2 are the partial pressures
sure on either side of the film and inversely proportional to
of water vapour outside and inside the package, respec-
the thickness of the film. In addition, it is directly pro-
tively, in pa and p2 is a function of Q.
portional to the time during which permeation has occurred
The principle involved is that saturated water vapour
and to the exposed area of the sample [82, 127]. Hence,
transmits through the test specimen in a unit time under
Atðp1  p2 Þ specified conditions of temperature and humidity. The
Qa ð11Þ
x transmitted mass is determined by measuring the decreas-
PAtðp1  p2 Þ ing weight of distilled water with time.
Q ¼ ð12Þ In a desiccant system of measurement, silica gel is used
as the desiccant and it is directly placed inside the film
where Q is the quantity of gas which passes through the
pouch whose Pwv is measured under controlled conditions
film, A is the surface area in contact with the gas, t is the
of 38°C temperature and 90% relative humidity. Water
time, p1 - p2 is the partial pressure differential and x is the
vapour permeability is computed from the measured values
thickness of film.
of the change in weights of the packages with time,
employing the following equations [75]
(2) Concentration-Increase Method/Equal Pressure    
Principle Pwv dw 1
¼  ð14Þ
x dt A:p
The test principle is that high oxygen flows on one side of where Pwv is the water vapour permeability of packaging
the film and high pure nitrogen flows on the other side of film (g-mm/m2 day pa), dw/dt is the weight gain by des-
the film. Oxygen molecule passes the film into the iccant with time and is obtained from the slope of the
nitrogen on the other side, and is taken to the sensor by increments of weight versus time plot, t is the time in days,
the flowing nitrogen. The transmission of oxygen is tested w is the weight gain by desiccant in g, x is the thickness of
by analysing the concentration of oxygen detected by the film in mm, A is the area of the package in m2 and p is
sensor. As for the packaging container, nitrogen flows in the water vapour pressure at 38°C in Pa.
the container, and air or high pure oxygen covers the
outside of the container.
In most cases, GTR has been measured employing Effect of Temperature on Permeability
pressure gradient method (Dp = 1 atm.). Normally, in
MAP packages the pressure gradient of 1 atm. between the The permeability of O2 and CO2 in polymeric films is
internal atmosphere of the packages and the external temperature dependent and this dependence is commonly
atmospheres is a rare possibility. Certain degree of flexi- described by an exponential equation (Arrhenius-type
bility in package free volume and the presence of a pres- equations) [49, 163]. The relationship of O2 permeability
sure balancing gas, viz. N2, help in maintaining low and CO2 permeability with temperature can be depicted by
pressure gradient without causing considerable variation in this model. The generalized form and the specific form
concentration gradient. Hence the concentration-increase (permeability to O2 and CO2) of the Arrhenius equations
or concentration gradient method facilitates close simula- are as follows.
tion of the conditions under which gas transmission takes  P
place in MAP [129, 163]. Ea
P ¼ PP exp ð15Þ
Water Vapour Permeability and EaP ¼ HS þ ED ; HS ¼ Hc þ Hm

It is also important to calculate the water vapour trans- where HS is the apparent heat of solution, ED is the acti-
mission rate of the packaging system. In this case, the vation energy for diffusion, HC is the heat of condensation,
partial pressure difference for water vapour between the Hm is the heat of mixing, P is the permeability of gas at
inside and the outside of the package is almost never temperature T, PP is the permeability pre-exponential fac-
constant. Simplifying Eq. 1 the rate of moisture gain or tor for gas, EPa is the activation energy of permeation for
loss in the product is given by the resulting differential gas, R is the universal gas constant and T is the absolute
equation as follows [1]: temperature.

Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158 145

When permeability coefficients are not available at the x

Pt ¼ t  ð18Þ
temperature of interest, an Arrhenius relationship can be Ri¼n xi=
i¼1 Pi
used to determine the required value, from the permeability
coefficient at a nearby temperature and the activation where the subscript t indicates the value for the total
energy. The following equation is used: structure, i indicates the value for an individual layer, and
    there are n layers in the structure.
Ea 1 1
P2 ¼ P1 exp  ð16Þ When two films are combined to form the film laminate,
R T1 T2
Eq. 18 can be expressed as follows [82]:
where T1 is the temperature at which P1 is known, T2 is the 1 x1 x2
temperature at which P2 is to be calculated, Ea is the ¼ þ ð19Þ
Pla ð x P1 Þ ð x P2 Þ
activation energy and R is the gas constant.
The permeability coefficient, as indicated, is a product where Pla is the permeability of film laminate (cm3/
of the diffusion coefficient and the Henry’s law solubility m2 h atm), P1 and P2, are the permeabilities of individual
constant. Since these vary in different ways with temper- films, i.e. film1 and film2, respectively; x1 and x2 are the
ature, Eqs. 15 and 16 are valid only over reasonably small thicknesses of individual films, and x is the thickness of the
temperature ranges. A particular concern is that permeation film laminate.
rates are much higher above the Tg than below this tem-
perature, and the rate of change with temperature differs. Effect of Sub-zero Temperature on Permeability
Generally, the above equations would accurately charac-
terize a polymer’s gas diffusivity/temperature behaviour, Lambden et al. [91] investigated the effect of sub-zero
except where there are strong interactions between the temperatures on OTR of packaging films. They inferred
polymer and the gas molecules (e.g. water vapour and that around 0°C, a small variation in temperature greatly
hydrophilic polymers). In addition, the above equations alters the permeabilities and thus their prediction is not
would only predict the effect of temperature above the gas possible with Arrhenius relationship.
transition temperature (Tg), since most films show a dis-
continuity of diffusion at the transition. At or below Tg, the Influence of Polymer Structure and Morphology
polymer conformation is set and rotational movements on Permeability
responsible for diffusional properties are blocked. There-
fore, Eq. 15 should never be used to calculate the perme- Salame [137] correlated polymer structure and morphology
ability coefficient across a temperature range that spans Tg with gas permeability. Based on cohesive energy density
of the plastic. and fractional free volume of the polymer, he derived
numerical scale of ‘permachor’ values (p) to predict gas
permeability for non-interacting polymer-penetrant sys-
Temperature Quotient for Permeability
tems as given below:
The influence of temperature on permeability of polymeric P ¼ ðA=TO ÞeSp ð20Þ
films was quantified with the QP10 value, which is the per-
where A and S are constants and T0 is the tartuosity (ori-
meability increase for a 10°C rise in temperature and is
ented crystalline polymers)
given by the following equation:
 10=ðT2 T1 Þ
P P2 Packaging System in MAP
Q10 ¼ ð17Þ
The polymeric films used for MAP are of three types: (i)
where QP10 is the temperature quotient for permeability, and polymeric films without perforations or microperforated;
P1 and P2 are the permeabilities at temperatures T1 and T2, (ii) macroperforated polymeric films and (iii) perforation-
respectively. mediated packaging systems.
Microperforated or non-perforated polymeric films yield
Permeability Coefficient of Multiplayer Films low O2 and low CO2 concentrations because the CO2
permeability of these materials is generally 3–6 times that
Permeability coefficients for multiplayer plastic film or of O2 permeability [49, 162]. These materials are suitable
sheet, either laminations or coextrusions, can be calculated for less CO2 tolerant commodities such as mango, banana,
from the thickness and permeability coefficients of the grapes and apples. The gas permeability in microperforated
individual layers as follows [1]: polymeric films is temperature dependent and this

146 Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158

dependence is commonly described by Arrhenius-type the length of perforation (tube). All variables in the above
equations [49, 95] as follows: equation are in SI units.
Ea 1 1
P ¼ Pref exp  ð21Þ Advanced Technology for Efficient MA Packaging
R T Tref
where P is the permeability at temperature T, EPa is the The goal of MAP of fresh commodity is to create an
activation energy for permeation, R is the ideal gas con- equilibrium package atmosphere with % O2 low enough
stant, T is the absolute temperature, Tref is the reference and % CO2 high enough to be beneficial to the produce and
temperature, and Pref is the permeability at the reference not injurious. This is accomplished through the proper
temperature. balance of several variables that affect package atmosphere
Perforated films have higher permeability rate but the [48, 81, 95]. MAP has progressed in the past several years.
ratio of CO2 to O2 permeability is much lower, approach- Appropriate packaging materials have been developed for
ing unity. Such films are, therefore, of great interest for most of the commodities. Recent advances in the polymer
commodities tolerating simultaneously low O2 and high science and technology have made it possible to manu-
CO2 levels such as fresh-cut products, strawberry and facture films with desired and well-designed gas trans-
mushroom, commodities having high respiration rate [53, mission rates especially for O2. There is consensus as to
112, 130]. which films are appropriate for standard size packages of
Macroscopic perforations in a polymeric film represent a various food commodities. Knowledge of how to effec-
parallel route for gas transport. An apparent permeability tively seal packages and reduce incidence of leakages has
term is used for these films, which is a function of the film developed and printing capabilities have provided even
permeability and of the number and size of holes. For holes more attractive packages. Technical challenges still exist in
of equal size, the governing equation which describes the produce packaging. Some of the technologies currently
effect of temperature on permeability of macroscopic films available to meet those challenges are as follows:
is as follows [52, 95, 154]:
  Continuous Films
a pR2h 16:4  106
P ¼ Pþ Nh ð22Þ
ð x þ Rh Þ
The movement of O2 and CO2 is usually directly propor-
where Pa is the apparent of the macroscopic perforated tional to the differences in gas concentration across the
film, Rh is the radius of the holes/macroperforation, Nh is film. Steady-state (constant) O2 and CO2 levels are
the number of holes, x is the film thickness and P is the achieved in the package when the O2 uptake and CO2
permeability of the non-perforated films. production by the product are equal to that permeating
In the perforation-mediated packaging, tubes are inser- through the film [48, 49, 81].
ted in an airtight package [53, 95]. This system is also
adequate for products requiring high CO2/low O2 concen- Tailoring of Film Laminates
trations and minimizes water accumulation inside the
package. The perforation-mediated packaging system is a Plastics films can be manufactured either as a single film or
rigid one, which is suitable for bulk products and for as a combination of more than one plastic. There are two
products sensitive to mechanical damage. ways of combining plastics: lamination and coextrusion.
The gas exchange in perforation-mediated packages has The tailoring of the film laminates is done when the gas
been found to be independent of temperature within the permeability characteristics of any of the selected films do
biological range of temperature (0–25°C). However, the not match the gas permeability requirements of the MAP
permeability depends on dimensions, numbers and porosity system satisfactorily. Thus various combinations of dif-
of the tubes. The permeability of the perforation-mediated ferent films are taken and film laminates are prepared to
packages can be represented by PAp/x as described in the bring the gas permeability characteristics as close to the gas
following equation [53, 95]: permeability requirements of the MAP [28, 72, 129]. Based
PAP D1:45 on the gas permeability characteristics of the individual
¼ 4:80  106 NP e 0:598 ð23Þ films, two different films are combined to form the lami-
x LP
nates. Lamination involves bonding together two or more
where NP is the number of perforations (tubes), e is the plastics or bonding plastics to another material such as
porosity (e = 1 when the tubes have no packing), AP is the paper or aluminium. Bonding is commonly achieved by use
surface area of the package through which O2 and CO2 of water-, solvent-, or solid-based adhesive. After the
permeate, D is the diameter of perforation (tube) and LP is adhesive is applied to one film, the two films are passed

Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158 147

between rollers to pressure bond them together. Lamination bonding of the seal. These stronger films with stronger seals
using laser rather than adhesives has also been used for are finding wide application in produce packaging [166].
thermoplastics [85]. Laminations enable reverse printing,
in which the printing is buried between layers and thus not Perforated Films
subjected to abrasion and can add or enhance heat seala-
bility. Curwood has introduced laminations of 35–50 lm The rate of gas movement through a perforated film is a
polyester and linear LDPE film, which has been microcut. sum of gas diffusion through the perforation and gas per-
These microcuts permit better flow of oxygen and carbon meation through the polymeric film. Generally, total gas
dioxide, and thus minimize the probability of respiratory flow through the perforations is much greater than gas
anacrobiosis. movement through the film. Gas transmission through
microperforations has been modelled [52]. The rate of gas
Coextrusion exchange through perforations in a film is so much greater
than through continuous films that a 1-mm perforation in a
In coextrusion, two or more layers of molten plastics are 0.0025 mm (1 mil) thick LDPE film has nearly the same
combined during the film manufacture. This process is gas flux as a half and a square metre area of the film. As
more rapid but requires materials that have thermal char- might be surmised, perforated packages are more suitable
acteristics that allow coextrusion. Because coextrusion and for produce having a high O2 demand [54, 55].
lamination combines multiple materials, recycling is
complicated. However, combining materials results in the Microperforated Films
additive advantage of properties from each individual
material and often reduces the total amount of packaging The concept of a packaging material with CO2/O2 trans-
material required. Therefore, coextrusion and lamination missions compatible with the needs of the contained pro-
can be sources of packaging reduction [102]. duce has been advanced. Two basic types of film materials
have been proposed, tested and, to some extent, introduced
Tailored Oxygen Transmission Rate (OTR) on a commercial scale: microperforated and mineral filled.
Alternative approaches to providing high OTRs, espe-
The flexible packaging industry has become increasingly cially in applications where there is limited package sur-
responsive to the specific gas requirements of fresh produce face area for gas exchange, have included films with holes
and are now providing films specifically designed for given or pores. P-Plus microperforated technology owned by
produce items. Films for low, medium and high respiration Print Pak and proprietary microperforation technologies
rate commodities are now available from many package owned by Respire Films in America and Sidlaw in England
vendors and the process of matching OTR to product is are finding applications in the rapidly emerging fresh,
being constantly refined. This has also allowed fresh-cut lightly processed and cut fruit market (Cameron et al. [30].
processors to begin to provide a much greater diversity of The P-Plus film is manufactured by perforating a polyolefin
products which now includes artichoke hearts, baby salad film with very tiny orifices using laser beams. The gas
greens, sliced strawberries and many others. Very high permeabilities are designed to balance the respiration rate
respiration rate commodities such as litchi, straw berries, of the produce being packed. P-Plus films represent a range
broccoli, asparagus and mushrooms have always presented of base film substrates displaying permeabilities precisely
a challenge to packagers. New technologies are now matching the demands of the produce [22].
allowing the manufacture of very high OTR ([15,000 Most cut fruit is packaged in rigid, gas impermeable
cc/m2 day) films for these applications [165]. trays with a permeable film lidstock sealed to the tray.
Because the tray is impermeable to gases, there is reduced
Metallocene Technology surface area for gas exchange. All the gas exchange must
occur through the lidstock. Until recently, few films had
Technology developed independently by Dow Chemical high enough OTRs to be useful in these applications. Those
Co. and Exxon Chemical Co. uses new single site catalysts films that had high OTRs often would not seal to the trays.
to produce desired polymer resins. These catalysts, when However, these microperforted films display the properties
applied to the manufacture of polyethylene and other required for MA packaging of highly respiring produce.
polymers, can provide a much narrower distribution of Microporous and microperforated films allow much more
polymer chain length, molecular weight and density. This rapid gas exchange than would normally be possible
results in flexible plastic films with very high OTR, low through plastic films [8, 59].
moisture vapour transmission rate, enhanced clarity, supe- Perforation retains many of the good results of sealing
rior strength, low seal initiation temperature and very rapid such as reduction of water loss and alleviation of water

148 Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158

stress without the possible deleterious effects of anaerobi- packaging, which encompasses a broad spectrum of
osis such as off-flavours, fermentation or CO2 damage. materials sensitive to the packaged produce requirements
Furthermore, perforation of polyolefin’s films enabled and its surrounding environment. The latter group includes
attainment of some of the advantage of seal packaging families of package supplements such as in-package
[22]. Microperforated packaging techniques have also sachets of chemicals to absorb O2, CO2 or C2H4 and even
proven effective in retarding deterioration in several other to provide O2 and CO2 when the package environment has
commodities. Additionally, perforation enables MAP for been depleted of desired gases [4, 20, 38, 56, 128].
highly respiring produce such as litchi, capsicum, mush-
rooms [28]. Perforation may also enable MAP for produce
that is sensitive to even small changes in concentrations of Tray/Lidstock Compatibility
O2, CO2 and C2H4. [22].
The high OTR requirements for lidstocks sealed to
Microporous Films impermeable trays has often conflicted with poor sealing
properties. Advances in coextrusion technology, coupled
Microporous films which are engineered to pass low with single site catalyst-based plastic resins, have provided
molecular weight gases such as O2, CO2, water vapour, better-breathing, better-sealing films just in time to meet
nitrogen, specifically for the purpose of adjusting the gas- the needs of the fresh-cut fruit industry [167].
eous concentration within the package, generally fall into
two categories: those which are intentionally perforated
with very small orifices which pass gases at a very slow Customizable Packaging Materials
rate relative to the total area and those which contain
intentional additives that interfere with the continuity of the Because each produce item has differing, often unique,
plastic materials and thus alter their gas transmission rates packaging requirements, the ability to customize the
[22, 27, 102, 154]. The two most popular microporous film package to the product has been the aim of produce
technology are those of van Leer (Belgium) and FreshHold, package development efforts. Fresh hold labels can be
owned by Albert Fisher, Plc. (USA), with the latter customized to provide almost any desired OTR, as is true
receiving major attention. In this type of material, the of microperforated films. Some film vendors provide an
plastic polymer is admixed with an inert inorganic mineral array of OTRs by varying the thickness of a given film.
such as crushed calcium carbonate or talc. The mineral fill Thinner films have higher OTRs. Very thin films do not run
is encapsulated in discrete particulates by the polymer and well on modern automated packaging machinery and so
imparts a variety of properties such as stiffness. this approach is limited.
Those films exhibiting high gas permeability by virtue Landec Corporation, Inc. of California, USA, has
of their nature or by reason of being polymeric blends developed side-chain polymer technology that allows the
are technically not microporous. Among these are high film OTR to increase rapidly as temperature increases,
(10–20%) EVA content polyethylene films such as Shields thereby avoiding anaerobic conditions subsequent to loss of
Bag or Cryovac, or polycyclic terepene film, Phillips temperature control. In addition, these polymers can pro-
K-resin block copolymer styrene film and Dow chemical’s vide very high OTR’, an adjustable CO2/O2 permeability
Attane ultra low-density ethylene octane copolymer films ratio, and a range of moisture vapour transmission rates.
produced in the past by Bunzl in the U.K. These films are These polymers are available as attachable patches that can
being suggested as high gas permeability packaging go on bags or overwraps and represent the first truly cus-
materials for MAP of respiring produce [1, 27]. tomizable packaging system [165, 166].

Interactive Package
Antifog Properties
MAP application may require packaging materials capable
of passing controlled quantities of water, oxygen, carbon Potential buyers like to see fresh produce before they buy
dioxide and ethylene in order to control the concentrations it. Therefore, plastic packages need to be clear and the
of these gases in the internal package environment and to product visible. Condensation of water inside the package
avoid anaerobiosis [104]. Thus was born the term ‘smart’ can often occlude the view of the product. Antifog com-
packaging, or packaging that could somehow sense the pounds have been developed that, when included in co-
changing internal packaging environment and admit O2 extruded films, migrate to the inner surface of the film and
from the outer atmosphere or allow excess CO2 to escape, prevent large water drops from forming. This results in a
or both. This terminology then translated into active more attractive package and a better view of the product.

Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158 149

However, antifog coatings can interfere with seal integrity In a MAP packaging system, fresh fruits are sealed in
and so newer technology relies on register coatings that perm selective polymeric film packages. Due to respiration
apply the antifog material only on selected areas of the film of the packaged fruits, O2 starts depleting, and CO2 starts
away from the seal. accumulating within the package because of the con-
sumption of O2 and the production of CO2 in the respira-
tion process. Consequently, respiration begins to decrease
Package Management while O2 and CO2 concentration gradients between pack-
age and ambient atmosphere begin to develop. The
There has emerged an increased appreciation that pack- development of concentration gradients induces ingress of
aging can only deliver its promised benefits to fresh pro- O2 and egress of CO2 through the packaging films [31, 34,
duce within a specific temperature range. In addition, an 95, 106, 131]. In a properly designed MAP, after a period
emphasis on shelf life extension has shifted to an emphasis of transient state an equilibrium state is established. At
on quality preservation. As the marketplace for fresh and equilibrium, the amount of O2 entering into the package
cut products becomes more competitive, it is the quality and that of CO2 permeating out of the package become
that sells, not shelf life. This has resulted in increased equal to the amount of O2 consumed and that of CO2
attention to maintaining low temperatures and rapid dis- evolved by the packaged fruit, respectively [46, 74, 154].
tribution. Such changes in perspective have helped realize The package atmosphere is then considered to be in
the benefits that modern packaging films can provide. dynamic equilibrium with external atmosphere. An ideal
package system will equilibrate and maintain O2 and CO2
Design of Modified Atmosphere Packaging at the levels that are known to be optimal for storage,
transport and handling throughout the market chain for a
The basis of MAP is that a reduced O2 environment sup- specific commodity [53, 73, 95, 121, 159].
presses respiration by the commodity, thereby slowing vital Traditionally, a ‘trial and error’ approach is commonly
processes, and prolongs the maintenance of postharvest employed for choosing a suitable packaging material to
quality. A secondary but potentially important factor is a achieve optimal modified atmosphere inside the packages.
concomitant decrease in respiration in response to elevated The result is that most commercial fresh produce packages
CO2. So this modified atmosphere can potentially reduce in major supermarkets often deviate from the optimal MAP
respiration rate, ethylene biosynthesis and sensitivity to conditions, resulting in shorter shelf life and in some cases
ethylene, decay and physiological changes, namely, oxi- anoxia [96]. How to select efficiently and effectively a
dation [81, 95, 138]. The objective of MAP design is to packaging for fresh produce? University College Cork,
define conditions that will create the atmosphere best suited Ireland, has developed the PACK-in-MAP technology
for the extended storage of a given produce while mini- which is a web-based ( software tool
mizing the time required for achieving this atmosphere. that helps in designing optimal modified atmosphere
This can be done by matching the film permeation rate for packages for fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables [95,
O2 and CO2 with the respiration rate of the packaged 97]. The software determines the needs for packaging of
produce. As different products vary in their behaviour and fruits and vegetables in order to maximize food quality and
as MA packages will be exposed to a dynamic environ- shelf life. It contains several databases on information on
ment, each package has to be optimized for specific product respiration rate, optimum temperature, and opti-
demands [34, 74, 95]. mum range of O2 and CO2 concentrations as well as per-
MAP is a dynamic system during which respiration and meability of different packaging materials, including
permeation occur simultaneously. Factors affecting both microperforated films. The PACK-in-MAP software can be
respiration and permeation must be considered when accessed online, the user defines the type of product and
designing a package [31, 74, 100, 162]. Commodity mass the system then selects the optimum temperature, the O2
kept inside the package, storage temperature, oxygen, and CO2 concentrations, and calculates the respiration rate
carbon dioxide and ethylene partial pressures and stage of for that product. It identifies the best possible packaging
maturity are known to influence respiration in a package material and/or amount of product required to achieve
[22, 44, 81]. Type, thickness, unintended holes, and surface optimal packaging conditions.
area of the packaging film that is exposed to atmosphere
and across which permeation of O2 and CO2 takes place, Design Methodology
and volume of void space present inside the package, as
well as temperature, relative humidity, and gradient of MAP design requires the determination of intrinsic prop-
oxygen and carbon dioxide partial pressures across the film erties of the produce, i.e. respiration rate, optimum O2 and
are known determinants of permeation [9, 44, 79, 131]. CO2 gas concentrations, and film permeability

150 Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158

characteristics [31, 152]. The ultimate aim of this design 46, 49, 74, 95]. The effect of gas composition on respira-
process is to select suitable films for a given product, its tion rate is often described by the Michaelies-Menten
area and thickness, filling weight, equilibrium time, and the equation with different types of inhibitions while the effect
equilibrium gas composition at isothermal and non-iso- of temperature is quantified by an Arrhenius-type equation
thermal conditions. The design involves the mathematical [93, 99, 123]. The permeability of O2 and CO2 in poly-
modelling gaseous exchange in MAP, respiration rate of meric films is temperature dependent and this dependence
commodity, permeability of the films and optimization of is commonly described by an exponential equation
package parameters [44, 49, 81, 95]. (Arrhenius-type equation) [49, 95, 99].

Current Application of Polymeric Films

Mathematical Modelling of Gaseous Exchange in MAP
for MAP of Fruits and Vegetables
Many plastic films have been in use for modified atmo-
When the fresh fruits and vegetables are sealed in a
sphere packaging of varieties of produce (Table 3). The
selected polymeric film packages, it constitutes a dynamic
packaging of apples using polyethylene, PVC, PET, etc.
system where respiration of the product and the gas per-
films were found to be successful in increasing shelf life
meation through the film take place simultaneously. In the
and maintaining quality [6, 65, 79, 129, 149, 150]). Rocha
respiration process O2 is consumed and the produce
et al. [134] packed apple using polypropylene of 100 lm
evolves CO2. The simplest concept is that the plastic film
for 6.5 months at 4°C and 85% R.H. and found that apples
serves as the regulator of O2 flow into the package and the
packed in MA lost less weight, presented better colour, and
flow of CO2 out of the package. For a considerably small
preserved better firmness than fruits stored in air. Prasad
length of transient period and at a given temperature, the
[129] developed MA packages for apple, combining BOPP
rates of O2 consumption and the rate of CO2 evolution of
and PVC films by tailoring of film laminates. The MA-
the packaged commodity depend greatly on O2 concen-
packed apples were reported to have retained orchard
tration and CO2 concentration. The differential mass bal-
freshness and increased shelf life considerably. The inci-
ance equations that describe the O2 and CO2 concentration
dence of bitter pit that developed during storage of apple
changes in a package containing respiring product are
was progressively reduced from 50% to less than 5% using
given in Eqs 24 and 25, respectively.
    LDPE packages [68].
dYO2 Wp A p PO 2  a 
Packaging citrus fruits in polyethylene films maintained
¼  RO2 þ YO2  YO2 ð24Þ
dt Vfp Vfp high RH inside the package and hence resulted in reduction
dZCO2 Wp Ap PCO2  a
 of shrinkage [14, 20, 149]. Guava packed with PVC, LDPE
¼ RCO2  ZCO2  ZCO ð25Þ or PET and stored for 2 and 3 weeks at 5 and 8°C hindered
dt Vfp Vfp 2

the development of peel colour and the loss of firmness [57,

where Ap is the area of the package through which the O2 110, 124]. Sunjka et al. [151] observed that guava stored
and CO2 permeates (m2), YOa 2 and ZOa 2 are the O2 and CO2 with silicon membrane had good overall quality after
concentration in the atmospheric air (cm3 per cm3 of air), storage and after ripening. Combrink et al. [40] reported
respectively, YO2 and ZCO2 are the O2 and CO2 concentra- that non-perforated polyethylene bags maintained guava
tion inside the package (cm3 per cm3 of air), respectively, fruit quality better than perforated bags. Most workers have
PO2 and PCO2 are the O2 and CO2 permeability of pack- used polyethylene and PVC films [58, 136] to extend
aging material (cm3 m-2 h-1. [Conc. diff. of O2 in volume tomato shelf life up to 21 days. Banana is greatly benefited
fraction]-1), respectively, Wp is the weight of the fruit kept from MAP using LDPE films due to reduced C2H4 sensi-
inside the package (kg), RO2 and RCO2 are the respiration tivity associated with high CO2 and low O2 [7, 13, 24].
rate for O2 consumption and CO2 evolution by the fruits, Modified atmosphere packaging has been considered to
(cm3 kg-1 h-1), respectively, Vfp is the free volume in the be beneficial to maintain high humidity, essential for pre-
package (cm ), t is the storage time (h) and dYO2 /dt and vention of water loss and browning of litchi pericarp [78,
dZCO2 /dt are the rate of change of O2 concentration ‘YO2 ’ 125, 148, 156]. Litchi treated with 1% HCl, packed with
and CO2 concentration ‘ZCO2 ’ within the package at time polyethylene films [77] with or without SO2 treatment, and
‘t’ of storage (cm3 per cm3 of air h-1), respectively. sealed with polyethylene and PVC films [33, 122] pre-
Equations 24 and 25 ,coupled to the model that vented dehydration and pericarp browning. Sivakumar and
describes the dependence of respiration rate on gas com- Korsten [148] reported that MAP of litchi fruits using
position and temperature (and eventually time) and models BOPP film after postharvest treatment minimized the rate
that describe the dependence of packaging material on of transpiration, preventing weight loss and deterioration of
temperature, constitute the basis of MAP design [34, 44, fruit quality.

Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158 151

Table 3 Summary of the type of product, type of plastic, atmosphere composition, temperature of storage during MAP
Type of product Type of plastic Atmospheric Temperature Storage period References
composition of storage (°C) under MAP
% O2 % CO2

Apple (cv. Bravo de Polypropylene 5 3 2 6.5 months [134]

Apple (cv. ‘Cox’s LDPE 3 3 4 5 weeks [68]
Orange Pippin’)
Apple (cv. Bramley’s Cardboard cases lined 7 5 15 4 week [59]
Seedling and Cox’s with LDPE
Orange Pippin
Apples (cv Fuji) Polypropylene, PVC 5 4 10 7 months [65]
Guava (cv. Kumagai) Multilayer coextruded 1.5 4.5 10 3 weeks [72]
Guava (cv. Kumagai) LDPEm 3 4.5 10 2 week [72]
Guava (cv. Kumagai) PET 4 5 5 24 days [124]
Banana LDPE 3 5 15 15 days [24]
Autumn seedless table Polypropylene 15 10 0 60 days [8]
Table grapes (cv. Oriented polypropylene 8 2.5 1 56 days [158]
Autumn Royal)
Litchi (cv. Mauritius) BOPP 17 6 2 34 days [148]
Litchi (cv Heiye) Polyethylene 15 4 3 42 days [156]
Litchi Laminated polyethylene 15 5 1.5 4 weeks [125]
Litchi (cv. McLean’s BOPP 16 6 2 18 days [147]
Sapota (cv.’Jantung) LDPE – – 5, 10, 15 4 weeks at 10°C and [111]
3 weeks at 15°C, at 5°C
experienced chilling
Strawberries (cv. PVC, LDPE, PP 6 8 2°C (4 days), followed 8 days Simulated [140]
Camarosa) by 10°C (2 days) condition of MAP
and by 18°C (transport, distribution
(2 days) and retail sale)
Strawberries and LDPE, PVC 3 5 7 1 week [159]
Sweet cherry (cv. LDPE 0.11, 0.18, 9.2, 11.5, 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 3 weeks [126]
Sams) 0.04, 12.4,
0.016, 15.2,
0.28, 20.3,
0.13 20.3
Sweet cherries LDPE 5 14 34°F 14 days [88]
Broccoli (cv. LDPE 1.5 6 15 2 weeks [35]
Broccoli heads Macroperforated, 3 5 1 28 days [142]
microperforated and
non-perforated PP
Broccoli OPP, PVC, LDPE 5 7 10 1 week [71]
Broccoli (cv. Acadi) Plastic containers (4-L) 3 8 3 30 days [153]
fitted with diffusion
windows for gas
Mushrooms (U3 Plastic containers (26-L) 5 10 4 12 days [153]
Sylvan 381) fitted with diffusion

152 Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158

Table 3 continued
Type of product Type of plastic Atmospheric Temperature Storage period References
composition of storage (°C) under MAP
% O2 % CO2

Tomatoes (cv. Trust) Plastic containers (26-L) 5 5 13 35 days [153]

fitted with diffusion
Tomato LDPE 2.3–10.2 1.7–4.9 20 28 days [31]
Mushroom PVC, LDPE 6 6 12°C 1 week [83]
Fresh-cut bell pepper Saran and PD-961EZ 3 5 5, 10 3 weeks and 2 weeks [60]
(cv. Wonder)
Green peppers Polylactic acid (PLA) 11.6 ± 4% 5.6 ± 2% 10°C 1 week [145]
(Capsicum annuum based biodegradable
L.) film, LDPE

Microperforated LDPE (30 lm) films provided effec- retard respiration and senescence of Broccoli heads [142].
tive, favourable atmospheres for Bramley apples during a Broccoli maintains its quality longer in both perforated and
simulated 4-week marketing period under ambient condi- sealed polyethylene, BOPP and PVC film packages [3, 51,
tions and the shelf life benefit was observed [59]. Artes- 133]. Christie et al. [35] successfully developed MA
Hernandez et al. [8] studied the quality of superior seedless packages for broccoli using LDPE films impregnated with
table grapes under MAP using microperforated and ori- inorganic particles. Jacobson et al. [71] observed that the
ented polypropylene films and reported that SO2-free MAP overall quality of broccoli packaged in LDPE that con-
kept the overall quality of clusters close to that at harvest. tained an ethylene absorber was perceived to be the sample
Packaging of straw berries using LDPE, PVC and poly- most similar to fresh broccoli [103].
propylene films with or without perforations showed a A biodegradable laminate of a chitosan-cellulose was
considerable improvement in quality in terms of fruit found suitable as a packaging material for MAP and stor-
firmness, weight loss, desiccation and decay [2, 140, 159, age of broccolis [164]. Serrano et al. [142] stored broccolis
169]. using macroperforated, microperforated and non-perfo-
A number of researchers have worked on MA packaging rated polypropylene films and observed that all changes
of cherries and other similarly perishable fruits including related to loss of quality were significantly reduced and
blueberries and raspberries [17, 32, 42, 114, 126, 160] delayed with time especially with perforated and non-per-
using PVC, polypropylene, LDPE and microperforated forated films. Packaging of pepper with plastic films extend
films or films that are unperforated but have a selectively the shelf life but the major benefit appears to be mediated
permeability to oxygen and carbon dioxide. Valero et al. by the maintenance of high relative humidity inside the
[159] developed active packaging by adding eugenol or package which reduces the rates of transpiration [21, 70,
thymol to table grapes stored for 56 days under MA con- 108, 161].
dition. The sensory, nutritional and functional property MAP is an economical and effective way of extending
losses were significantly reduced in packages with added shelf life of fresh mushrooms. Packaging of mushroom
eugenol or thymol. In addition, lower microbial spoilage using PVC wrap and polyolefin films increased the shelf
counts were achieved with the active packaging. life of mushrooms by retarding cap opening, reducing
Jacomino et al. [72] observed that multilayer coextruded respiration, reducing internal browning and reducing
polyolephinic film with selective permeability (PSP) can weight loss, consequently resulting in higher quality [83,
prolong storage of guava up to 3 weeks, while low -density 117]. In the perforated film packs, the quality of mushroom
polyethylene film with incorporated minerals (LDPEm) is varied according to the film’s permeability and number of
suitable for guava storage at 10°C with 85–90% relative perforation holes [117]. Shoji and John [145] compared the
humidity. The PSP film and LDPE film with mineral storage quality of green peppers using PLA-based biode-
incorporation provided an atmosphere that kept the fruit gradable film packaging with LDPE and perforated LDPE
with good sensorial characteristics for 28 days and film packaging. It is suggested that the biodegradable film
14 days, respectively. with higher water vapour permeability can be used to
MAP was proven to extend the shelf life of several maintain the quality and sanitary conditions of freshly
vegetables. Both high CO2 and low O2 concentrations harvested green peppers in MAP.

Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158 153

Almenar et al. [5] packed highbush blueberries in Despite many advantages of MA packaging, adoption of
polylactide (PLA) containers and stored at 10°C for this technique has been rather slow in countries dependent
18 days and at 23°C for 9 days. Physicochemical and on machinery to apply it, and the technique has not yet
microbiological studies were carried out in order to know reached its full potential. Possibly, non-availability of fast
the efficacy of PLA packages. Results showed that the PLA and reasonably priced equipment and the cost of the film
containers prolonged blueberry shelf life at different stor- are the main reasons limiting the commercial adoption of
age temperatures. Del Nobile et al. [47] used four different MA packaging.
films: two polyester-based biodegradable films, a multi- There is an unavailability of appropriate films that
layer film made by laminating an aluminium foil with a provide safe modified atmosphere, especially under abu-
polyethylene film and an oriented polypropylene film to sive temperature condition that can occur in the handling
study the ability of biodegradable films to prolong the shelf chain. Packages that provides safe atmosphere at one
life of minimally processed lettuce stored at 4°C. Results temperature may result in anaerobic conditions at higher
suggest that the gas permeability of the investigated films temperature. The expenses of using MAP technology both
plays a major role in determining the quality of the packed on film cost and on the packaging line system fall on the
produce. Moreover, it was observed that biodegradable producer/processor until and unless it is recovered. As of
films guarantee a shelf life longer than that of oriented today the application of MAP is limited to certain produce
polypropylene film package. and/or for specific purpose that provides reduced profit
Jacxsens et al. [74] designed equilibrium MA packages margin. Some problems are associated with maintaining
for fresh-cut vegetables such as bell pepper, broccoli, package integrity during storage and transportation. The
carrots, chicory, cucumber, French beans, iceberg lettuce, plastic films used for MA packaging must be flexible and
mixed lettuce, mungbean sprouts subjected to change in easy to use, but strong enough to survive normal handling
temperature which is similar to the condition of distribution operations. Based on above points, some of the future
chain. Higher respiration rates and temperature dependence research works that can be suggested are as follows:
of cut/shredded produce was observed compared to Standardization of conditions for MA packaging of all
unprocessed vegetables. Hence, they developed new non- commodities be done based on appropriate design steps
perforated packaging films with high O2 and CO2 perme- which includes the matching permeability requirement of
ability. The EMA packages were designed by combining films. This may lead to the commercial production of
mathematical models that describe the effect of tempera- polymeric films of desirable properties for MAP and its
ture and O2 and CO2 levels on produce respiration. The availability in the market for sustainable growth and
influence of temperature on respiration was described by an developments.
Arrhenius-type of equation while the influence of O2 and
CO2 on respiration was modelled by a Michaelis-Menten 1. Commercialization of MAP technology to all kinds of
kinetics [46, 95]. Fresh-cut produce seemed to be more food products may lead to enhanced profit margin.
temperature-sensitive than unprocessed fresh vegetables. 2. The polymeric films of recommended gas transmission
The proposed packaging systems with the new polymer rates and other characteristics (strong, flexible, trans-
films of higher permeabilities provided a sufficient low parent, durable and food grade) required for MAP for
headspace O2 level in a temperature range of between 2 all commodities should be produced commercially
and 10°C. either as single polymer/coextruded/laminated for the
success and popularization of MAP technology.
Future Research Needs 3. Most of the data on film permeability are determined at
a single temperature and relative humidity. The film
The use of MAP for fresh produce is quite restricted for a permeability data at realistic temperature between 0
number of reasons. No single polymer offers all the prop- and 25°C and realistic relative humidity between 85
erties required for MAP. In addition to barrier properties, and 95% must be determined.
properties like machinability/sealability must also be taken 4. When selecting polymer films for particular packaging
into account. One inherent requirement for all MAP packs applications, it is important that the film permeabilities
is the ability to retain the desired atmosphere as long as be measured under the envisaged storage conditions
possible. This is achieved first by choosing a film or films and using a mixed gas technique to give realistic
to provide the required gas and moisture vapour perme- predictions in MAP system.
ability characteristics and second by ensuring seal integrity 5. New trends of research are needed in the development
of the packs. To achieve the above film characteristics, the of interactive or smart films. These new films may
different plastic films are either laminated or coextruded. somehow sense the changing internal packaging

154 Food Eng Rev (2009) 1:133–158

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