Fresher Meals - What is Modified Atmospheric Packaging (MAP)?

Posted by Brent Redpath on

Gym Meals have been on a mission since day one. This mission is as follows: to deliver our customers fresh, not frozen, high-quality, chef-prepared meals that taste great and help a range of people achieve a variety of fitness goals. 

Producing fresh meals comes with its own, unique set of challenges. One of these challenges is maximising the freshness of meals, so that you get a fresher product, for longer. We've achieved this to-date, with great success, by sourcing the freshest, local ingredients from around Canberra and having our Chefs prepare them only minutes to hours before they are collected from our kitchen, or delivered to your door.

We are always asking ourselves: How can we better? How can we deliver a fresher quality product that lasts for longer? The answer is now here: welcome Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP). 

What is Modified Atmospheric Packaging (MAP)? 

There are multiple ways you can extend the shelf-life and prolong the freshness of a product. You can freeze it, or fill the food with preservatives. The problem is both of these kill freshness and quality (not an option as far as we're concerned). There is also the much better option of modifying the atmosphere of the package that the food is stored in, which removes the need for freezing and the addition of artificial preservatives. 

You may or may not have heard of MAP before, but you have certainly seen and purchased products that use this technology everytime you have done your weekly grocery shop at the supermarket. There are literally hundreds of MAP products on every shelf of every supermarket all-over the world. MAP has been popular since the 1970's, being used for some packs of meat and fish and has grown in use exponentially ever since, with more and more companies transitioning to MAP as a means to extend the shelf life of their products and ensure they stay fresh. Every year billions of food products are sold that were packaged using this proven technology. 

MAP is defined as:

‘'the packaging of a perishable product in an atmosphere which has been modified so that its composition is other than that of air’'. 

In other words, the earth's normal, breathable atmosphere is modified with the addition of a gas during the sealing and packaging process. The three main gasses used in this process worldwide are carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen. In the case of Gym Meals, nitrogen is used in our packing process. This, in conjunction with fresh ingredients and low storage temperatures, is an extremely effective way of ensuring our meals stay even fresher throughout the week. 


How Does MAP Work? 


Normally, air is comprised of the following gaseous composition: 78.08% nitrogen, 20.96% oxygen and 0.03% carbon dioxide. This atmosphere is great for breathing and living but can be problematic when it comes to maximising the shelf-life and freshness of food. A foods exposure to oxygen increases spoilage and the growth of microorganisms that lead to food - especially meat and fresh produce - losing freshness and having a short shelf-life. 

MAP works by reducing the food's exposure to oxygen, drastically preserving freshness and taste for longer.  This is achieved, during the packaging process, by removing as much oxygen from the package as possible and replacing it with safe gas, such as nitrogen. Reducing the amount of oxygen in the package drastically decreases the deterioration of the food and extends its shelf-life - meaning that the freshness and flavour of that first Gym Meal of the week will be present until the last day of the week. 



Is it Safe and How Long Does it Last? 


MAP a proven technology that is used to package billions of food products across the world, every year. There has been a lot of research into its safety since the rise of its popularity in the 70's. MAP is extremely safe as long as the food's expiration and best before dates are adhered to and the food is stored at the correct temperature. 

For this reason, Gym Meal's recommends that the meals be consumed within seven days from the date of packaging (as per the best before date located on the packet) to ensure that the products optimal freshness and flavour is maintained throughout the week. 

All Gym Meals now come in MAP packaging. See our menu here. 


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