AGC Instruments is an advocate of handheld analysers for Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) to achieve the most efficient and cost effective quality assurance.

AGC Map-Pak for Modified Atmosphere PackagingWhen using MAP, there are two main issues which are the packaging seal integrity and accurate gas mixtures. If the seal integrity is sufficient, the gas mixture should be accurate. Therefore, AGC Instruments developed the Map-Pak range of gas analysers for the food industry to validate these two interlinked requirements for successful MAP quality control. The Map-Pak range can also be used to test and check the gas mixtures at source from gas cylinders or other sources using the innovative and low cost Map-Pak Calibration Interface.

There are varying company policies and audit requirements but typically the quality assurance team in a food manufacturing facility will remove a package at regular intervals and measure the headspace gas. This is achieved by puncturing the packaging with the needle from the Map-Pak analyser which will then draw a sample and analyse the gas components in the pack.

It is argued that the repackaging of that particular sample and discarding the original packaging is wasteful. However, this is mitigated with the abundance of less costly packaging available on the market along with widespread recycling of materials. Another facet of this argument is that automated process control systems eliminate these problems and leads to fewer people in the production area. This has been mainly publicised by manufacturers to promote expensive inline machinery costing upwards of €10,000. No production lines can truly be automated especially for the fundamental importance of food production safety. An element of human control must be implemented at all times and the use of handheld analysers is an important part of this process.

The Map-Pak Gas Analysers were developed to satisfy three key provisions: speed, accuracy and verification.

1. Speed – Fast and easy to use for all operators

Once the Map-Pak needle is inserted in the packaging, the user only has to press one button to obtain sample measurements within seconds. The unit can operate for seven hours on one charge or alternatively it can be operated whilst running off the Mains AC power.

2. Accuracy – Modern sensor technology

Using the latest and award-winning sensors, the Map-Pak range employs both electrochemical and non-dispersive infrared sensors (NDIR). These sophisticated measurement systems combined allow fast and accurate readings.

3. Verification – In-depth results reporting for food safety audits

Software is also available for all Map-Pak analysers at no additional cost and allows the results to be easily downloaded to a computer for record-keeping. Furthermore, an optional compact printer for printing the results on labels and receipt-size paper is available. These two add-ons will enable swift verification for the quality control process in Modified Atmosphere Packaging. The printed and saved results show the Operator and Product titles along with a PASS/FAIL message if a gas level is exceeded or is below the required level which can be pre-programmed by the operatives.

AGC Instruments and the team of international distributors can assist you with any queries you may have regarding Modified Atmosphere Packaging.

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