Fresh Food Packaging Techniques

When it comes to food, freshness is important. Modern fresh food packaging techniques have made it possible to store food for an extended period of time and still have it be fresh, flavorful, and still the right color.

Fresh Food Packaging Techniques

There are several fresh food packaging techniques these days that help preserve their contents. Right now, we’re focusing on three methods that all work in the same way – they limit the amount of oxygen that can interact with the food inside the packaging.

Oxygen is vital to life, but it is the enemy of freshness. Regular oxygen levels make it very easy for germs like bacteria to multiply, which can spoil food. Oxygen is also an important part of free radical spoilage, which causes food to go bad on a molecular level. Oxidation causes a freshly cut apple to quickly turn brown. In absence of oxygen, this tends not to happen.

The Difference Between MAP, CAP, and Vacuum Packaging

We will examine these three packaging methods: MAP (Modified Atmosphere Packaging), CAP (Controlled Atmosphere Packaging), and regular vacuum packaging. Let’s explore each option in greater detail.

MAP (Modified Atmosphere Packaging)

Modified Atmosphere Packaging involves replacing regular air with a more controlled mix of gases. Since oxygen is reactive, the obvious solution is to replace it with a gas that is less reactive. Inert gasses like nitrogen and carbon dioxide won’t react with food products or allow bacteria to easily grow. Since the container can remain pressurized, it can hold its shape and remain at normal atmospheric pressure, which helps the packaged food stay visually pleasing and retain its shape without being crushed in a vacuum.

CAP (Controlled Atmosphere Packaging)

Controlled Atmosphere Packaging is similar to MAP because it limits the product’s exposure to harmful oxygen by controlling the levels of specific gasses. However, CAP differs in that other factors, such as temperature and humidity, can also be controlled. Also, CAP offers the ability to adjust those levels over time. The biggest difference is stationary food storage uses CAP the most often.  Due to the complexity, storage facilities and factories, rather than in transportable containers, usually use the CAP technique.

Vacuum Fresh Food Packaging

Vacuum packaging is the simplest of these three to understand. The concept is straightforward enough – the air is sucked out, leaving little or no oxygen behind to react with the food. Unlike MAP and CAP, the air isn’t replaced with anything. The outside atmospheric pressure pushes on the packaging, causing it to tightly conform to the product being packaged. Vacuum packaging can push more delicate products out of shape. For example, this packaging technique would crush bread, ruining it for good. For more durable products like bacon, vacuum packaging can be an inexpensive and easy alternative to more advanced packaging processes.


MAP, CAP, and vacuum packaging each offer their own benefits and drawbacks. The right option for you will depend heavily on your needs, the products being packaged, and your budget.

What can Fortress Nutrition LLC do for you?

Rest assured that you’re in good hands with Fortress Nutrition. To learn more about how we tailor our blending, ingredient sourcing, logistics, consumer packaging, and other services to meet customer needs, and to find out how we can partner with you to ensure compliance with new GMO laws, contact us today.