Seafood products packaged in a modified atmosphere (MA) have lately taken major market shares in Europe where the products range from minced products to a wide range of fresh fillets, shellfish and mussels. The effect of MA packaging is generally determined by the amount of available carbon dioxide (CO2) to dissolve into the food. This is again given by the composition of the packaging gas mixture and the degree of filling (i.e. volume of product vs. volume of package). Percentages between 25 and 33 is recommended for seafood, both to ensure bacteriostatic CO2 availability and to prevent packaging collapse, known as ?snug down? effect.
Normal degree of filling is usually undesirable because of the low packaging efficiency, and a novel way of reducing the packaging size is by dissolving the CO2 into the product before packaging, which in turn improve logistics and distribution of the products. Previous laboratory experiments have shown that 1 to 2 hours in pure CO2 at low temperatures (0-4 °C) is sufficient for several actual products. Degree of filling can then be increased without compromising product quality or the shelf-life. This method is called ?Soluble Gas Stabilization (SGS)" and has a potential to 1) increase the degree of filling, thus providing better packaging efficiency and give improved logistical solutions, and/or 2) enhance the product shelf-life by maintaining the original degree of filling of the package.
In this project, we will develop a concept for making SGS technology commercially available. An industrial implementation of the concept will further contribute to a more sustainable value chain for seafood products packaged in MA. This will be, as far as we know, the first concept where this kind of technological solution is developed. Although this project focus on seafood, a technology transfer to other industries such as i.e. the meat industry, will is possible.
The soluble gas stabilization (SGS) technology has been proven beneficial for prolonging the shelf-life of muscle food such as seafood and white meat. According to previous research, it has been shown in lab conditions that exposing the food samples to CO2 before packaging will increase the shelf-life and preserve the quality of muscle food for a longer period, without influencing taste and visual impression. Longer shelf-life is correlated with increased utilization of the raw material, food products and enables these products to reach new markets. Through previous work, lack of technology for on line industrial full-scale SGS treatment during production has been identified to be the main obstacle for implementing SGS treatment in the food industry. The project will focus on seafood but technology transfer to the meat industry will be possible.
In order to develop an innovative concept for full-scale SGS processing technology that provides optimal bio-physical conditions for muscle food along the food supply chain all the way to the end consumer, both technology and bio-physical condition needs to be taken into consideration. In this research project, the main goal will be achieved through interdisciplinary research to secure the optimal solution to be found. The different WPs will be focusing on either technological research or life science challenges where we believe that the multidisciplinary focus of this project will be a driver for its success!