Soon, late mornings of sleeping in and cartoons will be replaced by early A.M. wake up calls and last second bus-stop dashes. Afternoons of ice cream and sprinkler hopping will be a faded memory and in their place long hours of times tables and history homework.
Much to the chagrin of kids and, perhaps, delight of parents, it’s almost time to head back to school. And between regular classes, after school sports, math club and oboe lessons, kids seem to be busier than they have ever been before. So a good diet complete with fruits and vegetables is critical to maintaining the physical and mental endurance required to survive a modern school week.
Fortunately fast food restaurants and grocery stores alike have caught up with the growing push to keep kids healthy. Shelves are lined with all sorts of better-for-you snack alternatives. Even the mighty french fry has been usurped as the cheeseburger’s companion of choice by, of all things, a pre-sliced apple.
Attaining the convenience of pre-cut fruits and veggies without the inherent spoilage – an apple seems to brown the instant it’s sliced – is no mean feat. Oxygen is the culprit. Or, more specifically, it’s the oxidation of enzymes in the fruit’s flesh that causes quick discoloration once exposed to ambient air.
There are a couple ways to reduce this effect. At home you can add an anti-oxidant such as lemon juice. Some restaurants use calcium ascorbate for the same purpose. These can alter the flavor of the fruit though, so some food processors have turned to modern packaging techniques to extend the shelf life of their produce.
By modifying the atmosphere a piece of cut fruit encounters, a produce packager can stave off the damaging effects of oxygen for days or, in some cases, weeks. Replacing the ambient air in a package with clean, dry nitrogen, the fruit’s flesh doesn’t have the opportunity to oxidize. This method, known as modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), is a safe alternative that won’t affect the texture or flavor of pre-sliced produce.
This seemingly simple solution isn’t without its challenges. Sliced produce can respire, or breathe, after its cut. This will change the atmosphere in a package so specifically chosen films are required which allow the right balance of carbon dioxide, moisture, and oxygen to stabilize.
Another challenge of this fruit saving method is the delivery of nitrogen. Adding the cost of an additional utility by paying for nitrogen every month can make the MAP process unappetizing for many fresh fruit packagers.
Fortunately, the team at Compressed Gas Technologies has done their homework. With over a dozen years designing both PSA (Pressure swing Adsorption) and membrane based nitrogen generation systems, CGT has become the trusted source of food packagers looking to create their own supply of N2.
Producing your own supply of nitrogen at your facility can reduce the cost of the gas by as much as 75%. Helping keep kids active with convenient, healthy snacks while protecting the health of your bottom line is a great achievement. It’s nitrogen generators, as the kids say, For The Win!