Modified atmosphere packaging of fruits and vegetables

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1989;28(1):1-30. doi: 10.1080/10408398909527490.


Modified atmospheres (MA), i.e., elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide and reduced levels of oxygen and ethylene, can be useful supplements to provide optimum temperature and relative humidity in maintaining the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables after harvest. MA benefits include reduced respiration, ethylene production, and sensitivity to ethylene; retarded softening and compositional changes; alleviation of certain physiological disorders; and reduced decay. Subjecting fresh produce to too low an oxygen concentration and/or to too high a carbon dioxide level can result in MA stress, which is manifested by accelerated deterioration. Packaging fresh produce in polymeric films can result in a commodity-generated MA. Atmosphere modification within such packages depends on film permeability, commodity respiration rate and gas diffusion characteristics, and initial free volume and atmospheric composition within the package. Temperature, relative humidity, and air movement around the package can influence the permeability of the film. Temperature also affects the metabolic activity of the commodity and consequently the rate of attaining the desired MA. All these factors must be considered in developing a mathematical model for selecting the most suitable film for each commodity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atmosphere*
  • Food Preservation / methods*
  • Fruit*
  • Vegetables*