FDA approves MAP checker

An in-line measurement system that can check the oxygen content and seal integrity of packaging has received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and will now be introduced to the market.

Promoted by its creator GEA as the “world’s first” system of its kind to check every single package in a modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) line, OxyCheck non-invasively inspects oxygen content after sealing on a GEA thermoformer. Up until now, packages had to be damaged by a probe and testing was limited to a small sample (less than 0.5 per cent) coming off the line.

A demo version had previously been introduced by GEA in 2018 achieving commercial success in Europe.

“OxyCheck will be an important add on to our thermoforming equipment,” said head of equipment sales for slicing and packaging in North America, Steve McGady. “Large customers have already shown interest and are waiting for the new technology.”

OxyCheck works by monitoring the residual oxygen content directly during packaging on the company’s PowerPak Plus thermoformer. It uses a sensor spot made of an FDA approved polystyrene-based fluorescent dye that is printed on the inside of the top film. Similar to an indicator strip, the wavelength of the sensor spot changes depending upon the oxygen content inside the package. Sensor spot readers are installed on the thermoformer after the package has been gas injected and hermetically sealed. A method has been developed for calculating the oxygen concentration based on the light emitted and the temperature.

The sensor spot liquid is similar to the materials used in making the packaging films, while the sensors work with the pulsed light of an LED.