Food gases have become a key component of the food industry, helping companies in the sector expand the possibilities of their products and fulfill the final clients’ current expectations and demands.
Among these, the role of carbon dioxide in food preservation or nitrogen food packaging have become well known.
What are the main food gases and how can companies best make use of them? Let us guide you through the current possibilities of food preservation gases and the rest of the applications in food gases.
What are food gases?
Food gases encompass all industrial or technical gases specifically employed in the food and beverages sector. Their use comprises a number of processes, including food production, processing, storage and sterilization, among others.
More precisely, food gases can play the following roles:
- Be used as additives with the goal of improving textures or taste. For instance, the process of generating soft drinks and other carbonated drinks such as beer employs this type of gases.
- Help in the sterilization of food products. Food gases may be used to eliminate microorganisms that might arise in food or beverage products, minimizing the need of employing solvents. Ethylene dioxide, ozone or formaldehyde are commonly used for this purpose.
- Play a part in generating controlled or modified atmospheres. These enhance preservation and minimize degradation and oxidation processes, by regulating oxygen levels introducing certain appropriate food gases. These food preservation gases thus help companies avoid product spoilage and expanding product shelf life.
- As pressurizers, propelling food and draft beverages from their protective vessels or containers using both CO2 and N2
- Generating cryogenic conservation. Liquefied food gases (most notably, nitrogen and carbon dioxide) enhance the preservation of food items providing a high efficiency and reduced bacterial activity.
All in all, because of their intended use for human consumption, food gases must undergo strict monitoring and comply with specific regulations, ensuring both they guarantee food products’ quality and the final clients’ health.
Main gases in the food industry
The use of carbon dioxide in food is widespread and its uses are multiple.
First of all, carbon dioxide is used as a cooling (cryogenic) agent, helping companies freeze and chill food and beverage products and guaranteeing temperature control. This, in turn, helps safeguard the products’ taste and texture for a longer time, avoiding the use of additional preservatives.
Secondly, carbon dioxide is also the key element in generating carbonated beverages. Additionally, it helps with meat and fish storage, guaranteeing these products maintain their properties, while at the same time protecting food and acting as a bacteriostatic element.
Some food products can benefit from the use of this gas as an oxidizing agent. For instance, oxygen keeps the red color of fresh meat, avoiding gray or brown colors that might not look appealing for consumers.
At the same time, oxygen improves breathing rates in vegetables and other food products, retaining their freshness. It also extends the metabolism in fresh vegetables, can play a role in inerting food products and in the production of drinking water.
Nitrogen is part of the list of the main food gases as it’s used in a number of processes:
- Pressurizing agent
- Preservative, eliminating oxygen in Modified Atmosphere Packaging and minimizing the growth of microorganisms, as well as generating an inert atmosphere.
- An agent for quick freezing and cooling
- Plays a key role in wine treatment and wine storing and bottling, again being able to eliminate oxidation processes
As part of the food gases, hydrogen presents diverse uses. For instance, it is employed to guarantee a longer shelf life for products, as well as in order to eliminate carbon double bonds and be able to produce solid or semi-solid fat in the production of vegetable oils.
Argon acts as an inhibitor for respiratory enzymes, providing benefits such as an enhanced flavor preservation. It also helps inhibit damaging anaerobes and fat oxidation, as well as minimizing package collapse.
The smallest molecular gas as part of the food gases list, it is employed to detect leaks as it can fit through small holes.
Cryospain, experts in working with food gases
At Cryospain, we’re experts in helping companies transport and store food gases in the most efficient and optimized way.
As such, we’re able to provide cryogenic tailor-made equipment that preserves food gases for companies to use whenever needed, all according to their specific needs.
Want to learn more about the possibilities of food gases and the most optimized technologies to store and use them? Download our reference list and talk to our team of experts to see how we can help you fulfill your needs.