Foods undergo deterioration of different types and food processing industry is supposed to deploy relevant technologies to arrest such unwanted changes in quality. Oxygen is considered the most destructive chemically and biochemically because the reaction products with oxygen invariably taint the product quality during storage. Oxygen also facilitates growth of aerobic microorganisms which bring about undesirable quality changes in the foods while affecting their safety. Packing with low oxygen transmission packing materials does retard the reactions to some extent for some time but good storage life can be obtained only under an inert atmosphere created with vacuum or replacing air with nitrogen. Food grade nitrogen is manufactured from atmospheric air through a complex process and large scale manufacturers supply the gas with practically no moisture, in compressed form in steel cylinders. However use of Nitrogen by food industry is rising fast and many large food processors find it logistically difficult and economically non-viable to procure nitrogen cylinders for daily use. In situ Nitrogen generators can be helpful to them for uninterrupted packing operation.
"Because large quantities of Nitrogen are required for atmosphere blanketing with food packaging, the most ideal method for administering the gas is with a Nitrogen Generator. Nitrogen Generators help companies save money and work efficiently because they produce Nitrogen literally from thin air and will not run out of the gas supply. Avoid costly run-outs, switching tanks, N2 gas company contracts, high pressure cylinder delivery, handling and storage all with a Nitrogen Generator. Depending on the size and model Nitrogen Generator a company needs, they may see a return on investment (ROI) in 18-24 months, plus they eliminate the hassle of dealing with the gas company, storing extra cylinders, and potentially running out of gas at a critical point".
Nitrogen cylinders are still relevant for small scale processors with limited financial strength but the quality of the gas needs to be assured, especially freedom from impurities and moisture. Large capacity Nitrogen generators can be installed in food industry parks or industrial estates where a number of units working there require Nitrogen. Also to be considered is whether small production units can be designed at affordable prices, though cot of production of the gas may be some what higher. In India modified atmosphere storage (MAS) and packing (MAP) systems are yet to make an impact but for food industry it is inevitable that foods are handled under controlled atmosphere for longer life and better quality.