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Food processing techniques can add unlisted chemicals to food

Food manufactures may use food processing techniques which add chemicals to foods that are not listed on the label. A recent innovation in food packaging is ‘modified atmosphere packaging’ or MAP.

In this process manufacturers, fill meat packaging with adjusted levels of oxygen and other gases (such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen) that are known to keep meat looking fresh and attractive by preserving the ‘red’ colour we associate with freshness.

‘Modified atmosphere packaging’ is used across many food categories. Red meat needs high oxygen to maintain the red colour, bread requires low oxygen to avoid mould and vegetables often need a three-gas mixture. Other typical MAP foods include processed meat, cheese, milk powder, fresh pasta, fruit and vegetables, poultry and seafood.

MAP can extend shelf life between 50% and 500%. While supporters of modified atmosphere packaging cite the reduced need for artificial preservatives as a key benefit (allowing manufacturers to use less of the bad food additives), we as consumers need to remain vigilant on use by dates. The ‘fresh red’ meat on the shelf may be much older than you think, and the longer it sits the greater the chance for dangerous microbial growth. Real fresh, not MAP fresh, might be a better choice.

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Lindy Schneider is a writer and researcher with a keen interest in health, wellbeing and natural childcare. She is an advocator of a chemical-free lifestyle in the best interests of her family, the community and a sustainable world. She lives in the Yarra Valley with her partner and two young children.

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