OXYGEN ABSORBER PACKETS

This page is an excerpt from Use of Oxygen Absorbers in Dry Pack Canning, a research paper by:

Albert E. Purcell - Theodore C. Barber - John Hal Johnson

At the Benson Quality Assurance Laboratory, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Table 1: Key to Table 2

Name

-

Description

Blank

-

Air sealed in a #10 can (no product)

O

-

Product sealed in can with no packet

X

-

Air + Exposed packet (exposed 4 hours)

Fresh

-

Air + Fresh packet (exposed less than 5 min)

Milk O

-

Dried Milk only

Milk X

-

Dried Milk + Exposed packet

Milk Fresh

-

Dried Milk + Fresh packet

Mac O

-

Macaroni only

Mac X

-

Macaroni + Exposed packet

Mac Fresh

-

Macaroni + Fresh packet

 

Table 2:

OXYGEN AND NITROGEN CONTENT OF SAMPLES AT THREE DIFFERENT TIMES

 

 

% O2

 

% N2

Sample

48

hrs.

1

week

2

weeks

 

48

hrs.

1

week

2

weeks

Fresh

0.70

0.42

0.43

 

98.36

98.65

98.65

X

2.27

0.40

0.90

 

98.74

98.67

98.55

Milk O

20.33

19.99

20.14

 

78.72

79.02

78.99

Milk X

.050

0.463

0.27

 

98.57

98.63

98.62

Milk Fresh

0.48

0.44

0.43

 

98.59

98.63

99.27

Mac O

20.05

20.18

19.98

 

79.11

78.81

79.19

Mac X

0.42

0.42

0.42

 

98.64

98.20

98.66

Mac Fresh

1.45

0.41

0.41

 

98.63

98.66

98.65

 Conclusions:

Oxygen absorbing packets are effective in reducing oxygen contents in sealed cans. The ageless Z300 packet has a greater than claimed capacity for absorbing oxygen. Packets abused by 4 hour-exposure-to-air still exceed claimed capacity. It may be economical to use smaller packets based on the dead air volume instead of can volume. Smaller packets would have less tolerance for abuse and personnel would need to be more diligent in protecting the packets.

The level of oxygen remaining in the presence of the absorber packets is sufficiently low to greatly retard development of rancidity. The biological consequences are not so easy to predict. Microorganisms range from aerobic to anaerobic, thus no unqualified statement can be made. The energy requirements of anaerobic bacteria are met by reactions between oxygen and more than one other molecule. This makes bacterial energy a higher order of reaction than rancidity. Thus, the rate of bacterial aerobic reaction would be more seriously retarded than rancidity. These matters are not of practical importance because the products to be canned should be too dry to support microbial growth. Insects are aerobic and would likewise suffer retardation of activity. No comprehensive statement can be made about irreversible inactivation or death of insects. As long as the oxygen level remains low, insect activity will be lower by at least the square root of oxygen content. In a practical sense, these packets are effective in stopping insect activity. USDA does not recognize any method except disintegration as effective for completely killing insect eggs.

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