What is the secret that keeps potato chips fresh and crisp? If you guessed nitrogen, you are right. Nitrogen in chip bags ensures that food processing and packaging companies can protect the quality and integrity of everyone’s favorite hearty snack.
Nitrogen in chip bags
Some consumers get annoyed by all that “air” in their bag of chips. But that air isn't air at all. If it were, it wouldn't take long for your potato chips to spoil and for their taste to deteriorate.
The reason is that the ambient air surrounding us contains 78% nitrogen but also has an oxygen content of 21%. This makes it perfect for breathing but less ideal to come into contact with potato chips and other foods. That’s because the oxygen reacts with ingredients such as the oil in potato chips and breaks them down. This reduces the shelf life of a lot of different foods.
To address this problem, you first need high-quality nitrogen to displace the air in the chip bag. Why nitrogen? Because it is an inert gas, which means it reacts poorly with other chemical substances.
Oxygen, on the other hand, is highly reactive and reacts with other molecules. This leads to food spoiling or losing its freshness.
The solution to this problem is a process called “modified atmosphere packaging.” Here, the ambient air in food packaging is replaced with a mixture containing mostly nitrogen.
While you may not know the science behind it, you are probably doing something similar already. Are you resealing your bags of potato chips after you open them to keep them from going stale? Then you are trying to protect them from exposure to oxygen.
The role nitrogen generators play in modified atmosphere packaging
The process of preserving potato chips starts with nitrogen generators that can produce a reliable supply of food-grade nitrogen. Because the gas comes into contact with the food, in this case potato chips, it has to meet stringent quality and purity requirements. This also applies to the compressed air that these generators turn into nitrogen.
In the past, many companies used bottled nitrogen for this purpose. Recently, food processors are increasingly turning to on-site nitrogen generators. These have many benefits.
They not only guarantee a reliable supply of food-grade nitrogen but also save operating costs in the long run. In addition, nitrogen generators eliminate many logistical challenges, such as when to order the bottles and where to store them. This ensures there are no supply bottlenecks while offering greater flexibility.
After the nitrogen is inserted into the chip bag, the packaging is sealed before being put in boxes and shipped to their destination.
It should be noted that nitrogen is also used in other processes in the food industry. These include grinding, food injection, bottling, cleaning and blanketing.
Turn to Pneumatech for your nitrogen generation needs
Now you know where you should get your nitrogen from – your own nitrogen generator. But where do you get that from? The answer is easy: Pneumatech.
There are many reasons why Pneumatech is a popular partner of food and beverage industry companies. Our generators check all the boxes. They are reliable, efficient and guarantee a steady supply of food-grade nitrogen. In addition, they always deliver the nitrogen purity you need to meet the stringent food industry standards.
Take the PPNG HE, our high-flow PSA nitrogen generator. It can produce nitrogen with a purity of up to 99.999%.
Thanks to its best-in-class efficiency, the PPNG HE reduces your energy costs to a minimum and keeps your operating costs low. In the process, it also contributes to a green production and helps food companies meet their sustainability goals.
Food packaging and nitrogen in chip bags in particular come with specific requierements. The Pneumatech experts understand your needs and know how to meet them. So if you need help, contact us. We're always happy to help.