Food grade nitrogen for food and beverage packaging

July 8, 2022

Safe, effective F&B packaging with food grade nitrogen

At 78%, nitrogen is the most abundant gas in the atmosphere. Unlike oxygen, which is reactive, nitrogen is inert. This makes it excellent for the packaging of food and beverages, such as beer and coffee. In some cases, as is the case of nitro brews, it also plays a role in boosting flavours and altering product quality. Dessert products also use nitrogen to improve texture and bulk. When it comes to winemaking, it is used in several stages of the process: pressurization, inerting, assembly, filtration, to name a few. However, this article focuses on food grade nitrogen in food packaging. In this application, it preserves the freshness and shelf life of packaged food products. 

What is food grade nitrogen?

Pneumatech applications Food and beverage
Food grade nitrogen is nitrogen with a purity and quality that meet US, European and other global standards for use with food and beverages. For example, the European Union defines food grade nitrogen as having a purity of 99% (less than 1% oxygen remaining). F & B manufacturers use food grade nitrogen to avoid contamination and having to discard entire batches of product. It also preserves flavor and lengthens the shelf life of their products.

Advantages of nitrogen in food packaging

As an inert gas, nitrogen has many uses in and benefits for food and beverage packaging:

  1. It ‘flushes out’ oxygen which plays a big role in food spoilage. Oxygen causes oxidation and also encourages the growth of certain bacteria.
  2. Nitrogen stabilizes flavours and seasonings by eliminating oxidation.
  3. It is a superior alternative to vacuum packaging for delicate products like chips, cookies, biscuits, and similar baked/fried products. It cushions the contents.
  4. Nitrogen is a non-chemical food preservative.
  5. It is gaining popularity over chemical alternatives in the de-infestation of fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains held in stock.
  6. Nitrogen’s food industry applications are wide and varied. They include head space replacement in cans/tanks, the purging of large containers, sparging of cooking oils, pressure transfer of powders and liquids, and others.

How nitrogen is added to food packaging

The use of nitrogen in F&B packaging is a form of Modified Atmosphere Packaging. This means the gaseous atmosphere surrounding a food product is changed inside its packaging. Examples of MAP technologies are the VFFS machines that fill chip bags or the capsule packaging machines that fill coffee pods.

How does a manufacturer get its nitrogen?

Companies can purchase liquid or gaseous nitrogen from vendors. However, self-producing nitrogen with an on-site generator is quickly gaining in popularity. These generators isolate nitrogen from the other gases in the air supplied by a compressor. They achieve this separation through methods such as pressure swing adsorption (PSA) or membrane nitrogen generation

Why rely on on-site nitrogen generation?

From cost savings to supplier independence, there many compelling reasons companies are switching to on-site generation for food and beverage packaging:

• The right nitrogen: Get the nitrogen flow, purity and quality your application requires.

No wait time: Your nitrogen supply is always ready. No need to order nitrogen from an external vendor and wait for delivery.

• Safety: Eliminate the risks associated with moving high-pressure cylinders.

• Sustainability: Eliminate the transportation emissions associated with gas deliveries.

• Lower cost: Operating costs are low and the investment pays off quickly.

Do you depend on a third-party supplier for your nitrogen? Are you ready for on-site nitrogen generation? Pneumatech makes it possible for you to produce the nitrogen you need in-house. Contact your local Pneumatech representative today for more information!

PSA Nitrogen Generators High Pressure Nitrogen Skids Application Food and beverage Membrane Nitrogen Generators