Meat and meat products traditionally used to be sold fresh. The current consumption habits of our society and the changes in the buying patterns cause that the meat industry has changed the fresh sale for the packaged sale of meat and meat products.
The main problems associated with the traditional meat packaging are: firstly, the exposure to oxygen, what mainly happens in non-hermetic systems; secondly, the loss of humidity, due to the meat exudation; and finally, the development of undesirable odours and flavours, which generally appear because of the generation of volatile gases, inside packagigns. Moreover, we have to keep in mind the microbiological activity of not-thermally-processed meat products and also the importance of maintaining the red colour of meat.
Nowadays, the meat industry is using two preferential techniques when packaging their products: vacuum and modified atmosphere packaging.
We are currently working on the development of active packaging in order to increase the shelf life of meat. Active packagings incorporate substances that interact with food in order to make longer their conservation, thus keeping their organoleptic properties and the quality of the product as much time as possible.