After receiving approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) GEA begins sales of the innovative GEA OxyCheck in this important market. OxyCheck is the world’s first in-line measurement system that can check the oxygen content and seal integrity of every single package in a modified atmosphere packaging line.
With GEA OxyCheck, every MAP (Modified Atmosphere Package) is non-invasively inspected for oxygen content after sealing on a GEA thermoformer. Up until now, packages had to be damaged by a probe and testing was limited to a small sample coming off the line. The demo version, initially presented in North America during 2018, has already been utilized in Europe with great success.
“OxyCheck will be an important add on to our thermoforming equipment. Large customers have already shown interest and are waiting for the new technology, ” says Steve McGady, GEA Head of Equipment Sales, Slicing and Packaging, North America.
Today, more than half of all retail fresh food – meat, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables, confectionery and baked goods as well as dairy products – is packaged in a modified atmosphere. During this process, a gas mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen is injected into a package prior to sealing. This slows down decay, thus extending the shelf life of the packaged product. A small percentage of oxygen remains in the package by virtue of the process, but this may not exceed a threshold. GEA OxyCheck carries out the important task of monitoring the residual oxygen content directly during packaging on the GEA PowerPak PLUS thermoformer.
The GEA technology uses a sensor spot made of an FDA approved polystyrene-based fluorescent dye that is printed on the inside of the top film. Similar to an indicator strip, the wavelength of the sensor spot changes depending upon the oxygen content inside the package. Sensor spot readers are installed on the GEA PowerPak PLUS thermoformer after package has been gas injected and hermetically sealed. GEA has developed a special method for calculating the oxygen concentration based on the light emitted and the temperature. The new measurement system has no effect on either the line speed or the throughput of the GEA PowerPak PLUS.
GEA OxyCheck can be installed as an optional feature on the latest generation of PowerPak thermoformer. All existing machines that are equipped for MAP can be outfitted with this monitoring system. The system can then be configured to reflect on-site conditions and customer needs. OxyCheck does not impair the performance of the packaging machine in any way. Consumers, retailers and manufacturers benefit from using the monitoring system, says the company.