The application of low oxygen through modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is a technique used successfully to preserve the visual quality of lettuce and some other commodities. The expansion of use of low O2 via MAP to preserve quality of most commodities is limited by technical difficulties achieving target O2 concentrations, adverse physiological responses to low O2, and lack of beneficial responses to low O2. Low O2 often is not used simply because the physiological responses governed by the gas are not limiting quality maintenance. For instance, shelf life may be governed by decay susceptibility, which is largely unaffected by low O2 and may actually be exacerbated by the conditions encountered in hermetically sealed packages. Physiological processes influenced by low O2 and limit storability are discussed. The interdependence of O2 concentration, O2 uptake by the product, and temperature are discussed relative to requirements for packaging films.
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