leak testing fresh foodModified Atmosphere Packaging lives and, well, breathes, by the integrity of its seals. It’s no good having the perfect combination of gases inside the pack if there’s a sneaky leak somewhere allowing other undesirable gases inside. Even the tiniest hole, no wider than half the width of a human hair, can disrupt the modified atmosphere inside the pack enough in just three days to let bacteria take hold. And when that happens, all hope is lost. Your produce will quickly deteriorate and spoil.

It’s thus absolutely imperative to make sure that all modified atmosphere packaging is exhaustively tested for leaks before it, and the produce it contains is despatched to customers.

But how to do this?

Looking Back At Leak Testing

Back in the day, a typical leak test consisted of immersing the pack in a water bath. In fact, this outdated and unreliable method is still being used by some food producers and packers today. Water bath testing involves pressurising the package under the water, either by squeezing it by hand, or by establishing a vacuum in the water container. Any leak is then detected by the telltale trail of bubbles escaping through the hole. Anyone who has ever dunked a bicycle tyre tube in a bucket of water to find a puncture will be very familiar with this method.

One of the (many) problems with this, however, is that, because it’s done manually, it’s impossible to repeat many times over with the exact same testing conditions. In addition, bubbles from leaks are often extremely tiny (remember, the hole is thinner than a single hair) so can easily be missed by the person looking for them.

A Simple Solution From Mapflex

Thankfully, technology has come to the rescue with more advanced, and accurate, ways to test for leaks in modified atmosphere packaging.

One such method involves inflating the pack under strictly controlled conditions. The pressure inside the package can be maintained at any given level, so, if it decreases, it is indicative of a leak. The extent of this leak can be measured and its impact calculated. Using this, and other methods, it’s now possible to automatically detect and reject defective packages without interfering with, or slowing down, the production line. These new systems offer non-destructive, online and off-line leak detection.

At Mapflex South Africa, we invest considerable resources into ongoing research, ensuring we take advantage of the latest technology available to bring you leak-free fresh food packaging solutions you can trust. Contact us today to find out more.