Use of oxygen sensors for the non destructive measurement of oxygen in packaged food and beverage products and its impact on product quality and shelf life
Hempel, Andreas W.
University College Cork
The principal objective of this thesis was to investigate the ability of reversible optical O2 sensors to be incorporated into food/beverage packaging systems to continuously monitor O2 levels in a non-destructive manner immediately postpackaging and over time. Residual levels of O2 present in packs can negatively affect product quality and subsequently, product shelf-life, especially for O2-sensitive foods/beverages. Therefore, the ability of O2 sensors to continuously monitor O2 levels present within food/beverage packages was considered commercially relevant in terms of identifying the consequences of residual O2 on product safety and quality over time. Research commenced with the development of a novel range of O2 sensors based on phosphorescent platinum and palladium octaethylporphyrin-ketones (OEPk) in nano-porous high density polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene (PP) polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) polymer supports. Sensors were calibrated over a temperature range of -10°C to +40°C and deemed suitable for food and beverage packaging applications. This sensor technology was used and demonstrated itself effective in determining failures in packaging containment. This was clearly demonstrated in the packaging of cheese string products. The sensor technology was also assessed across a wide range of packaged products; beer, ready-to-eat salad products, bread and convenience-style, muscle-based processed food products. The O2 sensor technology performed extremely well within all packaging systems. The sensor technology adequately detected O2 levels in; beer bottles prior to and following pasteurisation, modified atmosphere (MA) packs of ready-to-eat salad packs as respiration progressed during product storage and MA packs of bread and convenience-style muscle-based products as mycological growth occurred in food packs over time in the presence and absence of ethanol emitters. The use of the technology, in conjunction with standard food quality assessment techniques, showed remarkable usefulness in determining the impact of actual levels of O2 on specific quality attributes. The O2 sensing probe was modified, miniaturised and automated to screen for the determination of total aerobic viable counts (TVC) in several fish species samples. The test showed good correlation with conventional TVC test (ISO:4833:2003), analytical performance and ruggedness with respect to variation of key assay parameters (probe concentration and pipetting volume). Overall, the respirometric fish TVC test was simple to use, possessed a dynamic microbial range (104-107 cfu/g sample), had an accuracy of +/- one log(cfu/g sample) and was rapid. Its ability to assess highly perishable products such as fish for total microbial growth in <12 hr demonstrates commercial potential.
Shelf-life , Food packaging , Optical sensors , Sensory analysis , Optical O2 sensors , Modified atmosphere packaging , Ethanol emitters , Vacuum packaging
Hempel, A. W. 2014. Use of oxygen sensors for the non destructive measurement of oxygen in packaged food and beverage products and its impact on product quality and shelf life. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.