After receiving approval from the FDA, Düsseldorf, Germany-based GEA said it began sales of its OxyCheck in the U.S. market. OxyCheck is the world’s first in-line measurement system that can check the oxygen content and seal integrity of every package in a modified atmosphere packaging line. It was introduced to the market at the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, held Jan. 28-30, 2020.

With OxyCheck, every modified atmosphere package is noninvasively 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 introduced in North America during 2018, has already been utilized in Europe with great success, GEA said.

According to GEA, more than half of all retail fresh food is packaged in modified atmosphere packaging. 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.

GEA said its 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 on the oxygen content inside the package. Sensor spot readers are installed on the GEA PowerPak Plus thermoformer after the package has been gas-injected and hermetically sealed.

GEA said it 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.