The concept of controlled atmosphere for prolonging the life of fresh products (commodities and fruit), stored in bulk, dates back to World War I. As early as 1917, the Government, concerned about the food shortages during the World War, established the Food Investigation Organization (FIO). A leading fruit farmer pointed out the extensive spoilage of apples in storage as one of the major problems, to the Government. One Franklin Kidd and another Cyril West were appointed to study ways to improve fruit storage. Applying information obtained while studying seed germination, Kidd and West demonstrated that fruit ripening could be retarded by increasing carbon dioxide and lowering oxygen in the storage atmosphere. And, from that day onwards and still ongoing, constant efforts are being made to control the atmosphere surrounding commodities and fruit, to help improve business logistics and better serve the customer.
Controlled Atmosphere, in terms of business logistics, is the most technologically advanced process that is used to precisely control the atmospheric composition within the container throughout a shipment's entire journey. The ‘atmosphere’ being controlled is that in direct contact with the surface of the fresh product, and includes attempts to control oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, water vapor, and temperature. These ‘controlled atmospheres’ can be created either by:
a) Adding pure gaseous carbon dioxide or nitrogen
b) Low oxygen exhaust of hydrocarbon combustion or
c) Using the natural effects of respiration (grain, mould or insects) to reduce oxygen or increase carbon dioxide (Hermetic storage).
Two major classes of commodity can be stored in controlled atmosphere:
1. Dry commodities such as grains, legumes and oilseed, in which the primary aim of controlling the atmosphere is usually to control insect pests. Most insects cannot exist... [continues]
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