Oxygen is the fundamental requirement of every living being. But it is also the main reason for the spoiling of food and rusting of metals. This can mainly pose a threat in packaged food. And you cannot use any chemical to remove the oxygen because those chemicals will also react with the food products, making them toxic and unfit to consume. The best solution to avoid food spoilage from oxygen is by using absorbers. Oxygen absorbers are also known as oxygen scavengers. Scavengers are substances that remove unwanted products when added to a particular package. FDA standard approved food grade and pharma grade o-busters to help protect the packed food items. Due to their oxygen killing characteristics, they are also called o-busters.
Oxygen scavengers are basically small porous sachets containing a mixture of powdered irons and sodium chloride. Iron is the active ingredient responsible for the process of oxidation. The iron in the packet absorbs 99.9% of the oxygen in the container and begins to rust. It gives out nitrogen which is helpful in keeping insects and pests at bay. O² scavengers react rapidly with oxygen, passivate steel surfaces, have volatility and can be safely handled. Because they do not discharge any harmful gases or toxic elements, it is safe to use them in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Oxygen scavengers are designed to remove or decrease oxygen levels from inside packaged products, especially vacuum packing. They help to prevent the growth of fungus mold, mildew, and bacteria. In this way, they increase the shelf life of a product. Usually, each package is about 20cc to 3000cc o-busters in size. Sometimes, even zeolite and water are also used in absorbers. Water-based oxygen scavengers are generally used in seawater injection and production separation systems as a tool to prevent oxygen-induced corrosion.
The oxygen scavengers create oxygen depriving environment to help keep the packed food fresh. Hence they are used in packing of coffee and nuts, spices, seasoned foods, cheeses, and dairy products, fruits and some vegetables, berries, and sauces, snacks, cured meat, flour, and grain items, Bread, cookies, cakes, pastries, medical diagnostic kits and devices, and pharmaceutical products. As the oxygen scavengers are approved by the FDA, they are safe to be used in food packing and pharmaceutical packing.