The extended shelf life of modified atmosphere packaging has long been out of the picture for delicate items like fresh-cut watermelon or peaches.

A new modified atmosphere packaging system offered by Cougar Packaging Designers could change that.

The West Chicago, Ill.-based com-pany partnered with ARPAC-Hefestus USA to market its line of equipment to U.S. customers.

“This process is done with a vacuumless system,” said Mark Cottone, president of Cougar Package Designers. “Vaccum systems tend to be hard on the product itself. With this system, it is coming out of the package just like it went in.”

The system also is more energy efficient, using up to 90% less energy than a traditional vacuum system.

Enhanced food safety also is a benefit, Cottone said, since there are no vacuum tubes that could be contaminated by fruit or vegetable juice. 

The system works by lowering a film 3 millimeters from the edge of a tray and injecting an appropriate mix of gases into the tray before sealing.

A detailed video of the Hefestus machinery process is available at

Cougar Package Designers debuted the system at the United Fresh show in Las Vegas in May and plans to market it to fresh-cut processors nationwide.