More accurate shelf-life with new calibration kit

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Shelf life Carbon dioxide

Less downtime, more accurate shelf life forecasts and reduced food spoilage are promised for a new calibration package, incorporating both hardware and software, from US-based Mocon, manufacturer of headspace gas analyzers for packaging.

The new Cal-Smart calibration system is available on many of Mocon’s Pac Check series headspace analyzers, which test food packages for residual oxygen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide levels.

Headspace analyzers, used for a wide variety of food packaging applications including cheese, meat, poultry, seafood, prepared meals, pasta, baked goods, fresh produce, carbonated soft drinks and coffee, can go out of calibration for two reasons - a leak or a defective part or intrinsic drift inherent with electronic components.

Incorrect calibration can thus lead lower than forecast shelf life and product spoilage.

Two point calibration

Cal-Smart, using one-button calibration, uses ambient air and electronic controls to perform a two-point calibration compared with commonly used certified gas methods: “It’s the only system to adjust both Zero and Span,”​ the company’s Guy Wray told

He said that other systems only calibrate the 21 per cent oxygen point but calculating this point does not mean the zero point is correct: "For example, if you’re measuring close to zero oxygen, a 21 per cent calibration doesn’t improve near zero readings. Most people are measuring low amounts of O2 and that’s where the Zero becomes very important."

Two-point calibrations are fast and easy, improving the instrument's accuracy and repeatability while significantly reducing intervals between more time consuming certified gas calibrations, continued Wray.


He said that the unit also has temperature and pressure compensation for test consistency.

“With the emphasis on cost reduction and sustainability, simple fast, accurate, and cheap calibration of instruments that determine the shelf life of foods is a step in the right direction for any company with O2 levels,”​ said Wray.


Anthony Ahmed, product manager at Mocon, added: "Cal-Smart self-diagnoses electronic drift and corrects it. Typical calibration methods can usually catch problems with a defective part, but it doesn't catch the electronic drift. The latter is the slow, hard-to-find, silent killer when it comes to accuracy."

Cal-Smart is now a standard feature on Pac Checks 333, 325 and 302 which remain at the same price, said Mocon.

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