Researchers have studied the effects of oxygen absorbers on bacteria, yeast and mold present in food as well its color, appearance and odor. They have also researched consumer attitudes about using oxygen absorbers in food packaging.
In one study at Cornell University, researches compared ham slices stored with and without oxygen absorbers. Researchers found that oxygen absorbers reduced the psychrotrophic bacteria, mold and yeast in ham after a period of 79 days at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The ham that had oxygen absorbers in its packaging also retained its color better than the control group, although there was no difference in lipid oxidation, which causes a rancid odor in meat.
Another study on ham storage found oxygen absorbers prevented spoilage more effectively than vacuum sealing. Other studies have shown its effectiveness in preserving other types of foods, including reducing mold in cheese and baked goods and reducing oxidation in fish. Research shows that combining oxygen absorbers with oxygen barrier films in the packaging increases its effectiveness.
Research on consumer attitudes found that 5 percent of consumers have negative opinions about oxygen absorbers in food packaging, regardless of whether they had received information about its benefits. These consumers often had negative attitudes about food additives and long shelf lives in general. Most respondents, 72 percent, responded favorably and 23 percent were undecided.