Due to increased demands for greater expectation in relation to quality, convenience, safety and extended shelf-life, combined with growing demand from retailers for cost-effective extensions of fresh muscle foods’ shelf-life, the food packaging industry quickly developed to meet these expectations. During the last few decades, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) of foods has been a promising area of research, but much remains to be known regarding the use of unconventional gases such carbon monoxide (CO). The use of CO for meat and seafood packaging is not allowed in most countries due to the potential toxic effect, and its use is controversial in some countries. The commercial application of CO in food packaging was not then considered feasible because of possible environmental hazards for workers. CO has previously been reported to mask muscle foods’ spoilage, and this was the primary concern raised for the prohibition, as this may mislead consumers. This review was undertaken to present the most comprehensive and current overview of the widely-available, scattered information about the use of CO in the preservation of muscle foods. The advantages of CO and its industrial limits are presented and discussed. The most recent literature on the consumer safety issues related to the use of CO and consumer acceptance of CO especially in meat packaging systems were also discussed. Recommendations and future prospects were addressed for food industries, consumers and regulators on what would be a “best practice” in the use of CO in food packaging. All this promotes high ethical standards in commercial communications by means of effective regulation, for the benefit of consumers and businesses in the world, and this implies that industrialized countries and members of their regulatory agencies must develop a coherent and robust systems of regulation and control that can respond effectively to new challenges.
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