Last Updated on December 8, 2022 by Hammad Hassan
Innovations in food processing and packaging are essential for maintaining the global food supply’s security. Foods can be transported safely over long distances without losing any of their nutritional value thanks to packaging, which also preserves the advantages of food processing. The technology used in food packaging must be weighed against other factors like rising energy and material costs, increased social and environmental consciousness, strict pollution regulations, and municipal solid waste disposal.
Food packaging serves three main functions: to contain food products, protect them from harm and environmental factors, and provide nutritional information to consumers. Traceability, convenience, and tamper indication are secondary functions that are becoming more significant. Food packaging aims to maintain food safety while preserving food and minimizing environmental impact.
Protects and Preserves
Food packaging can prevent product degradation, preserve the benefits of food processing, prolong shelf life, increase safety and quality, and keep food safe. Packaging protects against three major types of external influences: biological, chemical, and physical.
This minimizes compositional changes by reducing the effects of environmental influences like oxygen, moisture (gain or loss), and light (visible or infrared). Many packaging materials can offer a chemical barrier. For instance, materials like glass and metal offer a nearly impenetrable defense against chemicals and other environmental irritants. Plastic caps, for example, have some permeability to gases or vapors. Because the metal lids and caps’ gasket materials have some permeability, they can be sealed after being filled. Plastic packaging is more permeable than metal or glass, despite having many barrier qualities.
Biological defenses prevent rodents, insects, other animals, and microorganisms (pathogens or spoiling agents). It prevents disease and spoilage. Biological barriers also maintain conditions that prevent the ripening or aging of food. These barriers work through multiple mechanisms. They protect the packaging’s internal environment, prevent odor transmission, and limit access to the product.
This protects food from mechanical damage. It also provides cushioning against shock and vibration during distribution. Physical barriers are typically made from corrugated or paperboard materials and resist impacts, abrasions, and crushing damage. They are widely used as packaging for delicate foods like eggs and fresh fruit, as well as shipping containers. Proper packaging protects consumers against many hazards. Child-resistant closures, for example, prevent access to potentially hazardous products. To reduce the risk of broken glass containers, plastic packaging has taken the place of shampoo and soda bottles.
Marketing and Information
The package is frequently the first point of contact with a product before purchase. In a competitive market, unique packaging can increase sales. Packaging may be created to boost a product’s reputation or set it apart from rival brands. To accommodate recipes, for example, labels can be larger. Information is also provided to the consumer by the packaging. In terms of product identification, nutritional information, ingredient disclosures, net weight, manufacturer information, and packaging labeling, for instance, compliance with legal requirements is ensured by packaging labeling. Important details like brand identification, pricing, cooking instructions, and brand identification are also included in the paper food packaging. These enhancements can have an impact on waste disposal.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission defines “traceability” as “the ability to follow the movement of food through a specific stage(s) of production, processing, and distribution.” The three main goals of traceability are to improve supply management, facilitate trace-back for quality purposes, and differentiate and market foods with subtle and undetectable attributes ( Golan &others, 2004). Unique codes are added to the packaging labels of food manufacturing companies. This allows them to track their products through the distribution process. There are many formats for codes, such as printed barcodes on custom barcode labels and electronic radio frequency identification (RFID), and they can be read either manually or by machines.
Convenience attributes like product visibility, resealability, and ease of handling and disposal have an impact on packaging innovation. Food preparation and service time and effort can be reduced in large part by packaging. Microwavable packaging, oven-safe trays, and boil-in bags allow consumers to prepare a complete meal in a matter of minutes. New closures offer ease of opening, resealability, and special dispensing capabilities. A cookie manufacturer recently introduced a flexible bag that has a scoring section that allows for easy access to the cookies. A membrane that can be removed and reinstalled can be used to close the opening. Modern retail formats allow consumers to shop in one place and access food from all over the globe. This is thanks to advances in food packaging. These convenience features can add value to products and provide competitive advantages. However, they may have an impact on the amount of packaging waste that must be disposed of.
To reduce or completely prevent the possibility of food and pharmaceutical products being tampered with, special packaging features have been developed. Even though any package can be broken, tamper-evident features are not easily replaceable. Banding, special membranes, and breakaway closures are all examples of tamper-evident characteristics. Holograms are also a special printing option that is difficult to duplicate. Additional packaging materials are required for tamper-evident packaging. However, the benefits outweigh any disadvantages. A heat seal on medical packaging that has been chemically modified to change color upon opening is an example of a tamper-evident feature that does not require additional packaging materials.
Food Packaging Materials
Packaging design and construction are crucial in determining the shelf life of food products. The best packaging materials and technologies ensure that the product remains fresh and of high quality throughout distribution and storage. Glass, metals (aluminum foils and laminates; tinplate and tin-free); paper and board; as well as plastics, have been traditionally used in food packaging. A wider range of plastics has been made available in flexible and rigid forms. Today’s food packaging frequently combines different materials to enhance the aesthetic or practical qualities of each. The environmental impact of food packaging may be affected by advances in research. You can reduce your carbon footprint by choosing from a variety of eco-friendly packaging.
In conclusion, food packaging is an important part of the food industry. It helps to protect the food and keep it fresh while also providing information that can be useful to customers. By being aware of the different types of food packaging and their purposes, businesses can make sure their products are safe and easy to navigate. Always make sure your food is properly and effectively packaged with suitable materials.