Active Packaging Solutions for Food Processing
February 09, 2012
Food processing packaging is a constant battle against the elements and time: keep oxygen out, keep humidity levels stable and extend the shelf-life of the product as much as possible. For this fight, you need the most up-to-date packaging solutions.
Does your packaging respond to the constant external and internal changes happening during the product lifecycle? How does your packaging film react to UV light? How does the seal hold up when oxygen levels drop?
The advent of more advanced active packaging has created a safer food processing world that gets more product to the consumer safely, keeps it fresh and looking tasty, extends the shelf life, reduces bad odors and can even help fight bacteria.
Active packaging items can vary from country to country, depending on food and safety regulations. Everything from ethanol to silver to sordic acid has been used.
Contamination of E. coli often occurs in the processing plant when otherwise safe meat and food products come in contact with the surface of a contaminated mechanism. This is important to note because the infestation of E. coli most often begins on the surface of the food and does not come from within.
In that way, fighting pathogens on the surface is a much easier battle to win and can often be fought using active packaging.
In one study, a food chemist at the Fraunhofer Institute found that a sordic acid solution placed on the base film of pork loin packaging could drastically reduce E. coli colonies. E. coli was intentionally placed on pork loins and stored at 8ºC for seven days under the treated base film and after that time the pieces with the active packaging treatment had their E. coli levels cut 75 percent.
Another active packaging solution for food processing is to modify the internal atmosphere of a package with Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP). Removing oxygen and vaccum-sealing the product is one method; however, there are also ways to insert inert gases, like nitrogen, into the packaging or other gases like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.
The key for MAP solutions is the right blend of gases and the right packaging film that blends permeability, transmission of water vapor and a tight seal.
In the fight against time, you need to know your food processing solutions meet regulatory compliance, maintain your products color, taste and texture and deliver a safe product to the stores.