RECENT ADVANCES IN FOOD PACKAGING

 INTRODUCTION

Packaging has evolved well beyond its initial function as a method of product preservation in recent years. It now plays a critical marketing role in generating shelf appeal, delivering product information, and establishing brand image and awareness.




Extended shelf life may be achieved using a modified environment, controlled atmosphere, and intelligent packaging, which can convey quality indicators. These changes are in response to rising customer demand for lightly preserved, fresh, flavorful, accessible food with a long shelf life and consistent quality. Packaging in the future will almost certainly be more than just a physical container that protects food.

We at the Food Research Lab offer Packaging Consulting services. We have assisted several food companies in adopting innovative packaging technologies to suit newer food industry developments.

 

ACTIVE AND INTELLIGENT/SMART PACKAGING

      Active packaging is a type of packaging that changes the state of the container and keeps it that way during the storage period to increase shelf life, improve safety, or improve sensory qualities while retaining the quality of the packed food. The term "intelligent packaging," sometimes known as "smart packaging," refers to packaging that does the following

 

      Packaging detects some characteristics of the food it contains or the environment in which it is stored and alerts the maker.

 

      the state of these characteristics and circumstances during shipping and storage to the merchant and customer

 

      Active Packaging materials are meant to actively preserve or enhance the state of the food, either by removing undesirable contaminants or by preventing them from entering the food.

A nanosensor is a tiny device that can attach to whatever it detects and then give back a signal. These small sensors can detect and respond to physicochemical (sensors) and biological (biosensors) signals, then convert the response into a sign or output that people can understand.

For the monitoring of internal and exterior variables in food packaging, several nanosensors have been created. Microbes, contaminants, pollutants, and, ultimately, the freshness of the food may all be detected with nanosensors. Nanoparticles can help packaging function while reducing the quantity of material needed. It can also enhance tensile strength by up to 40%, reducing the amount of film needed in pouch manufacturing.

 

 Nanoparticles can boost thermal stability by up to 350%, keeping food fresh and allowing it to be reheated in its original container. It can improve barrier characteristics against gas permeation, including oxygen and carbon dioxide, UV permeation, moisture, and volatile chemicals and generate active antimicrobial surfaces and nano biodegradable packaging materials.

Due to nanoscale fillers, food contact materials have enhanced flexibility, gas barrier characteristics, temperature control, and moisture stability. The impact of nano packaging on food is determined by the composition of the nanomaterial used. In addition to providing environmental protection, nanofillers minimize the usage of plastics as packaging materials and need less energy for manufacture and biodegradation, making them more environmentally friendly. Nanoparticles, nanotubes, fullerenes, nanofibres, nanowhiskers, and nanosheets are all examples of nanomaterials and nanoparticles.

 

ANTIMICROBIAL PACKAGING

Antimicrobial packaging combines food-packaging materials with antimicrobial chemicals, such as antibacterial nanoparticles incorporated into polymer films to prevent microbial surface contamination of foods.

The application of nano-silver antimicrobial food packaging is a unique method to food preservation and shelf-life extension. Antimicrobial packaging necessitates extensive contact between the food product and the packaging material; consequently, potential food applications include vacuum or skin-packaged items, such as vacuum-packaged meat, fish, chicken, or cheese.

Incorporation of antimicrobial substances into a sachet connected to the package from which the volatile bioactive substance is released during further storage; direct incorporation of antimicrobial agent into the packaging film; and coating of packaging with a matrix that acts as a carrier for the antimicrobial agent are the three basic categories of antimicrobial packaging systems.

 

EDIBLE COATINGS AND FILMS

Edible films and coatings are a thin layer of food-safe material that prevents moisture, oxygen, and solute movement. Because edible film coatings are an essential element of the food product, they should not obstruct sensory qualities.

 

Edible films and coatings must be selected for food packaging purposes based on specific uses, food product kinds, and critical quality degrading processes. Ingredients that are used in the production of

Hydrocolloids (such as proteins, polysaccharides, and alginate) and lipids (such as fats and oils) are the three types of edible films.

Materials with the capacity to create films can be used to make edible films. Film materials must be distributed and dissolved in a solvent such as water, alcohol, a combination of water and alcohol, or a mixture of other solvents throughout the production process. In this procedure, plasticizers, antibacterial agents, colours, and tastes can be added. Film solutions may be applied to food in various ways, including dipping, brushing, and spraying.

After spraying, brushing, and panning, the work is dried.

To retain high concentrations of preservatives on food surfaces, edible coatings and films can act as a transporter for antibacterial and antioxidant chemicals. Their presence might prevent moisture loss during storage, lower the rate of rancidity, which causes lipid oxidation and brown colouring, lower the load of spoilage and pathogen microorganisms on the surface of foods, and limit volatile taste loss. They can also act as a carrier for food components, enhancing mechanical integrity and simplifying product handling.


SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING

Because many packaging materials produce trash, sustainable and green standards suggest using biodegradable and ecologically friendly materials for food packaging. Polylactide acid (PLA) plastics, sugar cane pulp, fibre composites, starch-based films, and other materials are some of the materials that are being used to create sustainable packaging.

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition, a global organization with over 200 industry members, proposes the following definition of sustainable packaging:

1. Throughout its entire cycle, it is valid, safe, and healthy for individuals and communities.

2. It satisfies market performance and cost standards.

3. Renewable energy is used to obtain, produce, transport, and recycle it.

4. It makes the most of renewable and recycled resources.

5. It's made with eco-friendly production methods and best practices.

6. It is constructed from materials that are safe in all end-of-life circumstances.

7. It is built to maximize the use of resources and energy.

 

CONCLUSION

Changes in consumer preferences, the demand for convenience and quality, the decline in cooking skills, the limited time available for home meal preparation, the need to develop environmentally-friendly packages, and producer competition in developing shelf appealing packages have all contributed to advancements in food packaging technology. These pressures will fuel the packaging industry's dynamic nature, resulting in further food packaging developments.


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