Flexible Packaging Tomatoes wrapped in the clay-nanotube packaging are kept fresher
For this particular study, Ünal's team used a polyethylene (PE) film incorporated with clay nanotubes to block oxygen from penetrating it, while deterring the escape of water vapour and other gases. It also controls the build-up of ethylene by absorbing it. The researchers wrapped tomatoes, bananas and chicken meat in the clay-containing film to test its effectiveness over varying amounts of time; against food wrapped in plain PE. Tests showed that the food wrapped in the new film was better preserved. Despite successful study findings, the technology is still a work in progress, and needs to undergo more testing for safety and toxicity, according to Ünal. New material that doubles as oxygen scavenger Packaged food usually contains preservatives to extend its shelf-life. However, such preservatives may not necessarily be good for the body. Materials such as desiccants and oxygen absorbers are used in oxygen permeating packaged products. By using oxygen absorbers, companies can reduce the amount of preservatives they are using to provide fresh and organic goods to their consumers, according to materials firm Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America (MGCA) that manufactures FDA-approved oxygen absorbers. Ageless Omac Oxygen Absorbing Film is in itself an oxygen absorber, and is suitable for moist products like soups, condiments, fruit preserved in juice, and baked goods
MGCA is stepping up with a new technology that does not require the use of a separate packet of oxygen absorbers. Its Ageless Omac Oxygen Absorbing Film is in itself an oxygen absorber, and is suitable for moist products like soups, condiments, fruit preserved in juice, and baked goods.
The film is said to prevent discolouration and rancidity, which are adverse effects of oxidation, with MGCA stating that Ageless Omac was originally developed “to help liquid and paste-based foods to remain fresh for extended periods of time after heat treatments such as boiling or retort”. After a number of tests, it was found that the products did not have to be heat treated. In addition, the new film is able to work not only with liquid products, but also products with a water activity as low as 0.5. Enhanced protection for PET bottles and pouches Meanwhile, US-based flexible packaging and machinery supplier Performance Packaging has introduced an oxygen absorbing technology with its Airshield process, which recently received FDA approval for direct food and beverage contact applications and will be commercially launched next year. The Airshield process, which serves as an oxygen scavenger and barrier, chemically fends off oxygen in rigid and flexible packaging containing fitments or solid closures. “It includes a polymer-incorporated, powderbased additive, which removes oxygen trapped during the filling process and then acts as an enhanced-oxygen barrier to keep oxygen out of the container to extend the product’s shelf life,” said Rob Reinders, President of Performance Packaging. An advantage, particularly with blow-moulded PET bottles, according to Reinders, is that Airshield remains dormant until the packaging is filled. Current scavengers in the PET market activate once the bottle is made, limiting the time processors have to fill the bottles. Performance Packaging's Airshield has Furthermore, been used in its SipP spouts and caps the company for pouches says Airshield is a more cost-effective oxygen barrier agent for bottles than EVOH (ethylene vinyl alcohol) as it is less expensive; and adding it to a pouch cap eliminates the need for a foil liner, saving costs in manufacturing and allowing for consumer convenience. Thus, a clear cut solution to nail down food safety, at a time of expanding globalisation, and climate change, remains at hand with new packaging technologies. It is hoped that the new technologies will become a shared responsibility among the food industry, governments, and consumers, in Asia, too.