Modern Packaging in Support of Quality and Safety of Foods and Consumer Demand

author: Maria de Fatima Pocas, Universidade Catolica Portuguesa
published: Nov. 18, 2010,   recorded: October 2010,   views: 6404


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Packaging plays an essential role in the food supply protecting and containing food from processing and manufacturing, through distribution, handling and storage to the final consumer. Without packaging, food distribution would be a messy, inefficient and much more costly exercise. The packaging sector represents about 2 per cent of the GNP in developed countries and about half of all packaging is dedicated to food. Packaging functions may be described as: protection and containment; preservation; information; and convenience and service. These basic functions are, directly or indirectly, important for the physical, chemical and microbiological safety of foods. For the majority of food products, the protection afforded by the package is an essential part of the preservation process and the requirements for a packaging system intended for a fresh, frozen, dehydrated, thermal or aseptic processed product, in terms of oxygen, moisture and light barrier, etc. are all different. Departing from the basic functions of protection and preservation, packaging systems have evolved to more added value functions related to the function and use of the product. Packaging is also now a major source of information concerning the product, relevant at both the distribution and consumer levels. Traceability, which is key to modern concepts of food control, is unthinkable without the information represented on packaging. When products are being designed or altered, packaging-based details are key in assuring quality and safety, convenience of sizes and formats, service and support of busy modern lifestyles and environmental impact minimization. Of the convenience aspects demanded by the modern consumer, easy opening, reclosing between uses, dosing features, cook-in and oven safe packages are examples of how packaging can respond. This presentation addresses some of common packaging failures and how industry can deal with them and shows examples of modern packaging systems with focus on active and intelligent systems.

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