Food is one product that needs careful packaging. This is because of the strict regulations and standards imposed in relation to health issues arising from wrong packaging. Accordingly, food packaging materials should be suitable to provide superior health protection and convenience to consumers as well as low impact on the environment. For your packaging needs, there are different materials to choose from for food and beverage:
Glass: This is a type of material that can be formed in various shapes and can be recycled without much change in mechanical properties. Although it needs high temperature in forming, glass packaging material has very good barrier properties and impermeability from gases and water vapor. It is mainly used for the production of bottles and jars, which can be pasteurized at high temperature. If there’s one drawback of glass as a packaging material for food products, it’s its brittleness. They easily break when subjected to insensitive handling.
Metal: It has been a base in packaging for a long time. It’s mainly used in the production of cans, metallic trays, foils and bags for food products. Like glasses, metals have very good barrier properties but needs to be sterilized before packaging food and beverage. It can also be used for frozen and heated meals. Disadvantages of metals as food packaging include the high cost, corrosion for some types and opaqueness that consumers can’t see what’s inside.
Paper and cardboard: These materials from wood are made mainly used for dry food such as sugar, salt, bread, flour and others. Paper is light, easy printable but permeable to air, water vapor and gases. They are very cheap materials and yet can be easily customized to various shapes and sizes. Paper as packaging material has very low impact on environment because of its highly sustainable property.
Plastic: Plastic packaging for food products is becoming widely popular even for microwave operation. Plastic can be synthetic and biodegradable. Synthetic plastic is characterized by a low-cost production, good mechanical barrier properties, lightweight, elastic, can be recycled but non-biodegradable. Biodegradable plastics are specially processed for the materials to decompose at specific manners.
Mixed materials (laminates): Packaging materials of this type is composed of few thin layers of different materials like metallic plastic and paper films. They also have very good barrier properties and laminate packaging is airtight that increases the shell life of products.
Active and intelligent packaging: Food packaging materials, which contain substances that prolong shelf-life. These substances are mainly oxygen and ethylene absorbers. They could also be compounds emitting or binding oxygen dioxide, regulating water, antioxidants and antibacterial substances.
Nanocomposites: They are new-generation packaging with specific properties which improve mechanical and barrier properties. They are usually applied to production of bottles or films with very low permeability for oxygen and water vapor. This one though is relatively expensive but can be recycled.
Food and beverages deserve the best packaging materials because of health concerns. Issues about economics should not compromise the quality of food packaging. People are becoming more health conscious and very discriminating about the food and drinks they bring in their stomach. Accordingly, food packaging materials should provide the utmost protection to the products for human consumption.