Why do we vacuum pack foods? | Food packaging methods and principles

Why do we vacuum pack foods? Food packaging methods and principles

Food is very important to everyone. There are different foods and food processing methods for different types of people. Not only it is better to process different types of food, but also it should also be packaged very well. Food packaging is the enclosing of food to protect it from damage, spoilage, contamination, pest attack, and tempering during transport, storage, and retail sale. There are several types of packaging materials such as glass, metals, paper and paperboard, and plastics that food companies can use. In addition, there are different food packaging methods and principles for different types of food. Why do we vacuum pack foods? This is one of the methods that we consider under the food packaging methods.

Vacuum packaging

This is a procedure in which air is removed from the package before sealing, but no other gas is introduced. For products such as cold cuts and cheeses, this method has been used for several years. This is one of the methods that we can discuss under the food packaging methods and principles.

Why do we vacuum pack foods?

The purpose is to preserve the quality of the product (Ensure the flavor, taste, color, aroma, nutritional value). This packaging method removes oxygen from the container to extend the shelf life of the product. It causes less food spoilage and less wasted food. Then we can buy foods at a reduced cost. Also, vacuum packaging protects foods from external sources. This method prevents food from dehydration. Also, this method prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and molds. No need for other additives to preserve foods. These are very important benefits of vacuum packaging and these benefits are the reasons for vacuum packaging.

Also, there are several other types, such as aseptic packaging, active packaging, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP), edible packaging, and nano packaging.

Aseptic packaging

A process in which a food product, such as ultra-high temperature (UHT) milk and its packaging. Products are sterilized separately, then combined and sealed under a sterile atmosphere. Increase shelf life. Also, use in the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that medications aren’t polluted with harmful bacteria.

Active packaging

When considering “Why do we vacuum pack foods?” active packaging is another packaging method. This allows the active preservation of food. Modifying the environment inside the package by removing unnecessary gases or by controlling the composition of gases in the package’s headspace according to your needs. As scavengers and emitters, active systems can categorize according to their functionality. The action can be specific to several substances (O2, ethylene, etc.). Substances that either absorb (scavenge) or release (emit) gases or vapors can regulate the internal atmosphere.

Oxygen scavengers

Oxygen may have major damaging effects on food when considering food packaging methods and principles. Therefore, oxygen scavengers can maintain the quality of the food product in various ways. Those are decreasing food metabolism, oxidative rancidity, oxidation of pigments and vitamins, and inhibiting the growth of aerobic microorganisms. The most common oxygen scavengers come in the form of small sachets containing various iron-based powders containing catalysts. These chemical systems often react with water supplied by food to produce a reactive hydrated metal reducing agent that scavenges oxygen in food packaging and irreversibly converts it to a stable oxide. The primary benefit of using such oxygen scavengers is that they can reduce the amount of oxygen to less than 0.01 %. Chemical reduction agents, such as ascorbic acid, contain non-metallic scavengers. Non-metallic scavengers include organic reducing agents. Ascorbic acid is an example of that.

There are several characters of oxygen scavengers. Those are,

  • Does not produce toxic substances or odors and safe
  • Easy handling
  • Compact in size and absorbs a large amount of oxygen
  • Have an adequate oxygen absorption rate

Ethylene scavengers

Ethylene (C2H4) is a plant hormone that increases the rate of respiration and subsequent senescence of horticultural products such as fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Many effects of ethylene are required (Induction of flowering in pineapples and development of color in citrus fruits, bananas, and tomatoes). But in most horticultural situations it is desirable to remove ethylene or suppress its effects.

Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP)

This is a method of replacing the air with a predetermined mixture of gases within a package before sealing it. Carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and gaseous oxygen involve in modified atmosphere packaging.

Edible packaging

Edible packaging is another method that we can consider under the food packaging methods and principles. An edible package is defined as a thin layer of edible material. It is formed on food as a coating or which is placed (preform) on or between food components. Natural polymers for the production of edible packaging have been widely studied. In order to create edible films, various polysaccharides (starch and hydrocolloids), proteins (whey protein, soy protein, and fish protein), and lipids have been used, either individually or in mixtures. There are some benefits of edible films and coatings, such as edibility, biocompatibility, barrier properties, and absence of toxicity, the fact that they are not polluting, and low cost.  In addition, biofilms and coatings, alone or as carriers of food additives (antioxidants and antimicrobials). Due to its ability to extend shelf life, this considers, especially for food preservation.

Nano packaging

This is another packaging method that we can consider under “Why do we vacuum pack foods?” Nanoscale innovation could introduce many surprising improvements to food packaging in the form of barrier and mechanical properties, detection of pathogens, and active packaging with food safety and quality benefits. It enables designers to alter the structure of packaging materials on the molecular scale, to give the material the desired properties.

Examples,

  • Plastics can be given various gas and water vapor permeabilities to fit the requirements of various foods with different nanostructures.
  • Better thermal and mechanical performance, and less gas absorption.
  • These properties help to increase the shelf-life and sensory characteristics of food products.
  • The addition of nano-sensors to food packages can use to detect chemicals, pathogens, and toxins in foods.

These are the food packaging methods and principles that use in the packaging industry. Mainly you can get a clear idea about “Why do we vacuum pack foods?” These are very important when considering the packaging industry.

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