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The Science of Food Packaging

The Science of Food Packaging

Since the beginning of food transportation and storage, the main goal of packaged food was to contain it. Today, modern food packaging not only offers convenience, it also protects food products from damage, increases its shelf life and offers convenience for transport. Food packaging has come a long way from using natural materials to a vast variety of packaging materials. Today’s packaging design has altered how food is contained and distributed and it ultimately benefits both consumers and food manufacturers.

Food manufacturers must take many options into consideration such as FDA and USDA regulations when creating a product’s packaging. Anything from this list below could be a game changer:

  1. Name of the product
  2. Statement of identify
  3. Product’s net weight
  4. Nutrition facts panel
  5. Serving size
  6. Nutrients
  7. Vitamins and minerals
  8. List of ingredients
  9. Allergen statement
  10. Health claims
  11. Name and address of the manufacturer

Once a product has been packaged, it needs to be tested for safety at a laboratory. As soon as the product is approved, it can be sold to consumers.

A hot trend today is for food packaging to be environmentally friendly as well as keeping food contained. This can be a difficult task to manage on top of packaging food in an efficient manner. By using less packaging, you run the risk of not having as much physical protection for the food during its transportation journey. Losing food to damage during distribution involves more than just physical injury caused by packages being knocked around. Other factors such as temperature, moisture content, oxygen level, and microorganisms can affect food packages, making products spoil or unsafe before they reach the grocery store or consumers’ shelves.

There are new technologies in food packaging such as the terms “intelligent packaging” and “active packaging.” Intelligent packaging, also known as smart packaging, is when food packaging has a device that can measure temperature or relative humidity of the environment that the food product may go through. Active packaging takes it one step further- it can sense a change in the package and make an adjustment to improve the quality of the food package’s transportation process. These newer food packaging technologies are meant to extend shelf life, quality and the safety of food packaging.

Who knew that there were so many steps in the process of food labeling and packaging? And behind each of those steps are the highly trained individuals of the food supply chain. The next time you select a product off of the grocery store shelf, remember all of the hard working people that put in many efforts to make sure that you have safe and healthy food for your family.

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