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Packaging for the Food Industry

Dr. Deryck Pattron -- Keeping chips crisp and unbroken, perishable produce fresh and nutritious, and gourmet goods visually appealing is food for thought if you're a package designer or food manufacturer.

Packaging is defined as any suitable material in which food is wholly or partly contained, placed, or packed.

Materials used in food packaging must not yield to the contents of the food stored therein. Some of the common packaging materials used for food include:

-- Paper
-- Glass
-- Metal
-- Ceramic
-- Plastics
-- Composites

Package design is dependent on the following:

-- Physical form of the food
-- Protection required
-- Availability of packaging material
-- Cost of packaging appropriate for food
-- Convenience of packaging material

Standards for testing package design:

(i) Mechanical properties:

-- Tensile strength
-- Percentage elongation
-- Bursting strength
-- Tearing strength
-- Folding endurance

(ii) Physicochemical properties:

-- Water absorption
-- Moisture vapor
-- Permeability to gases
-- Resistant to acids
-- Resistant to alkalis
-- Resistant to greases and oils
-- Resistant to organic solvents

(iii) Permanency properties:

-- Resistant to temperature variations
-- Resistant to sunlight
-- Resistant to storage
-- Resistant to flammability

Testing packaging designs

Testing package designs can be done at several institutions:

(i) The packaging Institute, New York, NY
(ii) The American Society for Testing Materials, Philadelphia, PA
(iii) The American Standards Association, New York, NY
(iv) The Bureau of Standards, Department of Commerce, Washington, DC

Functions of packaging:

(i) Protection:

-- Thermal changes
-- Humidity variations
-- Hazards of rough handling
-- Endure large periods of storage
-- Repel rodents and infestation

(ii) Convenience:

-- Storage
-- Handling

(iii) Appeal-attractiveness

(iv) Economy:

-- Source of revenue
-- Contribute to economy

Dr. Deryck D. Pattron is a Public Health scientist and specialist in Management in the Ministry of Health, Trinidad.

© 2005 Dr. Deryck D. Pattron

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