In many cases, product packaging can be nearly as important as the product itself. The packaging protects the contents, helps market the product and provides essential information to the consumers.
Proper packaging is especially important in the food industry. For the health and safety of the consumers, food manufacturers must make sure that their packaged products adhere to the Australia New Zealand Food Standard Code.
In this blog, we’re going to look at 5 main reasons food packaging shouldn’t be neglected.
- Prevents food contamination
When it comes to processing meat and other perishable food products, preventing cross-contamination is paramount. If proper protocols aren’t followed during the slaughter process, harmful bacteria from the animal’s intestines can spread to raw meat products. If the manufacturers aren’t careful, their products might end up containing E. coli, Yersinia or salmonella. Even cooked food can become contaminated if it comes into contact with raw meat.
Because of this, it’s essential that all food products (raw or cooked) are properly sealed and protected from contaminants. Quality control measures must be taken during the production process. This includes using package leak detectors and seal integrity testers to ensure that the packaging is properly sealed and does not have air leaks through which bacteria can enter.
Of course, it’s also important for the manufacturers to have the proper equipment (i.e., gloves, hairnets and masks) and to have an understanding of good personal hygiene.
- Keeps the food fresh
Improperly sealed packaging can also affect the product’s freshness. Indeed, some foods need to retain some level of moisture to remain fresh and flavourful. However, if the food product is not properly sealed, it will lose moisture and begin to dry out. For some foods, a lack of moisture can adversely affect their quality and taste.
Let’s take a look at bread as an example. Bread technically begins to go stale as soon as it leaves the oven. However, through proper packaging and by maintaining the ideal storage temperature, you can keep your bread fresh for a longer period of time.
- Lengthens shelf life
Exposure to air (and to oxygen in particular) can cause food to spoil. Just like humans, microorganisms need oxygen to thrive. As a result, if food is left in the open air for long enough, harmful bacteria can begin to thrive and develop within it. A common example of this is mould growing on old bread. If bread is exposed to humid air and warm temperatures, hyphae (filaments of mould) will begin to set themselves into the porous surface of the bread, making it unsafe to eat.
Moisture is another substance that can cause food to go bad. Just like oxygen, water promotes the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. If you’re not careful, the food will spoil early or, worse, become contaminated.
To prevent food from going bad early, you need to make sure that it is properly packaged. Unfortunately, sometimes, keeping the food products at a low temperature is not enough.
- Protects food from damage
Sometimes, the presentation of the product is just as important as its quality. For example, the main appeal of certain products is the shape of the food itself. You see this type of marketing with cookies, biscuits, cakes and cereal. There are even instances when the shape of the product is important to how you eat the food.Indeed, no one wants to eat a bag of crushed potato crisps. Crushed crisps can be difficult to eat and they simply don’t have the texture that crisps are known for.
If such foods aren’t protected from physical damage, the product might lose its marketing appeal. As such, the packaging must be able to protect the contents while in transit. Strong, sturdy materials like cardboard or plastic are ideal when it comes to protecting food products.
- Makes the food tamper-resistant
It’s important that food packaging has a way of warning consumers about whether or not a particular product has been tampered with. This could be done with a shrink band, a tamper-proof label or a tamper-evident liner like you see on milk products. If any of these are broken, then the consumer will know that the product has been opened and is unsafe to consume.
As you can see, food packaging is more than just for show. They exist in order to preserve the quality of the food and to ensure that each product is protected from physical damage and harmful bacteria. As a food manufacturing business, you must take the necessary steps to ensure that the products that you put in store shelves are safe for consumers to eat.