Role of Advanced Packaging in Food Safety and Marketing

Aug 7

Introduction

In the growing challenges of modern society, the packaging technology of food products is going through continuous evolution. The awareness regarding food safety issues is increasing among consumers day by day. Additionally, the issue of sustainable food products and packaging materials has become critical for consumers and business organizations. Advanced packaging enables us to develop safe food products that retain high quality and have a longer shelf life.

Active food packaging and intelligent packaging are the most innovative among advanced food packaging. In addition, edible food packaging and sustainable packaging also fall under the umbrella of advanced food packaging.

Types of Advanced Food Packaging:

There are several advanced food packaging techniques. The research and innovation in the field are continually adding to that number. In this article, we will discuss the most common ones and try to address what impact these packaging techniques play in food safety and marketing.

1.     Active Food Packaging:

In this, a packaging system has added one or more constituents either incorporated into the packaging film or added/introduced into the headspace to perform a specific function, such as maintaining the product's quality attributes, sensory profile, and food safety.

Specifically, Active packaging is used to perform one or more of the following functions:

  • Elimination of an undesirable component: Oxygen and ethylene activity can deteriorate food post-harvest or packaging conditions. So, it’s very important to eliminate those or minimize their activity. For this purpose, oxygen and ethylene scavengers are commonly used in meats, cheese, bread, and food packaging.
  • Prevention of microbial growth: For example, Carbon dioxide (CO2) is often introduced in a package to retard the growth of aerobic microorganisms.
  • Introducing a favorable/desired component: CO2 emitters are often used in coffee, fresh meat, and fish packaging.
  • Enhancing and modifying the physical condition of the food, for example, hygroscopic compounds. Moisture absorbers are often used in snack foods, cereals, and poultry products.


All of the above functions help in extending the shelf life of the product. These also play a major role in maintaining food safe by reducing microbial growth. Moreover, advanced packaging helps in better marketing of the food product by building consumers’ confidence in the product.

2.     Intelligent packaging:

The term intelligent packaging refers to a type of packaging material that can monitor the internal condition of the packaged food as well as the environment of the food inside the package, such as pH and temperature (Sharma and Goshal, 2014).

It can sense, detect, and trace the changes within the package. Then it can show these changes on indicators/tags on the packaging film. This enables the customer to make an informed decision regarding the food freshness, safety, and integrity of the product. We can divide these intelligent systems into three categories:
  • Indicators: Freshness indicators, time-temperature indicators, and integrity indicators
  • Sensors: Biosensors and gas sensors
  • Radiofrequency identification system (RFID): These are used to identify, control and manage the goods through the supply chain

Therefore, intelligent packaging enables the customer to judge the food product based on their desired preferences. It allows them to make an informed decision i.e., it can indicate if your beverage is hot or chilled. In this way, it facilitates a customer to choose between products and hence helps promotes marketing.
Figure 1. Intelligent food packaging for food safety, food authenticity and marketing (Source: Nešić et al., 2019)

3.    Edible food coating:

Fruits are coated with thin edible packaging films made of natural organic material. The three main components used in the fabrication of edible films are:
  • Polysaccharides (gums, starch, and their derivatives)
  • Proteins (gluten, gelatin)
  • Waxes and lipids


Primarily, proteins and polysaccharides offer specific satisfactory optical and mechanical properties but are highly sensitive to moisture. Companies use waxes to aid in moisture retention and act as a humidity barrier. The nature of the food product, as well as the functions that we want our packaging film to perform to prevent quality deterioration and shelf life, determine the proportions of the constituents that we use in edible films.

4.    Sustainable packaging:

Food and environmental safety organizations, as well as competent authorities like the United States Food and Drug Administration(FDA), recommend the use of environment-friendly and biodegradable packaging materials because synthetic packaging materials harm the environment. There has been a renewed focus on developing sustainable and biodegradable packaging.  Starch-based biofilms, fibre composite, sugarcane pulp, and polylactide acid plastics (PLA) are some examples of sustainable food packaging.

Role of Advanced Food Packaging

Advanced food packaging plays a very critical role in ensuring food is safe. Maintaining the health and well-being of the consumer is a priority. Food packages must endure material handling, shipping, and storage of packaged food.  It compromises food suitability and safety when the integrity of the food package is not thoroughly tested and maintained. All the food systems certification standards/organization emphasizes maintaining food and food authenticity and food package integrity.

Advanced packaging helps in protecting the food product from external factors like heat, contamination, physical damage, microbial invasion, and much more. Proper handling of advanced food packaging even saves the product from internal factors like oxygen, ethylene, and so on.

Advanced food packaging ensures that the food product you are consuming is as safe as possible. With the continuous rise in ready-to-eat food commodities, it is becoming more and more crucial for food-producing organizations to use advanced food packaging, to ensure food authenticity, integrity and suitability. Following are some reasons why advanced packaging is so important for maintaining food safety:

1.    Protection from contamination:

A major role of the food package is to protect food from contamination. Food produced around the world must undergo extensive shipping and transport to reach its target market. As a result, food products are prone to contamination and bacterial invasion. Hence, the use of advanced packaging is so important in maintaining food authenticity and food integrity. Advanced food packaging makes use of package leak detectors e.g, Flexpak, and package seal detectors. If there is any leakage, the detectors detect it and inform the customer that the integrity of this product has been compromised.

Food safety certification organizes plays a major role in ensuring that food organizations are following strict guidelines to ensure procedures of food safety (Yan et al., 2022).

2.    Improving product’s shelf life:

Advanced food packaging plays a critical role in improving the shelf life of the product. Poor food packaging compromises the shelf life of the product. The majority of people believe that cold temperature would preserve the food, this fact is just partially correct.

Besides this, food also needs to be saved from internal factors. The food product will deteriorate if it is exposed to an unfavorable internal environment such as oxygen, ethylene, or moisture. So, that's where advanced food packaging acts handy, as it modifies the internal environment of packaged food by removing oxygen with oxygen scavengers, introducing CO2 with CO2 emitters, and removing moisture with hygroscopic substances.

3.    Maintains the freshness of the food items:

The advancements in food packaging technology have enabled the transfer of food products grown in Latin America and Africa to be consumed in The Middle East, North America and New Zealand. It indicates that the quality and freshness can be preserved by using appropriate packaging. Similarly, advanced food packaging has changed the way food is transported around the world. It has set new safety and quality parameters for international food organizations that the end consumer expects. Advanced food packaging allows the consumers to enjoy the food commodities without the fear of negative effects on health.
Food packaging innovation keeping coffee beans longer, fresh and better food safety and authenticity. Food Surety Blog

4.    Preventing food tampering and food fraud:

It is necessary to make the food package temper-proof to ensure food safety and for the prevention of food fraud and food defence attacks. The food in the tampered food package is unsafe to use. Advanced packaging can help prevent tampering issues. It helps to use tamper evident labels on the product which can indicate the tampered status of the package.

In addition, this system includes the use of special food packaging membranes, printing features, graphics, and breakaway closures that change in response to tampering, thus indicating deliberate tampering and providing us with an assurance that the package is intact and safe to use.

Role of competent authorities like FDA in Advanced Food Packaging and Food Safety:

As advanced food packaging makes use of unconventional packaging materials, the FDA regulates the packaging materials to ensure the no-use of any added harmful constituents. The substances used in food products are all regulated by FDA. It also regulates the processing method of food to ensure its integrity, the packaging process, also the inks and graphics used on the labels to ensure food safety. FDA thoroughly analyze the products and grant food safety certificates to the product that are safe for human consumption.

In addition, FDA also maintains the databases, educational information, and listings that relate to ingredients in the food. In addition, the food processors can use additives, allergens, Generally Recognised as Safe (GRAS), and color substances in the advanced food packaging, food contact surfaces, or in the product itself.

Role of Advanced Food Packaging in Product Marketing

In today's market, the packaging is one of the most important assets because it allows the manufacturer to communicate with the customer, providing them with a detailed overview of the product without the need for a salesperson. Good packaging acts as a salesman without being on the payroll.

Apart from this, the appropriate color, vivid picture, package that is easy to open/handle/dose/dispose and package shape all contribute towards delivering a happy and content feeling. Furthermore, all these factors, when combined help the product catch consumers’ attention. This helps in promoting the product in the competitive market (Raheem et al., 2014).

There are a few advantages that advanced packaging has over conventional packaging. For instance, a consumer can check the product with the naked eye with the help of integrated systems in advanced packaging.

As a result, it can continuously monitor the package's internal conditions and provide the customer with food safety information. It can serve as a warning about a potential problem and detect mishaps during transportation. Advanced packaging allows customers to make informed purchasing decisions. For example, if a customer is traveling and needs a chilled beverage on the go, the temperature sensors will inform the customer about the temperature of the can that whether it is cold enough or not. As a result, it benefits customers and increases sales (Yan et al., 2022).

Recent Developments on the Role of Packaging in Product Marketing

Recently, there is a raised level of awareness among the customers regarding the consumption of safe and nutritious food. Most of the customers pay keen attention to the nutritional label and the condition of the food. The advanced packaging technology helps promote marketing by increasing the involvement of the customer. It helps in building the consumer's confidence in the product, by providing them with top-notch information about the intactness of the package, the freshness, and ripeness level. In addition, it even provides information about the environment of food via biosensors and RFID, resulting in better marketing.

Conclusion:

Advanced food packaging is a major upgrade over conventional food packaging. It provides several technological advances which result in increased shelf life, preserved quality, and maintained food safety of the product. Moreover, advanced packaging has a major impact on consumer behavior towards the product, which results in better marketing.

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