Active and intelligent packaging

Streamlining the food supply chain

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Active and intelligent packaging
Debabrata Deb of Future Formats

At the inaugural Packaging Design Innovation Technology (PDIT) conference held in Mumbai and organized jointly by IPPStar and Messe Dusseldorf India, stakeholders from the consumer product, food and packaging industries deliberated on key technologies that can help avoid food wastage. Debabrata Deb of Future Formats made a detailed technology presentation on how active and intelligent packaging plays a critical role in reducing food wastage. He said, Active packaging is an integral part of not just food-grade packaging but also pharmaceutical and other perishable consumer products in distribution, retail, food service and home consumption.

In the PDIT Conference in Mumbai in December 2016, Deb spoke about the many factors that cause food deterioration such as microbiological, enzymatic and biochemical compounds, and why it needs to be processed to control and minimize such deterioration over the product’s life till consumption. “Active packaging is designed to deliberately interact with the food and its environment after packaging and it works when two key requirements are met—the packaging should have suitable barrier properties and the pack seal is hermetic. The other aspects of active food packaging design include headspace conditions (RH, oxygen, microbial load), storage temperature, the incidence of light and UV, and atmospheric humidity,” explained Deb.

He pointed out that moisture regulation in active packaging is achieved through salts that balance the moisture in the product, whereas anti-microbials prevent the growth of micro-organisms in the form of fungi and bacteria in the food. The most important active packaging component is oxygen scavengers as 70% of all active packaging is driven by oxygen scavengers, which have the largest commercial application, such as sachets of reduced iron oxygen scavengers inserted inside the pack. “All oxygen scavengers are anti-oxidants and typically intercept, absorb and scavenge to reduce oxygen levels in the food,” he went on to say.