Food packaging for the purposes of preservation and transport is a practice that dates back to ancient civilizations. In today’s industrial food processing world, food packaging is presentational and technical. The presentational aspects relate to brand recognition and visually appealing to customers. The technical aspects are more important, as they provide condensation prevention, extend the shelf life of goods and help protect the health of consumers. By properly protecting food packaging that’s in cold storage and selecting the appropriate types of packaging, processing and manufacturing facilities will experience fewer food-related losses and greater levels of consumer satisfaction.
Implications of Poorly Planned Food Packaging and Condensation Prevention Failures
- Growth of microorganisms: When excessive moisture infiltrates food packaging in cold storage, it prompts the growth of bacteria and mold, even in pasteurized foods and areas considered clean. The growth and spread of mold and bacteria in food leads to spoilage and potentially dangerous food-borne illnesses. Poor ventilation mixed with high moisture levels are particularly conducive to the growth and spread of harmful microorganisms.
- Food-related losses: The proper moisture content in food is vital to its safety, longevity, taste and texture. The wrong type of packaging could lead food products to lose the qualities that consumers seek.
- Packaging breakdowns: Without condensation prevention in cold storage facilities, high relative humidity levels may cause packaging seals to come loose. Similarly, bacterial or mold growth may break down the adhesives in sealed packages, as well as the cellulose within the packaging.
- Decreased product quality: When poor packaging results in excess moisture around food, the conditions may lead to the breakdown of vitamins and minerals, decreasing a product’s nutritional value.
Selecting Packaging for Cold Storage Foods
The best type of packaging for foods placed in cold storage depends on factors, such as:
- The type of food
- Ingredients in the food
- The food’s shelf life
- The food’s stability in the presence of light and oxygen
- The type of processing that the food product undergoes
When selecting food packaging, it is important to know the acceptable permeability limits by calculating different factors in food, such as the acceptable oxygen gains and the acceptable percentage of water gains or losses. At the same time, one must consider if packaging has the appropriate qualities, such as being:
- Made from food-grade material
- Suitable for direct contact with food
- Chemically inert
- Impermeable to gas, moisture and aromas
- Resistant to impact damage
- Resistant to oils
- Able to withstand freezing
- Heavy or lightweight
- Protective against light intrusion
- A shield against microorganisms
- Manufactured in a manner that’s safe for food
- Long lasting
- Simple to sterilize
- Simple to store
- Good or poor at transmitting heat
- Able to seal well
- Resistant to high or low temperatures
- Able to hold foods that are stable (e.g., oils and fats) or instable (e.g., some dairy products)
- Able to hold the intended amount of food, or fill, weight
- Kept in an environment that’s pest-free during storage
In addition to choosing food packaging that promotes condensation prevention and other issues that degrade food, it’s important to consider the cold storage area itself. The area should be clean, frost-free and at the appropriate temperatures and relative humidity levels. Otherwise, foods can experience problems similar to poor packaging choices. Polygon offers temporary humidity control solutions that allow food processing and manufacturing facilities create the ideal environments in the critical areas of a building—from food preparation to cold storage areas. Contact Polygon today to learn how its climate control solutions can increase productivity and minimize losses in your facility.
[Photo from U.S. Department of Agriculture via CC License 2.0]