Hormel’s Party Tray has pre-cut meats and cheeses, which rapidly lose color or fade in the presence of oxygen. They’re kept fresh in pouches incorporating Cryovac’s Freshness Plus oxygen scavenging film.
The trends toward natural and organic foods and products featuring heart-healthy but oxygen-sensitive unsaturated fats have combined to fuel development of active packaging solutions in flexible and rigid formats.
Active packaging interacts chemically with the food inside the package to safeguard against product degradation from exposure to oxygen and/or moisture. By using active packaging, processors can increase shelf life, protect flavor profiles and maintain the food’s appearance and texture — all without adding preservatives to the product formulation.
“We’re trying to offer the processors another option for protecting their products by putting more of the burden on the package,” says Scott Beckwith, manager of new business development with Sealed Air’s Cryovac Food Packaging (www.sealedair.com), Duncan, S.C. The goal is packaging that provides protection throughout the life of the product.
A family of active packaging materials called Cryovac Freshness Plus, which were designed to maximize freshness, flavor and product appearance, act to prevent mold growth and preserve food color.
This family of flexible packaging materials includes an oxygen scavenging film, an active barrier film that binds oxygen inside the packaging material and an odor scavenging film. The materials can be used for pouches and lidding.
Product applications for the oxygen scavenging film include products packed using modified atmosphere packaging. Applications include fresh pasta and processed meats. Cryovac currently is testing this film on bakery products.
Hormel Foods Corp. (www.hormel.com), Austin, Minn., uses Freshness Plus Oxygen Scavenging film to package pepperoni and hard salami in pouches that are packed with other products into a rigid plastic package and merchandised as the Hormel Party Tray. Both types of meat rapidly lose color or fade in the presence of oxygen, and the active packaging protects against this undesirable effect.
The oxygen scavenging film can be used to extend shelf life, as well — sometimes significantly. Shelf life for Nestlé’s Buitoni fresh pasta was extended by almost 50 percent using Freshness Plus oxygen scavenging film lidding on the pasta trays.
For its active barrier films, which have not yet been commercialized, Cryovac uses the same polymeric oxygen scavenging technology but incorporates it into the barrier portion of a multilayer film. The films are compatible with vacuum packaging and suitable for products with little head space.
With many standard passive-barrier films, “Oxygen can migrate through them over time. By incorporating the oxygen scavenging capability, our active barrier films provide an improvement over the passive barrier,” Beckwith explains.