Food packaging refers to enclosing any food item to protect it from contamination from physical and chemical sources. Good packaging makes sure that the food product does not lose its quality throughout its shelf life. Food packaging is an important part of the food industry. It ensures that food and beverages are stored properly in a hygienic manner. Food packaging also includes using various dyes to make the packaging look attractive. Glues and other adhesives are used to keep the packaging properly closed.
When the packaging, which is done by food packaging machines, is in contact with the food item, this is known as the primary packaging, which is the first level of food packaging. Some examples of primary packaging include the wrapping of chocolates, a bag of peanuts, bottle packing around cold drinks, etc. In addition to being a protective layer around the food item, food packaging also serves the purpose of giving important information to the consumer. This information includes the ingredients used while making the product, the maximum retail price, the manufacturing date, expiry date and much more.
Materials used for Food Packaging:
- Metals are used for food packaging mainly for food items which are liquid or semi-solid. There are many forms of metal packaging such as cans, tubes, etc. Aluminum and steel are generally used and these materials are highly recyclable too.
- Paper is another material used in food packaging. It is, usually, used for temporary food protection because of its high permeability. It is used in milk cartons, paper plates, and cups, etc.
- Many industries, today, use sustainable packaging materials like bioplastics and bio-based materials.
- Another material used for food packaging is glass. It is mainly used to pack drinks, in the form of jars or pots.
Materials like plastic and polythene must not be used for the packaging because these materials release toxins when heated. Hence, these materials can prove to be harmful to consumers. The appropriate selection of the packaging material is a very important factor because it ensures the quality and safety of the product.
The process is carried out with the help of multiple food packaging machines. These machines include labeling machines, tape machines, conveyors, filling machines, sealers, bundling machines and many more. Labeling machines are used to apply branded labels or bar codes on the food items. Tape machines are used for retail or industrial bulk packaging. The role of conveyors is to transfer the food items from one location to another. Filling machines are used to fill food into the containers. Heat sealers are used to melt plastic to seal off the package.