Many industries use plastic in their production and/or packaging systems and the bakery and confectionery make no exception.
Campden BRI explains that the food sector is looking at alternative materials and systems to reduce the use of plastic packaging. Some companies have already pledged to reduce or eliminate plastic packaging or to ensure it is recyclable. Packaging carries out three main functions: protection, preservation, and promotion of the product. The challenge is to find a replacement that does all three and is also cost-effective, safe and looks good.
There are many plastic packaging alternatives available, from paper and plant-based materials to those that look and feel like plastic, the company explains. “There are lots of things to consider when making a change to packaging, whether you’re substituting plastic with non-plastics, exploring lightweight materials, introducing recycled materials, changing the design or trying to reduce costs. Choosing the correct packaging is key to ensuring safe delivery of product through the supply chain. Rigorously testing the performance of your packaging materials means you can be assured that your product will remain in top condition throughout its journey from the production line through to consumers’ homes,” Campden BRI says.
There are a number of tests available that can be used during the design and manufacture of packaging to test its “fitness for purpose”.
Compression testing determines the vertical load that can be applied, the company says. This test is used for distribution packaging to assess its ability to protect its contents and it can also be used to measure stacking height. This ensures the packs can withstand the compressive force exerted upon them when stacked, according to the company.
“Peel testing measures the strength of a package seal. It can be used to assess the force required to peel a lid from a container, and the ease with which the lid can be peeled by the consumer. This is particularly important for the aging consumer and those with dexterity issues. Similarly, tensile testing can measure the strength of a flexible seal to ensure strength and integrity,” Campden BRI says.
The coefficient of friction, or slip resistance, is important for packaging and is a fundamental property of all materials that run on high-speed printing and packaging lines. The slip resistance can be tested to ensure your film doesn’t scuff or jam on the line.
The temperature to the product will be exposed to during processing and throughout its shelf life has to be considered.
“Is it being reheated? If so, you will need to carry out cooking validation as the thermal properties of different materials vary and may affect the cooking instructions, for example, board cannot be heated to as high temperatures as plastic. Alternatively, maybe you are exporting the product to countries that have different climates from where your packaging testing was carried out so you will need to test that the packaging can withstand the temperature and humidity without changing its barrier properties. The permeability of films and containers can be measured at a range of different temperatures and humilities to determine their oxygen and water vapor transmission rates,” Campden BRI ads.
British company Campden BRI provides the food and drink industry with the practical scientific, technical and advisory services needed to ensure product safety and quality, process efficiency and product and process innovation.