111How Plastic Packaging Keeps Your Food Fresh & Safe
Plastic packaging has proven to be an invaluable resource in many of today’s fast moving industries. It doesn’t require a lot of energy as well as fast and easy to produce. It is also a lot safer than it used to be. Many scientists, experts and professionals have put a lot of time and effort to make plastic production as safe and environmentally friendly as possible.
Plastic packaging serves a lot of various purposes. It is used to store many of our most important items safely and efficiently. Most noticeably, it is used very often in the food industry. This is not only because of its minimal impact on the environment, but also its ability to keep the food safe and preserved for extended periods of time. It allows processed food to stay the way it was made even after its processing and shipping. It retains the flavours and freshness of the food products until it’s opened and cooked. This won’t be very possible if it wasn’t for plastic packaging.
However, plastic in itself has always been the subject of much heated debates. For instance, in Australia there are people who think plastic has a negative impact on the environment. Most of those people fail to consider the alternatives and how the two rate when compared to one another.
A life cycle study was performed to gauge the viability and safety of plastic in today’s market compared to other manufacturing materials. The study was not done only with plastic packaging, but also with plastic caps, plastic containers and flexible plastics as well as the shrink wrap. It then concluded that alternative materials took up about 4.4 times as much weight after manufacturing had completed. The process of manufacturing the material itself took energy twice as much. Altogether, it was said to increase the potential for global warming by more than twice.
Plastic has come a long way over the years. Its production and life cycle is now safer than many other possible alternatives.
The Role of Plastic Packaging in the Food Industry
Chances are that you’ve bought some kind of food in plastic packaging for so many times. It’s also likely that you’ve stored your own food in some form of plastic container at one point or the other. Also, plastic plays a big role in our meals packaging. But, why exactly is it there?
Safety is one of the primary reasons. Keeping food safe for longer periods of time has always been one of mankind’s biggest struggles. Over the centuries, people have increasingly developed more efficient methods for storing foods. There was a time before when ice was used to store food regularly. But with the advancement of technology, nowadays, plastic packaging is used to keep food preserved.
Plastic is ideal for protecting the foods against any element that can spoil or contaminate the m. It also helps protect the food’s appearance from damage during shipment. Plastic packaging ultimately ensures the integrity of the food until a consumer makes the purchase and removes it from the package.
Biological, Physical and Chemical Protection
Plastic packaging helps protect food from natural deterioration over time. It does this via chemical, physical and biological protection. Plastic is the most efficient material when it comes to protecting against these sources of harm.
Oxygen and other gases are particularly harmful to most foods. These gases help accelerate the deterioration process, which is why plastic is used as a protective barrier. Plastic has chemical protection against the various chemicals in the surrounding environment.
It also prevents damage from certain lights, whether invisible or infrared. The only other materials that offer such an effective barrier against external gases and internal moisture loss are metal and glass. However, it’s never easy or affordable to find a fully glass packaging. Plastic, on the other hand, is slightly more permeable and it offers such a wide range of flexibility that’s worth it.
Physical protection refers to the prevention of food from physical damage like sudden force during handling. It also protects from mechanical damage that might occur during the shipping process. The plastic actually helps absorb much of the shock that occurs from vibration. Vibration is common throughout shipping and distribution. But, it’s not only the plastic packing that is providing physical protection. Most food products like meats are usually packed with paperboard materials beneath them. This material also helps absorb physical shock.
Another form of protection offered by plastic packaging is biological protection. Plastic forms a thin, yet very strong barrier against the billions of microorganisms found everywhere in the world. This includes many pathogens that would cause the food to spoil quickly.
The biological barrier also prevents infection from harmful diseases. Without plastic packaging, all of the food we eat would be at a constant threat by various environmental elements. In time, packaging will be safer for the consumers and the environment as well.