The future of Food Preservation: Exploring the boons of Active Packaging
Active food packaging is aimed to increase beneficial interactions with the package and food by integrating active compounds intended to be released into the food or absorbed into or from the packed food or the environment surrounding the food. Active packaging works by Placing the active component within the package as a small packet, envelope, or label, on its surface, in multilayer structures, in specific packaging components like sachets and self-adhesive in the packaging with the product. This might release an anti-microbial agent to halt the deterioration process or absorb oxygen to prevent food spoilage.
Why active packaging?
The term “active packaging” signifies a system of packaging developed to maintain and enhance the nutritional value, organoleptic characteristics, and quality of the packed food product while simultaneously extending its shelf life.
- The use of active food packaging extends the product shelf life of perishables and significantly reduces food waste.
- As a result of research into effective active packaging, biodegradable, compostable, and even edible packaging alternatives are being developed, which will decrease the need for earth-polluting plastics and increase sustainability.
- Active packaging materials ensure that a food product is nutritious, safe for consumption, and enhanced product quality.
The packaging material absorbs undesirable components including O2, CO2, ethylene, odour, germs, and moisture with absorbers or scavengers.
By eliminating or reducing the amount of oxygen inside a package, oxygen scavengers, also known as oxygen absorbers, increase shelf life and ensure the safety of the product. The packaging of food and beverages, such as ready-meal packets, beer caps, and sauce sachets, where oxygen scavengers are most frequently used.
Oxygen absorbers prevent oxidation and prevent the growth of microorganisms. In oxygen scavengers, iron is the most predominant substrate, followed by ascorbic acid and other substrates. These materials are used as light-sensitive dyes or sacrificial unsaturated dienes in polymer designs. An upcoming advancement in this field is the capability for consumers to activate oxygen scavengers inside an opened resealable container.
Food’s shelf life is increased by ethylene scavengers which inhibit ripening and senescence. They can be integrated into the package structure and are frequently sold in sachet form made of zeolite or potassium permanganate, ethylene-absorbing sachets absorb ethylene and moisture to delay senescence and emit sulphur dioxide when water comes into touch with the sodium metabisulfite salt-containing sachet pads. Additionally, 1-methylcyclopropene
(1-MCP) is frequently used to block ethylene receptors, reduce senescence, and wash and treat fresh vegetables. Additionally, the addition of 1-MCP to a corrugated liner board makes it optional to use sachets and enables a more seamless and reliable distribution of fruit.
By employing sachets, moisture scavengers regulate moisture in a package’s headspace and absorb liquid escaping from food, increasing the shelf life of the product. Moisture is absorbed by clays, zeolite, and humectants in addition to high-capacity hydrogels to packaging structures will provide an effective moisture control system. Relative humidity regulators or desiccants absorb water vapour to regulate moisture and relative humidity by means of deliquescent salts, such as calcium chloride and magnesium chloride.
While taste and smell are intricately linked, packaging materials must mask unwanted odour. Odour scavengers are a type of active packaging material that includes activated carbon or charcoal, that can adsorb and remove odours due to its large surface area and high porosity.
By their interaction directly with food and diffusion from the packaging, active food packaging emitters reduce the impacts of deteriorative reactions from microbial growth, oxidation, or uncontrolled ripening. While an antioxidant is released into a package’s headspace, the necessary oxygen barrier or the extent of headspace modification may decrease (through vacuum or gas flushing) which prolongs food shelf life.
Antimicrobial carbon dioxide emitter:
As an emitter-based active packaging, hydrogels and other containment mechanisms have become accessible for the release of antimicrobial carbon dioxide via sodium bicarbonate and citric acid from packaging materials. Carbon dioxide emitters are most frequently employed in conjunction with packaging gases such as nitrogen. In addition to this, the gas slows the fruit softening with improved pigment retention and extended shelf life.
In comparison to conventional packaging, active packaging is promising and provides a number of benefits. Additionally, it has the potential to decrease food loss and waste and improve the sustainability of agriculture. Active Packaging doesn’t provide a detrimental effect on food quality and poses any potential risks for consumers.