Packaging for products comes in all shapes and sizes, using various materials befitting to the product it is encasing and protecting. In the food industry, one of the most common and versatile packaging methods is vacuum packaging.
1. What is the vacuum packaging of food products?
Vacuum packaging is another way to increase the shelf life of food products. Here the product is placed in an air-tight pack, the air sucked out and the package sealed. By removing air from around the product, the levels of oxygen in the packaging are reduced, impeding the ability of oxygen-breathing microorganisms to grow and spoil the product. The lack of oxygen also reduces the amount of spoilage due to oxidation – the process that causes apples and bananas to turn brown, for example.
Vacuum packing can be achieved with the use of a commercially available vacuum sealer.
Vacuum-packed foods may last longer than foods packed through other methods but you must remember that vacuum packing will only really control the amount of oxygen around foods and other environmental factors will continue to affect foods such as temperature, pH, moisture content, time, and the amount of oxygen removed by vacuum packing. Therefore, other methods of food preservation should be used alongside vacuum packing such as refrigeration or freezing if you are keeping the meat for a longer time – and you should also follow food-specific guidelines regarding storage times.
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2. Advantages of Vacuum Packaging
There are many advantages to utilizing vacuum packaging for your products, some include:
✓ Extended shelf-life of the product
By removing the air from the packaging. This prevents any opportunity for bacteria or mold to develop, as this cannot exist when there is limited/no oxygen.
✓ Protection from environmental elements onto the product
Environmental factors directly affect the taste and look of the product. By completely encasing the product, you are forming a barrier to protect any foreign materials or external environmental factors affecting the product like freezer burn or dehydration.
✓ Retention of product taste
By holding in product moisture, flavors, spices, and juices, there will be a noticeable difference in the overall taste of the product in comparison to the product, not vacuum packaging.
✓ Perfectly suited to the product with marinades
Customers are looking for efficient weeknight dinners and roasts on the weekend packed, full of flavor. By vacuum packaging your product, you hold in the marinade and allow the product to slowly absorb the marinade to produce a greater product flavor.
✓ High barrier shrink vacuum bags
The amount of shelf life enhanced by a vacuum bag is dependent on the structure of the material. A standard vacuum bag is composed of a PA/PE structure where PA is for puncture resistance and PE is for sealing. The high barrier category includes the usage of more layers focused on the prevention of oxygen permeability, and therefore shelf life protection.
✓ Preventing freezer burn
When foods are frozen without preparation, freezer burn can occur. It happens when the surface of the food is dehydrated, and this leads to a dried and leathery appearance. Freezer burn also changes the flavor and texture of foods. Vacuum packing reduces freezer burn by preventing the food from exposure to the cold, dry air.
3. What Dangers are there in Vacuum Sealing?
- As in all preserving methods, and because all food-borne pathogens grow with or without oxygen no preserving method is entirely safe.
- Organisms grow at high temperatures but research has shown they also grow at low temperatures in refrigerated conditions and can gradually reach quite high numbers along with the length of time the food is stored.
- Low pH is also a contributing factor for vacuum processed foods.
- Spore formers survive cooking even though most other vegetative cells are destroyed with both cooking and fermentation.
4. Preventative Steps
- Always prepare food in scrupulously clean conditions – this includes personal hygiene, as well as benchtops tools utensils, and so on, are all clean. Always wash your hands before starting
- Avoid contact with your hands and food – use utensils or wear sterile rubber gloves
- Don’t cross-contaminate by using chopping boards, knives, or any other utensils used in the process for more than one product. Never use the same utensils on raw and then cooked foods or visa-versa. Wash and scrub your tools, benches, and boards (also in between processing as needed)
- Only ever vacuum pack the freshest foods.
- Store vacuum-packed food in the fridge or freezer
- All low acid food that has been vacuum-sealed should be frozen
- Consume foods straight after cooking
- Check the color of the meat it should be a deep purplish color not black, grey, or brown which can indicate that it is contaminated.
- Sealed meat will often have a strong smell upon opening – this should dissipate within 20 minutes or so – if not then you should not eat it.
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Union Packaging is a reputable and experienced supplier of OPP, CPP, MCPP, PET, MPET, PE laminated film…. in the industry. We always try to research, develop and improve product quality, improve customer care ability to meet the increasing demands of the domestic and foreign packaging market. Please contact us now: 0987 437 469 – 0903 750 384 for specific advice and quotation.
UNION PACKAGING SOLUTION JOINT STOCK COMPANY
Address: No. 5, 3643A Street, Pham The Hien, Ward 7, District 8, HCMC
Tel: 0987 437 469 – 0903 750 384