Converting Case Study

Testing time for the packaging of fresh, frozen and processed meat

By Tom Kerchiss, RK Print Coat Instruments


eat products may be sold fresh from the butchery counter, sold from the freezer in the supermarket

for ready transfer to the freezer at home, sold from chiller cabinets even purchased non-refrigerated in retort pouches, and in various other forms of packaging configurations. Produce may be packed with an inner pack, which is in direct contact with the product, such as a foil container or laminate, and then enclosed with a decorative outer pack or sleeve often of paper or paperboard to provide for marketing and information. Semi-rigid, rigid and flexible plastic

materials are available. With regard to flexible filmic structures they are generally engineered to provide good mechanical strength yet they are light in weight, offer good sealing capabilities and barrier resistance.

28 December/ January 2020

BARRIER RESISTANCE For both practical and aesthetic reasons good barrier resistance against oxygen and evaporation is high on the packaging technologist agenda. Air needs to be excluded from meat packs because oxygen affects meat that is not effectively sealed, turning the colour of meat from an acceptable colour to an unpalatable grey, brown or green.

Not only is this unattractive it also means

that oxidation and rancidity of fats has taken place. This gives an off taste when consumed. This problem is particularly noticeable when meat is sold as deli items which are prominently displayed for the consumer to view and select. In an attempt to counter the effect of oxygen as a spoiler meat and meat products such as pate and spreads are often packed using oxygen resistant films. These filmic materials may be

used in vacuum packaging, ensuring that virtually no oxygen remains in the pack or can penetrate into the pack.

LIGHT ISSUES It’s not just oxygen that can cause colour changes in meat along with rancidity, etc, light can be equally problematic. For really light sensitive products, meat can be packed in either coloured or opaque substrates. A decorative printed PS overlay or a printed card when the meat is packed in a thermoformed tray and covered with plastic film can minimise exposure to light, at the same time enhancing the perception of the brand with the inclusion of logo, bright colours and cooking instructions, etc. Transparent packaging film is favoured

where the potential for high product turnaround is required or at least envisaged. Marketers, brand owners and retailers are

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