Thursday, July 18, 2024
General Agriculture

5 Types of Produce Packages and Packing Techniques

In this article, we will be looking at the different types of produce packages and packing techniques available. The following are the different types of produce packages and packing techniques available, they include;

1. Controlled and Modified Atmospheric Packaging (CAP and MAP)

5 Types of Produce Packages and Packing Techniques

The normal composition of air is 78% Nitrogen (N), 21% Oxygen (O2), 0.03% Carbon dioxide (CO2) and traces of other noble gases.

Modified atmosphere packaging is the method for extending the shelf-life of perishable and semi-perishable food products by altering the relative proportions of atmospheric gases that surround the produce.

Although the terms Controlled Atmosphere (CA) and Modified Atmosphere (MA) are often used interchangeably a precise difference exists between these two terms.

2. Controlled Atmosphere (CA)

This refers to a storage atmosphere that is different from the normal atmosphere in its composition, wherein the component gases are precisely adjusted to specific concentrations and maintained throughout the storage and distribution of the perishable foods.

Controlled atmosphere relies on the continuous measurement of the composition of the storage atmosphere and injection of the appropriate gases or gas mixtures into it, if and when needed.

Hence, the system requires sophisticated instruments to monitor the gas levels and is therefore practical only for refrigerated bulk storage or shipment of commodities in large containers.

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If the composition of atmosphere in CA system is not closely controlled or if the storage atmosphere is accidentally modified, potential benefit can turn into actual disaster.

The degree of susceptibility to injury and the specific symptoms vary, not only between cultivars, but even between growing areas for the same cultivars and between years for a given location.

With tomatoes, excessively low O2 or high CO2 prevents proper ripening even after removal of the fruit to air, and CA enhances the danger of chilling injury.

The differences between beneficial and harmful concentrations of oxygen and carbon dioxide for each kind of produce are relatively small, so great care must be taken when using these technologies.

3. Modified Atmospheric Packaging (MAP)

5 Types of Produce Packages and Packing Techniques

Unlike CAPs, there is no means to control precisely the atmospheric components at a specific concentration in MAP once a package has been hermetically sealed.

Modified atmosphere conditions are created inside the packages by the commodity itself and / or by active modification.

Commodity generated or passive MA (Modified Atmosphere) is evolved as a consequence of the commodity‘s respiration.

Active modification involves creating a slight vacuum inside the package and replacing it with a desired mixture of gases, so as to establish desired EMA (Equilibrated Modified Atmosphere) quickly composed to a passively generated EMA.

Another active modification technique is the use of carbon dioxide or ethyl absorbers (scavengers) within the package to prevent the build-up of the particular gas within the package. This method is called active packaging.

Compounds like hydrated lime, activated charcoal, magnesium oxide are known to absorb carbon dioxide while iron powder is known as a scavenger to carbon dioxide. Potassium permanganate and phenyl methyl silicone can be used to absorb ethylene within the packages.

These scavengers can be held in small sachets within the packages or impregnated in the wrappers or into porous materials like vermiculite.

For the actively respiring commodities like fruits and vegetables, the package atmosphere should contain oxygen and carbon dioxide at levels optimum to the particular commodity.

In general, MA containing between 2-5% oxygen and 3.8 % CO2 have shown to extend the shelf life of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

If the shelf life of a commodity at 20-25C is one day, then by employing MAP, it will get doubled, whereas refrigeration can extend the shelf life to 3, and refrigeration combined with MAP can increase it to four days.

Few types of films are routinely used for MAP. The important ones are polyvinyl chloride, (PVC), polystyrene, (PS), polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

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The recent developments in co-extrusion technology have made it possible to manufacture films with designed transmission rates of oxygen.

4. Vacuum Packaging

5 Types of Produce Packages and Packing Techniques

Vacuum packaging offers an extensive barrier against corrosion, oxidation, moisture, drying out, dirt, attraction of dust by electric charge, ultra violet rays and mechanical damages, fungus growth or perishability etc. This technology has commendable relevance for tropical countries with high atmospheric humidity.

In vacuum packaging, the product to be packed is put in a vacuum bag (made of special, hermetic fills) that is then evacuated in a vacuum chamber and then sealed hermetically in order to provide a total barrier against air and moisture.

If some of the product cannot bear the atmospheric pressure due to vacuum inside the package then the packages are flushed with inert gases like Nitrogen and CO2 after evacuation.

5. Edible Packaging

5 Types of Produce Packages and Packing Techniques

An edible film or coating is simply defined as a thin continuous layer of edible material formed on, placed on, or between the foods or food components. The package is an integral part of the food, which can be eaten as a part of the whole food product.

Selection of material for use in edible packaging is based on its properties to act as barrier to moisture and gases, mechanical strength, physical properties, and resistance to microbial growth.

The types of materials used for edible packaging include lipids, proteins and polysaccharides or a combination of any two or all of these.

Many lipid compounds, such as animal and vegetable fats, acetoglycerides have been used in the formulation of edible packaging for fresh produces because of their excellent moisture barrier properties.

Lipid coatings on fresh fruits and vegetables reduce weight losses due to dehydration during storage by 40-70 per cent. Research and development effort is required to develop edible films and coatings that have good packaging performance besides being economical.

The Different Packing Techniques

Packing techniques must ensure that:

Produce is correctly arranged within the packaging material to reduce the risk of damage;

Produce is not damaged by wounding during the packing process – for example, by micro- wounding because of nails sticking into the produce, thereby creating an ecological niche for microbial infection; and

Hygienic conditions are maintained – contaminated hands or contaminated containers may transfer food-borne pathogens to the produce.

Fresh produce packers must observe high levels of personal hygiene: gloves can be worn during packing, but should be washed at regular intervals to prevent them from becoming a trap for food-borne pathogens.

Packing must also be done against a tight time schedule to ensure that produce can be moved efficiently through the supply chain.

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Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with several years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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