Functions Of A Food Packaging System

A major goal of food packaging is in the efficient delivery of products to the consumer. To accomplish this goal, the package must serve the important functions of containing the food, protecting the food, providing convenience, and conveying product information. The package protects the food against physical, chemical, and biological damages. It also acts as a physical barrier to oxygen, moisture, volatile chemical compounds, and microorganisms, which are detrimental to the food. The package provides the consumer with convenient features such as microwavability, reseal-ability, and ease of use. The package conveys useful information such as product contents, nutritional values, and preparation instructions. These functions make food packaging an essential technology for maintaining the original food quality, with fewer chemical additives and less food waste.

The food package can function best when integrated into a food packaging system, which involves certain physical components and operations. The major physical components are the food, the package, and the environment (Fig. 1). It is useful to divide the environment into internal and external—the internal environment (referred to hereafter as the headspace) is inside the package and is in direct contact with the food, and the external environment is outside the package and depends on the storage and distribution conditions. The operations are the manufacturing, distribution, and disposal of the food package. In designing the food packaging system, these physical components and operations must be considered to prevent overpackaging and underpackaging, which result in higher costs, lower quality, and, in some cases, health risks.

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