Active Packaging Enhances Safety And Quality Of Perishable Foods

May 07, 1998

CHICAGO--Stealth scavengers sound like characters out of a science fiction film. In reality, they are substances used in one of several new packaging technologies that extend the freshness of foods and provide added consumer convenience. These technologies will be presented at the Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT's) 1998 Annual Meeting & FOOD EXPO in Atlanta in June.

The symposium "Active Packaging" (Session 64, June 23, 1:30 PM) will describe new packaging systems that interact with package contents or the package's internal atmosphere. These "active" systems can be part of the package material or a separate component placed inside the package. The internal atmosphere may be controlled by substances that either absorb (scavenge) or release (emit) a specific gas. Commercial examples are oxygen, ethylene, and carbon dioxide (CO2) scavengers, used to create a low-oxygen environment, delay the spoilage of produce, and maintain the freshness of coffee, respectively. CO2 emitters are used to retard microbial growth. Other packaging systems slowly release active substances onto the surface of food contents, such as antimicrobial agents, antioxidants, color transfer films, flavor and odor absorbers or releasers, enzyme inhibitors, and moisture scavengers. Components added to food packages for consumer convenience include microwave susceptors/reflectors to create high surface temperatures for crisp products and time-temperature indicators to reveal product abuse or freshness. Active packaging may incorporate one or more of the above technologies, all of which will be described in the symposium.

IFT's Annual Meeting will be at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

Institute of Food Technologists

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