Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Food Packaging Materials

Bafagih Alia Mohamed 1000924495
Joanna Yam 1001025985
Tan Bing See 1001024835

Packaging material is any material that is used to cover the product and protect it from getting dust, dirt or any other unwanted foreign materials into the product, and some in addition provides information about the product. The researchers aimed at a better method of better quality packaging materials to protect our food and other goods.

In the early ages, people used to obtain and collect their food during hunting and fishing. For the food storage they use leaves from tress, animal skin and also woven baskets. The foods were not fully protected from contaminants and so it was not hygienic.
Some 5,000 years before Christ, man use glass to make jewelries. Later 1,000 the Egyptians used glass to make different kinds of jars for storing goods. In the middle ages the most material used for the food packaging was the wooden barrels. They were used store foods and liquids and also to protect them from the direct light. This brought change in lifestyle and so the need of the packaging materials grew.
In 1810, the French man Nicolas Appert invented a can made from glass than metal. It is said that glass can preserve food for a longer period than the metal can, so this was used during the American Civil War before it became available to the consumers. In the 19th century, the box cardboard was introduced, which made it easier to transport goods and it became most widely used until today.
The invention of the transparent cellophane was in 1920, and polyethylene in 1933. Aluminum foil which later came and made it possible to seal medications. From then on a large number of the packaging materials is produced and is improved every day.

Plastics are group of synthetic and modified natural polymers that can be formed into a wide variety of shapes using heat.
Plastics are made from polymers, composed of monomers. There are different types of plastics because of the different kinds of monomers produced. Some of the plastics are "functionalized" with other kinds of atoms either present in the original monomer, or added later after polymerization.

A layer of oil is added over the tin to add additional protection against corrosion and to protect the tin during formation and handling. Metal is commonly used in packing of food products. Common types of metal packages used for food include three-piece cans, two-piece cans and foil pouches. Metalized films are also used in many flexible laminated packages.

Most of the cans are made by aluminum material because they are light, strong and recyclable. The four metals that are commonly used in food packaging are steel, aluminum, tin and chromium.

Cardboard are made up of boxes in which they are easily recycled. It is commonly used in packing materials such as eggs, to protect them from breaking. Cardboard or paperboard is normally thicker because they are formed by mashed pulp. In order to make the paperboard, the pulp may be bleached and additives added to control the required functional and visible properties. Cartons on the other hand, are mainly used to store milk, juice and etc. They are less environmental friendly compare to paperboard as they are difficult to be recycled due to its complex composition, which is made up of plastics and aluminum paper. In general cartons are made from paperboard that has been printed, creased, scored, cut and glued. 

Glass in the form of jars is commonly used in food storing, especially when the food is in liquid or semisolid form. Glass is formed into food packages either by the blow-and-blow process (used to form narrow-neck bottle) or by the press-and-blow process (used to form wide-mouth jar). Air is blown through the finish to expand the glass into the mold and it later colds down to become the final product.

Polystyrene is a type of plastic that is formed by the styrene. It is made from a long hydrocarbon chain, with a phenyl group attached to every other carbon atom. Polystyrene is a vinyl polymer, and it is produced by the free radical vinyl polymerization. 
Polystyrene is commonly used in food packaging because it weight is light and it is resistant to moisture when then the food is hot.

Packaging involves three main stages, primary package, secondary package and distribution/ tertiary package (Figure 1).
Primary package is in direct contact with the food product. Secondary package contains the primary package and provides physical protection for the food product in the primary package. Tertiary package contains secondary packages and functions to protect their contents and end enabling handling.
Figure. 1

Case Study of Packaging Material:
Example : The Packaging of Breakfast cereals

The plastic bag (primary package) contains the cereals that extend its shelf life by protecting it from unwanted moisture. Then, the paper box (secondary package) that protects the primary package and food, facilitates handling, and carries branding and labeling information to communicate with the consumers. Finally, in a bigger carton box, dozens these secondary packages are loaded into it, which later will be transported to its destination.

Food packaging is defined as a coordinated industrial and marketing system for enclosing products in a container to meet the following needs: containment, protection, preservation, distribution, identification, communication, and convenience (Smith, J.S. et al 2004). An ideal package will enable a safe, quality food product to reach the consumer at minimum cost. It is important to note that if a package fails to function properly, much of the expense and energy put into the production and processing of the food will be wasted (Smith, J.S. et al 2004).

- This basic function of packaging is a key factor for all other packaging functions. A food product must be contained before a package can protect and preserve.

- Packaging helps to protect the food from water vapor, oxygen, light, microorganism, other contaminants, and etc.

- Packaging can function to preserve or to extend the shelf life of food products. It acts as a barrier to environment contaminants. Like a protection shell of the food products. In another way that packaging can preserve food when it interacts with the product to extend shelf life, known as active packaging. Active packaging, employs a packaging material that interacts with the internal gas environment to extend the shelf-life of a food. Such new technologies continuously modify the gas environment (and may interact with the surface of the food) by removing gases from or adding gases to the headspace inside a package (CSIRO Food and Nutritional Services 1994).

- The ability to efficiently unitize individual packages into larger containers is desirable for shipping and handling. Packaging is designed to protect food products from stresses encountered during transportation, eg. compression forces.

5. Identification and communication/ commercials
- Every food product has different specially designed packaging to advertise their products. Consumers recognize the desired products from the appearance of the packages, or it may even affect the decision of the consumers whether to buy it or not.

-  Food products may come in liquid, solid or maybe semisolid form. Packaging must be designed to be convenient and user friendly. Convenient design features include capacities to be reused, resealed, or easily opened.


Eco Friendly pack simply means containers or packaging made from components that are not harmful to the environment, in short, its biodegradable in a short amount of time. It is made from natural oil palm fibres with no additives of chemicals that are potentially harmful to our environment and us with the latest technology, machines and human geniuses!
Quick Facts: Ecofriendly- harmless to our environment; Non-toxic- no chemicals are leached out from pack to food; Microwaveable- heat tolerance without releasing poisonous chemicals when heated in microwave; Healthy for you!

Food packaging materials made of plastic, metals whilst providing convenience to us, the ugly side is this, it can be environmental damaging. Emissions of gas and pollutant from chemical materials can cause thinning of ozone layer which inevitable hurts our body system.

Mass production is the second disadvantage.It causes wastage of money and resources, evidently seen by the overcrowded landfills  with all the unuse / irreusable packaging materials.Thirdly,microwable containers MAY emit chemicals to food when micro-waving!Realise it was never claimed to be 100% safe? Packaging materials  proposes health threat especially  with BPA containers / Cans.
- Bisphenol A (BPA) are Organic chemical compounds used to make polycarbonate plastic.
  Possess Estrogenic concerns! Ability to cause CANCER.

Plastic (Not) Fantastic.
When you turn a plastic container around, you generally will find a code number surrounded with arrows.Did you guess it was just recycling?? The code number represents the type of CHEMICAL make up of the plastic!
Code Number
Types  of Chemicals
Polyethylene terephalate (PET)
Clear soft drink and beverage bottles, food packaging
High density polyethylene (HDPE)
Bottles, industrial wropping and film, sheets, plastic bags
Unplasticised polyvinyl chloride (UPVC) or Plasticised polyvinyl chloride (PPVC)
Bottles, packaging film, creditcards, water containers, water pipes
Low density polyethylene LDPE
Cling film, plastic bags, flexible containers and food wrap
Polypropylene (PP)
Packaging such as yoghurt and margarine pots, sweet and snack wrappers, medical packaging, milk and beer crates
Polystyrene (PS) or Expandable polystyrene (EPS)
Disposable hot or cold drink cups and plates, fast food clamshells, dairy product containers
All other resins and multi-materials not otherwise defined
Other  resins, complex composites and laminates, plastic reusable water bottles, tupperware.

1. Plastics With number 1,2,4 & 5  does not contain BPA!
2. Reduce recyling group 3 and 6, it may leach BPA
3. AVOID polycarbonate food containers marked with letters PC or 7. WHY 7?  Aside from   
    the potential health risk, it is a agent of pollution!
4. Choose fresh fruits or vegetables and glass jars ( e.g tomato sauce) instead of canned
5. Never expose these plastics to Hot liquids as BPA leaches Out faster than normal      
6. Choose bio-base plastics
7. Avoid using plastic containers in the microwave

We use plastic bottles to store our liquid almost everyday of our lives and sadly most of it is made from # 7 code number.  Question, is it safe/ the right way to store any liquid?
In our opinion, it is better to avoid them. Nowadays thanks to technology, companies are aware of this issue and has successfully produced  bottles which are BPA-Free, Reusable and even Recyclable!
Though it it might cost you more than the ever convienient plastic bottles , it’s an investment to you and your family’s health in a long run!


-Bucher.J., Shelby.M., n.d. Questions and Answers about Bisphenol A (BPA) [Online].Available at: < http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/media/questions/sya-bpa.cfm>[ Accessed on 17 July 2010]
-Trish, 2008.How We’re Poisoning Our Children With BPA [Online].Available at: < http://musegreen.com/2008/09/how-were-poisoning-our-children-with-bpa/>[ Accessed on 17 July 2010]
-Ecological Packaging Sdn Bhd, n.d. Fast Facts [Online].Available at: <http://eco-friendlypackaging.supplier-manufacturer.com/>[ Accessed on 17 July 2010]
-Anon.,1998. Does Plastic in Microwave Pose Health Problems?[Online] Available from :< http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Microwave-Health-Problems.htm> [Accessed on 24 July 2010]

-Parikh Packaging, 2000. The complete Packaging Solutions, Adapted from <:http://www.packaging-material-exporters.com/beverage-food-packaging.html:> Accessed on 24/7/2010.
-Joe E. Heimlich, Ohio State University Fact Sheet. Adapted from <:http://ohioline.osu.edu/cd-fact/0133.html:>, Accessed on 24/7/2010.
-Decision newsmedia, 2004. Importance of packaging, Adapted from <:http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Supply-Chain/Importance-of-packaging:> Accessed on 24/7/2010.

Picture Sources



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