PACKAGING OF MEAT AND MEAT PRODUCTS

PACKAGING OF MEAT AND MEAT PRODUCTS

Packaging is the technique of using the most appropriate containers and components to contain, protect, carry, identify and merchandise any product. It constitutes a vital link between the processor and consumer for the safe delivery of the product through the various stages of processing, storage, transport, distribution and marketing. The most important function of a meat package in addition to contain it is to present the product to the consumer in the most attractive manner possible and at the same time protect the product from physical damage, microbial deterioration and chemical changes.

Functions of package

  • To contain the product for convenient handling.
  • To safeguard the meat against spoilage by any physical, chemical or microbial agents.
  • To facilitate marketing of meat and meat products.
  • To satisfy the requirements of consumers in best possible manner.
  • To ensure supply of meat and meat products in lean periods.

Important characteristics of meat affecting its packaging requirements

  1. Meat is a highly perishable product and gets spoiled in a day’s time under atmospheric conditions.
  2. Exposure to air and light for a longer duration can lead to oxidative rancidity and discoloration especially in cured meats..
  3. Loss of moisture leads to undesirable changes in texture and color of fresh meat.
  4. Gain of moisture or exposure to humid conditions leads to microbial deterioration of meat.

Packaging requirements

A. Packaging requirements for fresh meat

  1. The packaging material should be moderately oxygen permeable.
  2. It should be drip proof.
  3. It should be moisture proof; however, mild transmission of water vapors is allowed only if meat is to be stored for very short period.
  4. It should be light proof.
  5. It should have sufficient wetting strength.
  6. It should preferably be non-shrinkable and non-stick in nature.

B. Packaging requirements for frozen meat

  1. The packaging material to be used for frozen meat should be oxygen, moisture, odor as well as light proof.
  2. It should be very pliable.
  3. It should have good wet strength
  4. It should withstand freezer temperature.

C. Packaging requirements for dehydrated meat

  1. It should be moisture and light proof.
  2. It should give sufficient protection against crumbling as meat products are mostly freeze dried.

D. Packaging requirements for cured meat

  1. It should be moisture, grease and light proof.
  2. It should be oxygen impermeable.
  3. It should also be pliable in nature.

Packaging materials and package forms

 A. Rigid

  1. Glass containers
  2. Metal cans
  3. Composite containers
  4. Aerosol containers
  5. Rigid plastic packages

 B. Semi-rigid

  1. Aluminum containers
  2. Set-up paperboard boxes
  3. Folding paperboard cartons

C. Flexible Paper

The basic papers used consists of bonds, tissue, litho, krafts, glassines, parchment and grease proof.

  1. Films – cellophane, cellulose acetate, polyethylene (HDPE & LDPE), Polypropylene, polyamide, polyester, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinylidene chloride, polyvinyl acetate and polyvinyl alcohols
  2. New films – amylase films (edible), Ionomers like Surlyn-A, Ethylene vinyl acetate copolymers, polypropylene copolymers, co-extruded structured films, aluminium foils and steel foil.

Flexible package forms

  1. Wrappers
  2. Preformed bags or envelopes
  3. Pouches
  4. Collapsible tubes

Packaging materials used for fresh red meat

  • Trays – made of polystyrene
  • Transparent films – cellophane, LDPE (most commonly used for fresh meat ), PVC
  • Shrink films – PVC, cellophane, rubber hydrochloride, polypropylene, irradiated PE and PVDC are used in shrink wrapping of meat.

Barrier properties of packaging films

Controlling moisture migration is crucial in maintaining the taste, texture, and overall quality of packaged food products.  Dairy, meat, seafood, and pet food products require keeping moisture inside a package to avoid undesirable changes in texture, taste, and microbial stability. Compared to glass and metals, paper and plastics are not perfect barriers to constituents of the atmosphere including moisture and gases. Two of the most important properties of plastics are WVTR and OTR.

I. Water vapor transmission rate (WVTR)

WVTR, often referred to as “moisture vapor transfer rate” (MVTR), is the standard indicator of how easily moisture can permeate a packaging film.  WVTR values are expressed as g/m2/day. Because transmission rates vary with temperature and relative humidity (RH), these parameters must be defined for a given WVTR value. Increasing WVTR values indicate greater permeability, and lower ability to keep dry products dry, and moist products moist. 

II. Oxygen transmission rate (OTR)

OTR is generally used to oxygen measure permeability and are expressed as cc/m²/day/bar. Again, the temperature and RH must be specified. Other gases, e.g. carbon dioxide and nitrogen, have different transmission rates but these are often in proportion to the OTR (with CO2 typically migrating through a material faster than O2, and N2 slower).

Advanced and emerging systems of packaging of meat and meat products

I. Vacuum packaging

It is a method of packaging wherein the meat/meat product is filled in packs and the packs are then loaded in the vacuum packaging machine which removes the air from the filled bags and after vacuum is created, the bags are heat sealed and thus making them air tight. The most commonly used film for fresh meat vacuum packages is PVDC. The same machines have also the facility for gas filling of the packs containing products for modified atmosphere and controlled atmosphere packaging.

II. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP)

It is a technology where in foods are packaged in high barrier packages in which air has been replaced with an artificial (modified) atmosphere. Commonly used gases are oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen; however, with the passage of time, the composition of the gases in the pack may change due to the utilization or production of gases by surviving microbes.

III. Controlled atmosphere packaging (CAP)

 It is similar to MAP except that the concentration of the gases or gas mixtures is maintained by refilling the packs with the fresh quantity of desired gases. It is basically a controlled system wherein the gases are added or removed to maintain a desired balance.

IV. Active/Intelligent packaging

It is defined as a mode of packaging in which the package, the product, and the environment interact to prolong shelf life or enhance safety or sensory properties, while maintaining the quality of the product. Active packaging is a modern development consisting of a group of techniques in which the package is self motivated and is actively involved with food products or act together with internal atmosphere to extend the shelf life while maintaining quality and safety. Active packaging which is planned to sense internal or external environmental changes and to take action by changing its own properties or attributes. Potential techniques used in active packaging are use of oxygen scavenging/carbon dioxide, ethylene and moisture absorbing systems by placing sachets, incorporation of antimicrobial agents into polymer surface coatings or in plastic films, sheets or on materials and into the pads for fresh produce.

V. Edible packaging

To reduce the amount of synthetic polymer waste, considerable research has been conducted to develop and apply bio-based polymers mainly from a variety of agricultural commodities and/or waste of food products. An edible film is a special active part of the food, which is regarded as a foodstuff from a legal point of view, along with the food packed in the film. Such films will have to fulfill same requirements as for food in general. The packaging system wherein the edible films are used to package the meat products for prolonging their overall shelf life and other properties is known as edible packaging.

FAQ’s

What do you mean by packaging?

Packaging is the technique of using the most appropriate containers and components to contain, protect, carry, identify and merchandise any product. It constitutes a vital link between the processor and consumer for the safe delivery of the product through the various stages of processing, storage, transport, distribution and marketing.

What are the three 3 types of packaging?

PRIMARY, SECONDARY AND TERTIARY

Why is packaging used?

Packaging is used to contain, protect, carry, identify and merchandise any product.

Why is packaging important?

To contain the product for convenient handling.
To safeguard the meat against spoilage by any physical, chemical or microbial agents.

Why packaging is a marketing tool?

The most important function of a meat package in addition to contain it is to present the product to the consumer in the most attractive manner possible and at the same time protect the product from physical damage, microbial deterioration and chemical changes.

What is Vacuum packaging?

It is a method of packaging wherein the meat/meat product is filled in packs and the packs are then loaded in the vacuum packaging machine which removes the air from the filled bags and after vacuum is created, the bags are heat sealed and thus making them air tight.

What is Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP)?

It is a technology where in foods are packaged in high barrier packages in which air has been replaced with an artificial (modified) atmosphere. Commonly used gases are oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.

What is Controlled atmosphere packaging (CAP)?

 It is similar to MAP except that the concentration of the gases or gas mixtures is maintained by refilling the packs with the fresh quantity of desired gases. It is basically a controlled system wherein the gases are added or removed to maintain a desired balance.

What is Active packaging?

It is defined as a mode of packaging in which the package, the product, and the environment interact to prolong shelf life or enhance safety or sensory properties, while maintaining the quality of the product.

What is Edible packaging?

To reduce the amount of synthetic polymer waste, considerable research has been conducted to develop and apply bio-based polymers mainly from a variety of agricultural commodities and/or waste of food products. An edible film is a special active part of the food, which is regarded as a foodstuff from a legal point of view, along with the food packed in the film. Such films will have to fulfill same requirements as for food in general. The packaging system wherein the edible films are used to package the meat products for prolonging their overall shelf life and other properties is known as edible packaging.

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