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The Critical Role of Barrier Properties in Food Packaging

This article delves into the essential role of barrier properties in your packaging.


An image of a outside elements that your products need barrier protection against.

When it comes to food packaging, one of the most crucial aspects that determines the quality and shelf-life of the product is the barrier properties of the packaging material. At Multiplastics, we understand the critical importance of the food packaging and its profound impact on maintaining the freshness, safety, and longevity of food products. In this blog post, we will delve into why barrier properties are essential and how they contribute to preserving the integrity of food items.

 

What Are Barrier Properties?

Barrier properties refer to the ability of a packaging material to resist the passage of substances such as gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide), moisture, aromas or contamination. These properties are vital in preventing external elements from compromising the food product and in controlling the internal environment of the packaging to ensure optimal conditions.

 


Why Barrier Properties Matter


1. Protection Against Oxygen

Oxygen is a primary culprit in the deterioration of food products. It can lead to oxidation, which affects the taste, colour, and nutritional values of food. For instance, oxygen exposure can cause fats and oils to become rancid and fruits to brown. Barrier materials that effectively block oxygen are essential in preserving the sensory and nutritional qualities of food.

 

2. Moisture Control

Moisture can have detrimental effects on both dry and perishable food products. Too much moisture can cause dry foods like cereals and crackers to become soggy, while too little moisture can dry out products like cheese and cured meats. Packaging with good moisture barrier properties helps in maintaining the desired texture and consistency of the food, thereby extending its shelf-life.

 

3. Preservation of Aromas and Flavours

Food products often contain volatile compounds responsible for their aroma and flavour. Barrier materials that prevent the escape of these compounds ensure that the food remains flavourful and aromatic until it reaches the consumer. This is particularly important for products like coffee, spices, and ready-to-eat meals.

 

4. Prevention of Contaminants

Effective barrier properties also prevent contaminants such as dust, microorganisms, and pollutants from entering the packaging. This is crucial for ensuring the safety and hygiene of the food product, protecting consumers from potential health hazards.

 


Types of Barrier Materials and Layers


Different materials offer varying levels of barrier protection. At Multiplastics, we offer a range of high-quality high-barrier materials, suitable for diverse food packaging needs:

Plastic Laminate Films

These are versatile and can be engineered to provide excellent barrier properties against oxygen, moisture, and light. Common laminated plastic films include polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and nylon (OPA) which is known for its excellent mechanical strength, puncture resistance, and barrier properties. Each type can be tailored to enhance specific barrier properties.

 

EVOH (Ethylene Vinyl Alcohol)

EVOH is renowned for its superior gas barrier properties, especially against oxygen. It is often used in multilayer packaging structures to significantly extend the shelf-life of oxygen-sensitive products. EVOH is clear and flexible, making it suitable for various types of food packaging.

 

PVdC (Polyvinylidene Chloride)

PVdC offers exceptional barrier properties against moisture, gases, and aromas. It is commonly used in food packaging to protect products that are highly sensitive to oxygen and water vapor. PVdC coatings are often applied to other films to enhance their barrier performance.

 

AlOx Coating (Aluminium Oxide Coating)

AlOx coating is an innovative barrier material that involves applying a thin layer of aluminium oxide onto plastic films. This coating provides excellent barrier properties against oxygen and moisture while maintaining the transparency of the film. AlOx-coated films are ideal for packaging applications where product visibility is important, such as in ready-to-eat meals, snacks, and confectionery.

 

Foil Laminates

Aluminium foils are often used in combination with plastic films to provide an almost impermeable barrier to gases and moisture. Foil laminates are particularly effective for high-barrier packaging requirements, such as for coffee, ready-to-eat meals, and pharmaceuticals.

 

Coated Paper

This offers a sustainable option with good barrier properties, often used in conjunction with other materials for enhanced protection. Coated paper is frequently employed for packaging dry foods like cereals and snacks.

 


Conclusion

Barrier properties are fundamental to the effectiveness of food packaging, directly influencing the quality, safety, and shelf-life of food products. At Multiplastics, we are committed to providing advanced packaging solutions that meet the highest standards of barrier performance. By leveraging the latest technologies and materials, we help ensure that your food products remain fresh, flavourful, and safe from the point of production to the moment they are enjoyed by consumers.

 

For more information on our range of barrier materials and how we can assist you with your packaging needs, please contact us on: 01606 330011.

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