Marrying Food Safety and
Food packaging can play an
important role in resource
Consumers, manufacturers, and brand owners require a lot from packaging. We need packag- es to promote and protect products, provide necessary information on ingredients, instruc- tions, and safety, and enhance supply chain
efficiency to ensure products reach consumers while
maintaining the highest safety and quality standards.
Over the last decade, as sustainability has become
a priority, we have asked even more of our packaging
materials. Companies are spending more on packag-
ing made of sustainable materials, including recycled
corrugated cardboard, high-density polyethylene, and
recycled polyethylene film.1
When considering sustainability and thinner materi-
als, food companies must look for solutions that allow
the package to do what it needs to do: protect the prod-
uct. Part of the sustainability of food packaging is the
use of lightweight materials. The other part is keeping
food fresh and protected throughout the supply chain.
Safety is nonnegotiable for every food manufacturer
and retailer. Packaging innovations like oxygen scavengers and temperature indicators offer solutions to extend
shelf life of food products. These technologies provide
an ideal solution for food manufacturers prioritizing
safety and working to reduce their ecological footprint.
Innovations in Sustainability
Recent years have seen great advances in technology
and nanomaterials for tracking products throughout the
supply chain, verification of the authenticity of prod-
ucts, and brand protection. Supply chain traceability in
particular has seen significant growth.
Some companies offer software that al-
lows full farm-to-fork traceability when
combined with packaging serialization.
As consumers, we trust that our food
supply moves through the supply chain
safely. Supply chain traceability technol-
ogy makes it easier for food companies
to ensure their products remain safe and
to react quickly to product recalls.
Perishable food products can benefit
from the use of temperature indicators to ensure customers are receiving
products at their optimal quality. These
indicators track a food’s temperature
history and change color, showing how
long food is still edible. For example,
there are temperature indicators that
change color faster at higher temperatures. There are also mobile apps that
consumers can use to determine the
remaining shelf life of their product.
This helps ensure consumer safety and
also prevents disposal of food that is
Oxygen absorbers and scavengers
are another solution for companies that
want to boost sustainability. A variety of
companies produce oxygen-absorbing
technologies that protect food products
from spoilage, mold, color and flavor
change, and loss of nutritional value.
Oxygen absorbers have applications
across food categories—some work well
with dry packaged foods, while others
are better suited for retort packaging
applications. By extending shelf life and
preserving the fresh look and taste of
food, oxygen absorbers do their part to
decrease food waste.
Making Sense of Expiration Dates
Confusion over “use by,” “sell by,”
and “best by” dates is a major contributor to food waste. With more than 10
different date labels on packages, consumers often find it difficult to discern
when and for how long a food product
is OK for con-
By Tom Egan
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