Active packaging is the packaging technique which performs desirable functions. It functions other than the usual action of providing a barrier from the external environment. Active packaging is the emerging technology in which the functional properties of packaging materials are modified. This improves the shelf-life of the food products to be packed. Extrusion technology is a promising way to produce active packaging material in a cost-effective manner.
The functional properties of packaging materials are modified by incorporating them with specific compounds like nisin, BHA, BHT, lysozyme, etc., into the packaging resin and polymer. By adding these compounds packaging material functions in various ways like anti-microbial, antioxidant, scavenging and enzymatic functions and thus, known as active packaging.
Active packaging from extrusion technology
Active packaging material can be made from conventional technologies such as coating, lamination, casting, and extrusion. The field of active packaging is one the most considerable area of research & development and extrusion technology has the most versatile use around the world.
Extrusion technology is the technique which requires the development of pressure in order to force the melt through a die as the viscosity of plastic melts is high. This method is commonly used by packaging industries and considered as the cheapest method to make plastic films. In the high-temperature processing, active agents are used which are resistant to high temperature such as, BHT, BHA, alpha-tocopherol, lysozyme and nisin are currently used.
Extrusion methods for manufacturing active packaging materials
Extrusion technology is the simple and cheapest method to manufacture active packaging films. Active films made from extrusion technology can be mono-layered or multi-layered depends on the variety of polymer materials are used. Mono-layer extrusion and co-extrusion technologies are used to manufacture single-layered and multi-layered active films respectively.
Mono-layer extrusion uses one or more extruders to produce an active film of single polymer material. The solid polymer material is fed into the standard single-screw extruder in the form of powder, beads, flakes, or granules along with the active agents to provide functional properties to the packaging film.
Polymer material passes through barrel goes into the compression zone of the screw where the diminishing depth of screw causes the volume compression and shearing between the materials. It melts due to the hot walls of the barrel and the heat generated due to friction. After the compression zone, melted polymer materials are pumped through the die to provide its final shape and size.
In co-extrusion, more than one polymer materials are used to produce packaging films of more than one layer. This involves the coupling of more than one extruder feeding different resins to a single die head.
This simultaneously extrudes two or more different polymers that fuse at the point of film formation into a single web. Two-component slit die is used to produce two or three-layer film from two materials while three-component slit die is used to produce the five-layer film from three materials. Active agents can be added to the polymer resins at an extruder to provide functional properties.
Applications of active packaging
There are wide applications of active packaging in the field of food technology such as:
- It is used to preserve the quality of food and increases its shelf-life
- Ensures the safety of food
- Decreases the loss of food due to spoilage
- Reduces the use of additives in foods
Active packaging is one of the emerging areas of food technology. It provides various benefits to a wide range of food products and helps to maintain the quality of the product. Active packaging is a technology developing a new trust due to the recent advancement in packaging, material science, biotechnology, and new consumer demand. Active technology maintains the sensory quality and the shelf-life of the food products at the same time maintaining its nutritional quality and ensuring microbial safety.
Due to all these benefits of active packaging, there are continuous growing demands around the globe. There is an essential need for advancement in different technologies to produce the packaging film to meet the demand at an affordable cost. Extrusion technology is one the way to manufacture active films at low operating cost and its compatibility for continuous operations.
As this technology is also in current applications for producing various conventional packaging materials hence, it is easier to upgrade this technology to produce active packaging films without any hasty changes.
Know more about – StixFresh magic stickers
Know more about – Does eating fat make you fat
Rate this article -
B.Tech student at National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management