Monthly Archives: May 2016

Types of Food Packaging

Food products are the items that play an important role and hence are an integral part of our daily life. Food that we consume should be fresh and safe and the packaging used directly affects its safety, freshness and overall shelf life. Food is more susceptible to damage than any other item in the world. Food manufacturers are bound to take utmost care of their products after production until the time they are sold, because even the smallest mistake can lead to a huge financial loss as well as wastage of time and labor. When the food items are produced, the most important thing to be done is its packing. The packing depends on various factors like the type of food item, the process of production, the quality of the food, etc. Since there are different types of food products, there are also different ways of packing them. The following part of the article will throw light on the types of food packaging.

Materials Used for Food Packaging Containers

Plastic, glass, metal, aluminum and cardboard are the common types of materials used for making the packaging containers. We will look at each type of food packaging that makes use of these materials to store food.

Glass
It is used to make glass jars and bottles and is mostly used for storing liquids and sauces. The lid of the jar or the bottle’s cap keep the food product fresh, and the packed food does not require refrigeration before the first opening. These containers are breakable but if handled with proper care, can protect the food for a long time. They are the best refrigerator storage devices for leftover food. Another advantage of a glass jar is that the consumer can see the product inside if the glass is transparent, but sometimes it is invisible because the container is colored dark in order to prevent exposure to light.

Aluminum
We all are aware about the use of aluminum foil for keeping food warm and fresh. The best thing about aluminum containers is that they are inexpensive and made out of recycled materials. But if steel is the main component in aluminum cans, it cannot be easily recycled. Aluminum is also reusable. It can protect beverages like juices, beer and soft drinks for longer periods. It is cheaper and hence convenient to use for packaging large quantities of food.

Plastic
It is one of the most common materials used for packaging and comes in a wide variety of containers, wraps, buckets, bags, etc. Buckets are useful in storing items in bulk like wheat, cereals, sugar, rice, etc. Plastic wrap is a thin film with a sticky tape used to seal containers after putting the product inside it. Plastic food pouches have become very popular nowadays because they are lightweight, small to fit in the pocket and reusable. Plastic bags are also very useful as they increase the shelf life and maintain the freshness of the product. A technology called Modified Atmosphere Conditions (MAP) allows control over atmospheric conditions inside the bag resulting in slower deterioration. Items that are extremely moisture free can be stored in plastic bags for long without adopting the above technology. However, there is a problem with storing food products in plastic containers. These containers or buckets do not have the capacity to stop the entry of oxygen into the container. There is a slow transmission of oxygen through the polyethylene walls into the container. To fix this, you can use oxygen barrier bags made out of plastic or metal to increase the shelf life of the product.

Metal
Metal cans or containers are commonly used to store items like vegetables and fruits as they have an airtight seal and can preserve these items for a considerable amount of time. It is advisable to make use of plastic or metal wraps to seal containers like plastic bags to block oxygen transmission. Metal cans have an inner coating to prevent the food from reacting with the metal and getting contaminated while the heating process is on.

Paper and Cardboard
Tubes and cans are made out of cardboard to store snacks, spices, nuts, etc. These containers are environmentally friendly, as they are made from wood pulp. Dried food products can be stored in them for a long time maintaining its original condition. Paper is also used to make lightweight cartons and bags and sometimes, is used a colorful outer cover for products packed in plastic or metal containers.

Another type of food packaging is clamshell packaging which is also one of the most useful ones. Henceforth, do not let your food products get damaged only because of unawareness or incomplete knowledge about its packaging. Make use of the above food packagings, which you can utilize according to the need of your food product.

Milk Substitute

Milk substitutes replace milk in recipes as well as in a person’s daily diet. Though milk is a good source of protein and calcium, especially for vegetarians, many people are reducing its consumption due to lactose intolerance or allergies. Substitutes can be equally nutritious. Some products like ice creams use these alternatives instead of dairy products like cream.

Almond Milk
Almond milk is made by grinding blanched almonds with water. It is high in protein content and has no saturated fats. It was used as a popular beverage in the Middle East and Medieval Europe. Health benefits of almonds include treating constipation and lowering blood sugar levels. Due to high amounts of antioxidants present in this substitute, it helps in fighting the ill effects of free radicals. Organic almond milk can also be prepared at home. Soak one cup of almonds in water for a minimum of eight hours and blend them with four cups of water for a milk-like consistency. Store this in an airtight jar in the refrigerator. You can use almond milk as a substitute in cakes, cookies, puddings, and other creamy desserts.

Soy Milk
Soy milk is mostly used because it has a high protein content and reduces cholesterol levels. It is a stable emulsion of water, protein, and oil. It is prepared by grinding dry soybeans with water. The nutritional value of soy milk is similar to cow’s milk. Consuming half a cup of soy milk along with a bowl of cereal for breakfast can supply the body with high quality carbohydrates, vitamins, and proteins. It includes concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids that are good for the heart. Soy milk can be used as a substitute for milk in recipes such as cream sauces, pasta sauces, and salad dressings.

Grain Milk
Grain milk is processed from grains like brown rice, oats, rye, or wheat. It can also be made from flour or fermented grain. It is higher in carbohydrates and lower in saturated fats and protein compared to cow’s milk. It contains no lactose, so is beneficial for people who are lactose intolerant. Grain milk is also fortified with vitamins and calcium. Since it is free from milk protein, it is suitable for vegans and people with milk allergies.

Condensed Milk
Condensed milk is made by extracting water from cow’s milk. It is prepared from pasteurized milk and is not heat processed. To make your own condensed milk, you need to blend boiling water, melted butter, dry milk (fat-free), and a few drops of vanilla essence. Before using this substitute in any recipe, cool and refrigerate it for about a week.

Evaporated or Dehydrated Milk
Evaporated milk, or dehydrated milk, is fresh milk from which about 60% of water is removed. It is sterilized using a heat treatment and vacuum process, making it more concentrated than whole milk. These treatments give it a longer shelf life. It can be used to add a creamy texture to thick sauces, crock-pot recipes, and puddings.

Powdered Milk
Powdered or dry milk is made by treating evaporated milk to dryness. It has a long shelf life and can be used in various recipes like cakes and puddings. It is convenient to use and does not compromise with the recipe’s flavor.

Though there are many substitutes available in the market, nothing can completely replace milk. Consuming substitutes have some side effects, so care must be taken while choosing a suitable substitute for milk.

What do Food Expiration Dates Really Mean

Okay, so, you’re not the kind who stops in the mid of a supermarket and reads the entire list of ingredients on the carton of a product that you’re about to buy. You’re the kind who’re driven by the name, and the moment you locate the product, you drop it in the shopping basket. I think, I know. Take for example, you prefer Diet Coke over any other drink, an established brand name that it is. Paying a few dollars for that, you go home, take out the coke, and begin to drink, only to realize that it doesn’t smell like Diet Coke at all! What’s the first thing that strikes your mind? Have the Coke guys changed their trademark taste? Nope. Is it Diet Coke that you picked and not anything else? Not at all. That’s when, you read the words in black scribbled over the can, and realize that the Coke you were about to consume was expired. Conked. Perished. Dead.

Ohhhh, is all you say. So, got a fluttering peek of what expiry dates mean? They refer to the quality, which automatically questions the safety of a food product you’re consuming. Canned or packaged food products come with an expiry date, which means it’s unhealthy to consume them after a certain amount of period, considering the fact that not only does the food tend to become stale, the packaging gives way to a number of harmful bacteria inside. The following words make it easy to understand what food expiry dates stand for, and what is the importance of the same. You wouldn’t want to buy a product without checking the expiry date of the same hereafter. Trust me on that.

The Truth About Food Expiry Dates

Food expiry date refers to the date till which the food product inside the package is safe to consume, and that its quality deteriorates after that certain date. These dates are often assigned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States and America, which contribute to providing quality and safety to food products. This means, that if a product carton says that its expiry date is ‘June 30, 2011’, you should trash the product for the sake of yours and your family’s health. Today, almost all packaged food products have in written their Manufacturing Date as well as their Expiry Date. Many others quote the period during which you can consume a particular food product. For example, a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar can be consumed within 1 year from the production date, which means, it’s safe to eat the chocolate bar anytime during the year it was manufactured. However, if you preserve the chocolate bar beyond its expiry date, it may be unhealthy to eat it considering a few ingredients inside it that tend to ruin the flavor and the color. However, chocolate alone does not have a specific expiry period.

From now on, anytime you read words like ‘best used before’, ‘best use by’, ‘MFG DATE’, or ‘EXP DATE’, you know how to bring your brain cells to use, calculate, and grab a product that has the longest expiry date. You know, either you take some efforts to make sure you aren’t picking up an unhealthy product, or you simply avoid the expiration hassle by picking products that don’t have an expiry. However, products such as bread, cheese, milk, juice, and ketchups should never, never be bought without considering the expiry date.

All right, above all, you don’t need to totally rely on the expiry dates of your products, since, many products lose their quality and produce harmful bacteria when stored in unfavorable circumstances. For instance, even if your milk carton says you can drink this milk anytime up to 2 weeks, you can’t leave the carton on your terrace, and forget about it! The general guidelines of storage of milk say that you need to store milk and milk products in a refrigerator so that they don’t get spoiled. Along with checking the expiry dates, ensuring your products are stored safely is an important move you can’t ignore. All in all, the significance of checking the expiry date is only understood well after you’ve had a not-so-good experience with the food you’ve bought. To save yourself from such instances, sniff the food, check all the lingo that’s associated with the term ‘expiry date’ on your food product, and then, shell out your precious dollars.