Efficient preservation processes are, without a doubt, a key factor in the food industry and there are many ways of extending the shelf life of these products. Vacuum packing food is one of the most common ways of preserving it and one with which consumers are familiar.
In comparison with other methods, vacuum packing extends preservation periods, has hardly any impact on the organoleptic properties of the packaged food and does not call for use of preservatives. As such, it one of the most natural preservation methods on the market.
WHAT DOES VACUUM PACKING FOOD ENTAIL AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
According to the United Nations Food Waste Index Report issued in 2021, 931 million tonnes of food is wasted every year. That is, 17% of all available food. There are several ways of bringing these figures down and putting a stop to this waste and one of the best ways is to optimize and improve preservation processes. Vacuum packing is one the most efficient means we have at our disposal.
Vacuum packing for food is a preservation technique that entails removing the air around the product we want to package. This stops all types of bacteria and fungi that need oxygen to survive from proliferating.
In addition to extending the shelf life of food, the technique is also used for cooking sous vide and for storing different types of food without cross-contamination.
The most common vacuum packing method involves removing 99% of the air and leaving the remaining 1%.
THE BEST PACKAGING FOR VACUUM PACKED FOODS
When it comes to choosing the most suitable material for vacuum packing your products, the best thing to do is take the properties and the appearance of the product into account.
It is important to note that each material can have different varieties, and each variety can have different properties that adapt to different types of foods.
That is, foods such as sliced cold meats do not need to be packaged using the same kind of material as meats with bones, such as chicken. In the case of the latter, the material we choose for our packaging will need to be puncture resistant.
This is why there is no existing universal vacuum packaging material that is suitable for all types of food. Instead, ideally we need to select packaging based on the characteristics of the product we want to preserve.
At SP Group, we seek to champion innovation in the packaging industry and, with this in mind, a few months ago we launched the first ever vacuum packaging suitable for retort processes that is recyclable and has high barrier properties: the PP HB ECOTOP top film combined with the new thermoformable RST B ECO base web.
This material was designed specifically to withstand the efficiency and quality demands of vacuum packing in the food industry.
As with all our products, we believe that material sustainability is a key consideration during the packaging design and implementation phases, irrespective of the sector it will be used for.
This material is highly recyclable and meets all the sustainability criteria and circular economy implementation objectives set by the European Union.
In addition, even though this material works particularly well in combination with the thermoformable RST B ECO base web, it can also be used with polypropylene rigid thermoformable trays.
The combination delivers packaging that not only extends the shelf life of food but also has high barrier properties, is suitable for use in retort processes and is resistant to piercing. As such, it has positioned itself as a great choice for food exports, preservation and sale of products on the national market.
There are also other solutions such as PA PE which have excellent mechanical properties and are designed to adapt to different formats.
HOW LONG CAN FOOD BE STORED IN VACUUM PACKAGING?
Vacuum packaging is an excellent means of preserving food and helps extend the shelf life of food quite considerably. Nonetheless, since not all foods have the same characteristics, there is no standard storage period. In addition to taking the type of food into account, it is important that we keep other factors, such as if the food is fresh or cooked, in mind.
On the whole, and without taking these variables into account, when the food vacuum packing process is performed correctly, preservation can be between 3 and 5 times longer than when other methods are used.
For this process to work and for the shelf life of the food to be extended, the product needs to be refrigerated or frozen. This stops anaerobic bacteria (ones that do not require oxygen to develop) or toxins, such as botulinum, from forming.
Cooked foods have the shortest duration of all and should be eaten within 7 days and stored in the fridge. Meat, fish, vegetables, bread and desserts are the most durable and can last up to 3 years if they are vacuum packed and frozen.
At SP Group, we champion innovation in the packaging industry and aim to put more efficient and sustainable solutions on the market that support reduction of food waste.