The use of plastic in food packaging has continued to grow, in part due to the low costs of the materials. Plastic also offers several functional advantages over traditional materials, such as thermosealability, optical properties, and unlimited sizes and shapes. The types of plastic used in food packaging vary, but most commonly are polyester and polyvinyl chloride. In addition to polyolefin, other plastics commonly used in food packaging include:
Trays are commonly used in food packaging, and can carry meat, plant seeds, and beverages. Trays are generally flat but have raised edges to keep the product in place. Various materials are used to make trays, and some are recyclable. Food packaging also comes in bags, which separate the food from the air. Boxes are the simplest form of food transport and contain a number of different materials. These materials are commonly used to package cereals and frozen pizzas.
In addition to protecting the food from the elements, food packaging also provides important information about the food. Some of these include nutritional content, traceability, convenience, and tamper indication. Packaging must meet industry requirements and consumer expectations while minimizing the environmental impact of food packaging. With its multiple benefits, food packaging helps increase the safety and quality of food. The primary function of packaging is to protect the food from three classes of external influences: air, moisture, and dust.
Food and packaging interactions are critical components in the production of food. In fact, the interaction between food and packaging materials is essential for the safe transport of food. Packaging materials have different inherent properties, including rigidity, permeability to gases, and oxygen. These factors will have an impact on the selection of the most appropriate material for food packaging. They must meet certain hygienic and safety standards and ensure product integrity. If these factors are compromised, food quality may suffer.