We all know that edible products will not last forever. After a certain period, their taste and quality begin to degrade. In the food industry, that period is termed shelf-life. If you're a food-related business owner, it's crucial that you stay up-to-date with the techniques and methods that can improve your food's shelf-life.
Increasing the shelf-life of your products grants significant benefits, namely: reduces wastages from expired products, builds brand trust, and improves the long-term quality of your foodstuffs. All in all, these will help you save money in the long run. Hence, the need for increasing shelf life, and it’s possible in two ways - the first is through better food production processes, and the second is by utilising high-quality food packaging.
In this article, we will focus on the latter and look at ways to increase shelf-life by increasing the quality of food packaging, such as for disposable paper lunch boxes. But before diving in, you must first familiarise yourself with a few factors that reduce shelf-life.
The main factors that affect shelf life are:
- Ethylene exposure
- Temperature changes and extremes
- Microbial growth
Now that you're acquainted with these factors let's take a look at the solutions that combat them.
Airtight food packaging
Since one of the main concerns for organic foods is microbial growth, you can inhibit their growth using airtight containers. These containers, true to their name, allow no air to enter nor leave their confines, hence providing a suitable environment for food to stay fresh for a long time.
This also means that it can serve as a suitable base if you wish to develop and improve more on your packaging, just like other packaging techniques such as MAP.
Use of chemicals
Similar to the previous solution, this option aims to eliminate or remove oxygen from packaging via special chemicals. Using substances such as antioxidants and oxygen absorbers, oxidation can be reduced in sealed pouches within the food packaging.
Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)
The MAP solution is one of the most effective ways to maintain and preserve the freshness of food products. Generally, there are two ways of implementing it: active and passive. In both packaging methods, the atmosphere within is stripped or added with certain gases in order for its food content to retain its optimal quality for as long as possible.
The presence of these particular substances (or lack of it) inhibits bacterial growth in the product and significantly delays its decay. This technology is perfect for food products that have a short life, such as meat, fish, poultry, and dairy in the presence of oxygen.
Temperature is an essential factor that affects shelf-life, but it's also the easiest to control, thanks to modern techniques. Since many food products require a specific temperature to maintain their freshness, they need to be stored in a cool, warm, or temperature-neutral place, depending on the need.
Certain materials can be used for packaging that can insulate the heat and maintain internal temperature. Certain lunch boxes come with good temperature insulation and can be used to wrap food within containers. This is also done by using a vacuum in an airtight container.
All in all, food packaging contributes a great deal to increase the shelf-life of food products. Whether it's in your take out food boxes or some other packaging solution, employing any of these techniques is certain to improve your food's quality and build customer trust in your business brand. Therefore, there is no reason why your business should miss out on this!