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Packaging Solutions for Food Safety

Safe food distribution, handling and storage. Read how operators are finding better solutions for these top of mind issues. A special message from Sealed Air’s Cryovac® food packaging brand.

Finding better solutions for safe food distribution, handling and storage will always be an imperative for foodservice operators and their suppliers.

“Food contamination can be prevented with proper controls, and packaging is an important part of that,” declares Lucian Gray, director, North America Foodservice Business Development for Sealed Air Corp.’s Food Care Division, of which Cryovac® brand food packaging is a part. “The effort starts from the minute the asparagus or the meat is processed and packaged and continues to the time of consumption.”

The Ovenable Advantage

Cryovac® Oven Ease® packaging enables pre-marinated roast, ribs, seafood, poultry and the like to be packaged in a vacuum-packed film bag that can go straight from refrigeration to the oven for cooking or rethermalization.

“You put it right in the oven or in the immersion rethermalizer and you are off and running,” says Gray. “Once you open the package and serve the product, you know it is the first time it has been touched since it was hygienically packaged at the start of the process.”

In addition, because meat packaged in this way has been trimmed, portioned, seasoned and seared by the manufacturer, kitchen time and labor has been saved and cross contamination has been avoided. What’s more, employees no longer run the risk of knife injuries.

Ovenable packaging comes in especially handy for limited-time-only menu promotions by giving operators greater control over inventory and labor, Gray points out.

A Temperature Monitoring Solution

Temperature control is another vital issue in food safety. Operators know that perishable foods must be kept constantly chilled to inhibit microbial growth. However, until recently, there was no quick and easy way to tell if food had been exposed to unsafe temperatures during shipping, handling or storage.

Sealed Air’s TempTrip® system for food shipments features a time and temperature sensor and a radio frequency identification tag. The tag can be ordered pre-configured for a product’s temperature spec. The food supplier simply presses the button, activating the tag, to begin monitoring temperature. When the product arrives, the operator can press the button again to see if the product has stayed within the desired temperature range. Scanning the tag with an RFID reader uploads the data to a cloud-based storage site that records the temperatures the product has been exposed to and the length of time it has been exposed since it left the plant. This can be done without opening the package.

“This gives operators confidence that the food they are putting into their operation has 100 percent integrity and never been abused,” says Gray.

Over time, as indicative technology becomes more cost efficient, Gray foresees it becoming an industry standard. “I believe it will be pervasive in the not-too-distant future, giving end users a better sense of food safety,” says Gray.

Flexible Pouches: Safety and Much More

A packing solution that provides food safety along with important back-of-the-house benefits is flexible pouch packaging, for soups, sauces, stews, condiments, fruit purees and more.

For delicate foods like guacamole, tomatoes and fruit purees, Cryovac® Freshness Plus® flexiblepackages have an oxygen scavenging technology built into the film that protects against oxidation, allowing them to stay fresher for longer periods of time.  

For foods that are heat treated, whether by aseptic, retort or hot-fill processes, Cryovac® has a variety of flexible film packages that provide safe shelf lives and are more advantageous than outmoded and unwieldy No. 10 cans.

Compared to cans, flexible pouches are more compact, space-efficient and lighter to handle, ship and store. “Unlike cans, pouches lay flat in a cube, so you can fit more product into less space,” says Gray.

They’re also easier and safer to use — no can opener is required, nor are there metal shavings to contaminate the food.

In addition, because the food inside a slim, flexible pouch can be heat-processed more quickly than inside a large, dense No. 10 can, the flavor, texture and nutritional value is better preserved.

One of the biggest advantages is the ability to store aseptic or retort pouches in dry storage, important for operators limiting their cold storage and reducing store footprints.

“Every square foot of real estate you use for back-of-the-house prep or cooling works against your business model,” says Gray. “So if you can put something in dry storage and have significant shelf life, it is a huge win.”

 For more information, visit cryovac.com [3] or call 800-391-5645.