The main purposes of food packaging are:
- To preserve the product
- To protect the product from damage
- To make the product more attractive for the consumer
- To make it easier to transport the product
Plastics are widely used in food packaging because they are:
- Versatile- they can be flexible or rigid and can be moulded into shapes.
- Resistant to acids and other chemicals.
- Easy to print on
- Cheap to produce
Other packaging materials include:
- Glass, which is used for baby foods, salad cream and pickles
- Metal, which is used for soup cans, take-away containers and bottle tops
- Card/paper, which is used for fruit-juice cartons and egg boxes
Environmentally Friendly Packaging
Environmentally Friendly packaging causes less damage to the environment. There are three types:
- Reusable packaging- can be cleaned and reused. For example, glass milk bottles are reused.
- Recyclable packaging- is made of materials that can be used again, usually after processing. For example, glass, metal, card and paper.
- Biodegradable Packaging- will easily break down in the soil or the atmosphere.
Recyclable packaging usually carries symbols that show what the product is made from and how it can be recycled.
Layers of packaging
There are three levels of packaging:
- Primary packaging- is seen at the point of sale. It needs to contain and protect the food product as well as display and provide information.
- Secondary Packaging- is the middle layer of packaging. For Example, a cardboard box that contains a number of identical products inside.
- Transit Packaging- is the outer container that allows easier handling during transfer between factory, distribution centres and retailers.
The Food Labelling Regulations are written by the EU and can be changed at regular intervals. The items required by law as of today are:
- The product name
- Manufacturers name and address
- Ingredients List (in descending order of weight)
- Weight of the product
- Storage instructions
- Allergy Information
- Place of origin
- Use by/Best Before