After a rigorous application-oriented R&D of almost two years, Uflex has developed flexible packaging material with anti-microbial properties.
The special properties of the FDA approved packaging material keep the pouch active by scavenging microbial growth thereby enhancing the shelf-life of the cooked food packed inside.
Talking about the new flexible packaging material with anti-microbial properties, Mr Jeevaraj Pillai, joint president, Packaging and New Product Development, Uflex Limited, said: “In this flexible packaging material the sealant layer is specially compounded with anti-microbial properties. In fact, this is Active Antimicrobial Packaging and is used to actively modify the internal environment by continuous interaction with the food over the stipulated shelf-life.
“Active packaging can be defined as a system that modifies the environment inside the food package thereby altering the state of the packaged food system and its headspace to enhance its quality by extension of shelf-life, enhancement of sensory qualities, and maintenance of microbial safety.
“In a trial that we recently conducted at room temperature (without refrigeration or any temperature control), the sandwich packed in normal pouch was spoiled after three to four days as opposed to the one that was packed in the new flexible packaging material that could keep it protected from microbial growth for almost eight to nine days. Bread has active yeast, therefore, the real challenge for the packaging was to curb the yeast from outgrowing. In fact the most effective or let’s say the litmus test of this anti-microbial pouch is for bread because of its active yeast which in ripe temperature goes foul in about 48 hours if kept unprotected.”
Mr Pillai further explained: “The pouch remains dormant till it is empty and swings into action only when it comes in contact with food. We also conducted trials on stuffed Indian bread (known as Paranthas) and the results have been very encouraging. In a tropical weather like we have in India this packaging solution can be very helpful in stopping the growth of fungi and other microbes that spoil food.
“Trials for other varieties of perishable food products like those with high fat content and for meat and poultry products are on at the moment. We are very hopeful that the results will be equally stellar. In fact, using this technology, the content of preservatives used by processed food industry can actually be reduced. That is quite a feat in its own right.”
Explaining further about the utility of this packaging, Mr Pillai said: “Uncooked rice as you would know is susceptible to infestation by weaver mites. The specially compounded sealant layer with anti-microbial properties can also be used to extend the shelf-life of uncooked rice in the retail big bags. We are studying the extent of benefit in terms of shelf-life extension to this effect.
“Further this specialised sealant layer if incorporated in a Zip-Pouch can actually redefine its sales trajectory. While an ordinary two-ply Zip-Pouch only protects the food items from the environment to keep the aroma intact or let’s say protect it from dust etc. This product will actually work one step ahead and prevent the food from decay over a defined period of time thereby extending its shelf-life even at room temperature without any refrigeration / cold-chain for that matter.”
Talking about the latest development, Mr Anup Kansal, president, Packaging Business Uflex, said: “This new innovation from Uflex sits well with our existing range of Zip – Pouch Brand. This product is a great value to our consumers by securing their food at room temperature over extended periods. It is a boon to people who want to stick to home food while on their daily commute or travelling away from home.”
Speaking about the anti-microbial packaging, Mr Ashok Chaturvedi, chairman and managing director, Uflex Limited said: “The innovation and utility quotient of our new flexible packaging material with anti-microbial properties is very high. This is a concrete and definitive step towards curtailing food wastage through efficient packaging.
“To put things into perspective, I would like to quote from an oft-cited report by INCPEN that packaging is the ‘insurance’ to make sure that the energy invested in producing, growing and processing food is protected. It also ensures that the additional energy used to get that food to us, in transport, retailing, shopping, storing and cooking, does not go to waste. Energy required to make the packaging is 10% of the supply chain energy.
“I congratulate my engineers for coming up with this much-needed packaging innovation in this day and age where one-third of the food produced for human consumption in the world is lost or wasted.”