The food packaging industry is starting to see the arrival of some exciting new technologies. With the growth of on-the-go packaged foods ,packaging innovators are keen to create a safer alternative to plastic packaging when it comes to foods like poultry.

Food can become contaminated when it’s exposed to the environment. And although some traditional food preservation techniques like drying, freezing, heating, fermentation and salting can extend the shelf-life of food products, food can still become recontaminated, which can make it inedible. Conventional food packaging aims for shelf life, quality, and safety. But illnesses like food poisoning are still a big issue. That’s why companies like Parkside have developed active food packaging to help eliminate the bacteria that can cause illness.

These solutions work by adding different active substances to the packaging materials to improve their functionality. One form of active food packaging, antimicrobial packaging, uses materials which have antimicrobial properties to tackle bacteria.

It’s made with a silver-based substance, known to kill 99.9% of micro-organisms, that’s added to coatings used on the outer packaging. The main reason we need this in the UK is because campylobacter, the most common cause of food poisoning here, is one of those micro-organisms. So this is helping to fight a huge health risk for concerned consumers.

Paula Birch, sales director at Parkside, says: “The demand for ready-to-eat, fresh and easily prepared food is increasing. Initially the packaging of these foods was simply to provide protective and barrier functions. However, the growth of bacteria on packaged foodstuffs continues to cause problems regarding consumer food safety and of course, product quality. To deal with this issue, Parkside has designed and developed a range of flexible packaging solutions which incorporate antimicrobial technology to improve pack functionality.”

So it seems their technologically advanced coatings help make food safer, but we have a feeling it won’t stop there. The antimicrobial packaging industry has now got an opportunity to be used to increase the shelf life of consumables. For example, beverages such as alcoholic, non-alcoholic and dairy-based drinks would all benefit from this kind of antimicrobial technology. It could also be used for some cosmetic packaging, which would improve the quality and shelf life of the products inside. Safer, longer shelf life, and better quality? It’s a win-win-win situation.

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