How Food Packaging Helps Keep Us Safe and Making Informed Choices

Pre made pouch filling machines

Before our food reaches the shelves of our supermarket — and eventually, our refrigerator and cabinets at home — it’s been through many hands and places. It usually has to go through packaging machines, food sealing machines, a food metal detector, and undergo an X-ray food inspection, all to make sure that the final product is safe to consume. This is important, given that every year just under 50 million people get sick, almost 130,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 people pass away from foodborne diseases. Obviously, those who work in the food industry want to keep this number decreasing and make sure that all food is safe for consumption. X-ray food inspections are an important part of this process, as well as making sure that packaging and sealing equipment is up to par with industry standards.

How Do X-Rays Help Keep Our Food Safer?
An X-Ray food inspection allows food safety controls much more minute and precise than the human eye. It also means that once food has already been packaged and sealed, it can still be inspected, to make sure it’s safe. They’re most useful for detecting magnetic and non-magnetic metals, but they can also detect things like chicken bones, salt lumps, or PVC in material.

In some cases, an X-ray will also be able to tell if there’s been a contamination of glass or stones entering the food or packaging, thereby contaminating the material. However, X-rays aren’t just ensuring the quality of the food, they’re also being used to figure out other issues with the product. For example, the lack of a product within the packaging, broken items, unnecessary air bubbles, and incorrect weights can all be detected with an X-ray food inspection, making sure that customers get the product they were expecting.

How Does Packaging Play Into Food Safety?
Many items will warn that if packaging is open or looks tampered with, you shouldn’t use it. It means that the food inside has been compromised in some way. That’s a great first warning sign that people should discard that food. For example, if you see a hole in the packaging on your chicken thighs or ground hamburger, you probably want to take it back to the store for a refund — who knows what contaminants could have entered?

Packaging also helps keep items fresh for longer. Vacuum sealed packaging, for example, can keep food for up to three to five times longer than when stored in plastic bags or containers. It ensures that the food is kept stable at the right temperatures and that no outside contaminants can make their way in.

Packaging also lets us know when items expire and what the contents of the package are. Some people may be looking for items without MSG (monosodium glutamate) for example, and steer clear if they read on the package that it’s one of the ingredients. We’re less likely to go for the milk that expires in two days, versus the milk that expires in a week. Packaging helps us as consumers make more informed decisions.

What Are Current Industry Packaging Trends?
Going green has become much more of an industry concern with around 60% of the population of the United States having access to a recycling program. And half of people globally are tending to decide whether or not to buy, depending on packaging that shows a certain brand contributing to a positive social and/or environmental impact.

For example, packaging experts say that each pound of plastic packaging — when applied correctly — could reduce food waste by almost two pounds! And, since 1977, there’s been an over 30% reduction in the amount of plastic used in soft drink bottles — and other companies are making similar changes, when it comes to how much material they’re using in their products.

X-ray food inspection and food packaging and sealing equipment helps keep us safe from contaminants inside our food, as well as outside contaminants that can get in during transit.

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