Food Engineering

Beyond the sachet

October 1, 2004
Desiccants inside printed cards push oxygen absorbers into the baked goods segment.

Printed cards with oxygen scavengers inside have the potential to extend shelf life for baked goods and other packaged products with significant headspace. Source: Multisorb.
First came the sachet filled with silica gel and an ominous warning not to ingest these food-container inclusions. A decade ago, labels that adhere to EVOH and other film stock and are impregnated with oxygen sorbents burst on the scene. This active packaging has been a boon to the ready-to-eat meat (RTE) segment, reducing the residual oxygen that causes discoloration and flavor oxidation to trace amounts and effectively extend shelf life to up to 75 days.



The ante is being significantly raised, however, with oxygen scavengers in a printed card for products stored at ambient temperatures. Though they don't approach the shelf-life extensions of refrigerated RTE meats, the cards absorb considerably more oxygen than existing technology, opening up new possibilities for active packaging.

Multisorb Technologies Inc., Buffalo, NY, developed the desiccant card with high-end bakery products in mind. A 4-by-4 inch card is capable of absorbing up to 200 cubic centimeters of oxygen. Unlike the powdery silica inside a sachet, the oxygen absorbing material resembles a gummy material that won't disperse, even if the card is cut open. Equally important are the aesthetic advantages: instead of the health warning that sachets carry, the printed card carries more consumer-friendly information, such as nutrition information, a promotional message or a cents-off coupon. The cards should appeal to makers of energy bars and fresh baked goods in particular, according to John F. Solomon, Multisorb's business development leader.

The company debuted FreshCard at July's Institute of Food Technologists conference. A Philadelphia baker of gourmet soft pretzels may become the first commercial application. Adding one or two days shelf life to the preservative-free pretzels would significantly expand the product's distribution, Multisorb officials point out. Natural and organic foods are another potential application.

Multisorb was an early innovator of labels with oxygen sorbent strips, introducing FreshPax in 1995. Available in both packet and strip form, the oxygen scavengers vacate more oxygen than the strips that are used with RTE packaged meats, but they have some of the disadvantages of sachets. Sterling Foods, a San Antonio, TX, copacker that produces Act II pretzels for ConAgra, prodded Multisorb for an alternative to the sachets that give those pretzels up to five months' shelf life. The subsequent R&D led to FreshCard.

For more information:

John F. Solomon, Multisorb Technologies Inc.,
214-342-8722,
jsolomon@multisorb.com



News flash: bottles boost milk sales

Stop me if you've heard this before: kids drink more milk when it's in a plastic bottle than in a gable top carton. Here's something else plastic bottles can do: help position a fast food chain as a provider of healthy alternatives to its traditional fare.

Speaking at this year's Institute of Food Technologists' annual meeting, McDonald's Corp.'s Cathy Kapica outlined the quick-serve restaurants' strategy of adding menu choices to blunt charges that it is a major contributor to America's obesity epidemic.



A switch to plastic jugs from cartons is giving a kid-friendly image boost to milk and adding sales teeth to McDonald’s promotion of healthier eating and balanced lifestyles.
High-end salads are part of the strategy, and last year McDonald's sold 150 million of them. Low-fat milk is another, and conversion to the 8 oz. "milk jug" package will result in a projected 208 million unit sales this year, or 13 million gallons, according to Kapica, global director of nutrition.

"About 25 percent of Happy Meals are being ordered with milk because of the cool milk jugs," she says. The fast-food chain also added chocolate 1% fat milk to the mix when it test marketed milk jugs in December. Part of the Happy Meal Choices program, milk jugs went national in June.

The power of plastic was quantified two years ago in a study sponsored by the Dairy Marketing Institute (DMI) and involving multiple school districts. The study found that milk in PET and HDPE bottles outsold paperboard containers by 18 percent overall in school cafeterias and vending machines. Better packaging graphics also have been shown to give milk a sales lift, regardless of whether the package is paperboard or plastic, a DMI representative says.



Gravity and a guillotine device keep honey flowing out of plastic bottles of Granja San Francisco honey with no spillage.

Nutrexpa turns heads in honey package

A better mousetrap for a premium honey helped Grupo Nutrexpa become the top selling honey brand in Spain, and now an armada of the packages is making its way onto the shelves of leading US supermarkets.

With a boost from East Hanover, NJ, importer GlobeTrends Inc., Granja San Francisco has branched beyond specialty stores to include Albertson's and the Safeway chain among its honey customers in recent months, according to marketing manager Barbara Noureldin of GlobeTrends. Since the 2003 debut of the original multi-floral flavor, GlobeTrends has added a 12.3 oz. size to the original 17.6 oz. bottle plus a second flavor called Mediterranean. The honey is sourced near the San Francisco monastery in Spain and processed by Barcelona-based Nutrexpa.

The shatterproof, plastic bottle balances on its head during storage. Consumers flip open the top and squeeze to get honey out. When they stop squeezing, a guillotine device in the head cuts off the flow, eliminating waste and sticky residue from accumulating.

For more information:

Barbara Noureldin, GlobeTrends Inc.,
800-416-8327, ext. 17,
bnoureldin@globetrends.com