Considerations for optimal food barrier packaging

Considerations for optimal food barrier packaging

20 October 2021 | Lynneric Potter, Food Packaging Technical Lead

The simplicity of packaging disguises the extensive research and care taken to achieve the optimisation and elongation of a packaged food’s shelf life. With a growing variety of new and established materials, each with specific characteristics, increases the potential for selecting unsuitable packaging material, which may render the enclosed product vulnerable to surrounding environmental factors, such as water, humidity, and oxygen, including its future storage.

Food and packaging materials have different sets of properties, so it is important to understand what these are when determining the optimum solution. To ensure sufficient protection of the product and, maintain its desired shelf-life, we have taken a closer look at how packaging material properties can be measured.

Barrier properties tests on packaging

With the presence of oxygen leading to unwanted microbiological proliferation and, with certain food extremely sensitive to moisture, barrier testing identifies properties that prove the efficacy of each element of the packaging. The permeability of materials at specific environmental conditions is measured with:

Both tests are carried at Campden BRI for plastic materials mainly, including films and rigid containers, but also for board formats and bottle closures.

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What can I do with OTR and WVTR measurements?

To ensure packaged products or packaging materials provide the desired product shelf life, it is critical to understand the OTR and WVTR through both the materials and the final finished package.

Wherever you are in your product journey, the OTR and WVTR data we generate can support your product development, manufacture, and marketing by:

  • Validating new material and developing packaging specification. With a range of storage rooms available from -18°C to 40°C, material can be stored and tested periodically, for example for shelf-life storage trials, to understand if the barrier properties are impacted by temperatures and humidity variation. This is particularly important with new materials when there is no historical data available.
  • Ensuring the material, you receive is to your specification. We can measure:
    • WVTR - between 0.005-100g/m2/day for films and packages and testing is carried out according to ASTM F1249.
    • OTR – between 0.008- 432000cc/m2/day - ASTM D-3985 for films and packages and testing is carried out according to ASTM F1927or ASTM D-3985.
  • Helping you as a one-source solution if you are having an issue with a material along with other physical tests and analysis.
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Lynneric Potter

About Lynneric Potter

Lynneric Potter is a food packaging specialist within the Department of Food Manufacturing Technologies at Campden BRI where she has worked since 1999. Lynneric’s main activities involve consultancy and testing of packaging materials to ensure they are fit for purpose.

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Food barrier packaging

Find out more about barrier packaging materials and discover how we can help you extend the shelf-life of your products.

Food packaging plastics testing

Need help in this area?

Campden BRI offers independent analysis as part of a wider testing regime if required. Our range of complementary methods are available to assess whether your packaging is fit for purpose, including strength and integrity testing.

support@campdenbri.co.uk +44(0)1386 842000


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