Have you ever wondered how the juices and milk remain so fresh even days and months after manufacturing? How do these beverages remain free from germs and bacteria even after months of packaging? How can these foods retain their nutritional values and freshness for so long time?
Yes, it is all possible because of Aseptic Packaging. Aseptic packaging helps to extend the shelf life of the product it contains, protects it from getting contaminated by the bacteria in the environment, and retains its flavor and freshness.
Aseptic packaging of food has gained humongous importance and demand in recent years due to the fast-paced lifestyle and growing awareness of nutritional benefits of different foods from a health point of view. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety and hygiene of the packed products have become the main concern for the food companies and the consumers because more and more people are preferring to order the food products online.
WHAT IS ASEPTIC PACKAGING AND ASEPTIC PACKAGING DEFINITION:
Aseptic packaging material is composed of six layers for the packing of beverages like milk, juices, oils, and other liquid food products. The combination of these six-layered consists of plastic, semi-rigid paper, and aluminium bonded to each other with the help of layers of adhesive in between. The ultimate aim of aseptic packaging is to protect the contents from external damaging factors such as transportation and weather while achieving the desired shaping of the package, desired stiffness, and strength while retaining texture, test, nutrition, and color of the product packed inside. The perfect combination of Aluminium Foil, Polyethylene(PE), and semi-rigid paper or white cardboard helps to achieve this desired final aseptic packaging material as follows:
a) Semi-rigid Paper or White Cardboard: The white cardboard helps to provide strength and stiffness to the final packaging product. It also makes the shaping of the packaging easy.
b) Polyethylene (PE): Polyethylene comprises the innermost layer of the aseptic packaging material. It is low-density polyethylene and makes the package liquid-tight.
c) Aluminium Foil : As aluminium foil has the best barrier properties against moisture, oxygen, water vapors, it protects the content from external weather factors. Due to this layer of aluminium foil, there is no need for refrigeration of the product as aluminium foil acts as a preservative itself.
ASEPTIC PACKAGING DEFINITION:
Aseptic packaging is the process in which the filling and sealing of the sterilized product is done in the sterilized packaging material in a totally hygienic environment which protects the food contents from micro-organisms improving its shelf life while retaining its original test, texture, colour, and nutrition.
ASEPTIC PACKAGING PROCESS :
The picture above gives an idea about the aseptic packaging process.
Aseptic processing involves the following main steps:
1) The product to be packed is sterilized first.
2) The packaging material or the containers and closures are also sterilized before filling up of the product in it.
3) The aseptic installations like Ultra High-Temperature unit, lines for products, and other relevant units are also sterilized.
4) High sterility is maintained during total filling and sealing operations. All the media entering the system like gases, air, water are also sterilized.
ASEPTIC PACKAGING EXAMPLES :
The aseptic packaging technology offers self-stabilizing packaging at different temperatures which allow manufacturers to store and ship their products across the globe. Due to this flexibility, the shelf life of the product increases, which in turn reduces the wastage of the food products. One more major benefit of an aseptic packaging system is that it reduced the need of adding preservatives to food products that are not considered so good for health.
Due to all these benefits, based on the market research, by 2024, the aseptic packaging market is supposed to grow to around USD 85.5billion.
The different industries in which Aseptic packaging system is widely used are:
1) Food Industry –
Earlier, food products like meat and tofu were packed in cans. But after the innovation of Aseptic packaging technology, food industries have started packing these food items in aseptic packaging as it provides more nutrition retention as compared to canned packaging.
2) Beverages Industry –
Aseptic packaging is widely used in beverage industries for packing of fruit juices, alcoholic drinks, liquid dairy products, protein drinks etc,. There is tremendous growth in aseptic packaging in the beverage industry in the past few years. Even ready to drink tea and coffee market is also expanding these days which needs aseptic packaging.
3) Pharmaceutical Industry –
As medicines and drugs need strong protection from external weather factors, aseptic packaging is the best option as it offers very strong barrier protection from temperature changes. Also as aseptic packaging offers stiffness and rigidity to the package, it offers the easy transportation of pharmaceutical products across long distances while retaining its effectiveness.
WHAT’S DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RETORT PACKAGING AND ASEPTIC PACKAGING?
In aseptic packaging, the product to be packed is sterilized under ultra-high temperature and then it is rapidly cooled down to ambient temperature. This sterilized content is then packed into sterilized aseptic packaging material and also sealed in a completely sterilized environment.
On the other hand, in retort packaging, the product is first packed and sealed in a metal can or a pouch, and then it is sterilized by heating it at an extremely high temperature.
WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF ASEPTIC PACKAGING:
The main advantages of aseptic packaging are:
1) No refrigeration of the food is required as the aseptic packaging material itself protects the contents from any variation in the outer temperature.
2) No need to add extra preservatives as the contents and the packaging material both are sterilized.
3) High nutrition protection due to less heat damage.
4) As the product and the packaging are already sterilized, no extra heating and sterilizing are required.
Due to rapid change in the fast-paced lifestyle of working people, there is more and more demand for food on the go. As aseptic packaging offers all the advantages like original taste, freshness, safety, and nutrition, people have started relying more on aseptically packaged foods. Aseptic packaging companies are also trying to bring more and more revolution in this field as the demand for hassle-free, ready-to-eat food products is rapidly increasing.
If you need any more information or guidance in the selection of the right type of Aseptic Packaging Materials, then please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Image courtesy: Respective brand owners whose products images are used in the above article for explaining the types of aseptic packaging materials.
Product information courtesy: SGM India