Optimal peelable seals in packaging concepts undergoing thermal processing
A European cooperation between knowledge institutions in Flanders and Germany, 28 companies in the food, pharma, packaging and packaging equipment industry and 5 organizations in the network field
During the last decennium, the consumer demand for convenient food packaging has steadily increased. Having an easy-to-open seal is a crucial aspect, both for convenience as for the quality assurance of the food product. This demand has motivated material researchers to develop new sealants currently on the market. However, to the best of our knowledge, research into the post seal quality during and after (thermal) treatments had not been investigated thoroughly. Therefore, the goal of the CORNET project was to investigate the effect of thermal processing on the quality (e.g. seal strength, tightness) of the easy-peel seals before, during and after such treatments.
How was this done?
- We selected the most relevant film/tray material, and characterized them using reference methods (DSC, viscosity, physical parameters)
- We investigated the relation between (film x seal parameters x thermal treatment parameters) and the seal quality. This was based on samples rather than on packages to standardize our measurements and findings
- We then ran experiments on a packaging level, focusing on trays and pouches
- We used these results to develop an optimization model with a limited number of tests to predict the peel behavior
Results and practical recommendations that the industry could expect
- We applied the results on films or packages of our user commission. This way, there was a direct benefit for their business
- A best practice guide telling a producer which packaging material to use, how to seal it and define the limits on thermal gradients the package will be able to resist
- An easy-to-use tool developed and accessible for the user committee members to optimize their own process