When considering food safety, it’s typical to begin with sanitation, cross-contamination, equipment, hygiene and any number of other aspects. It’s easy to forget the important role packaging plays in keeping your food products as safe as possible.

Meat department precautions

Crown Poly is a Huntington Park, California-based global plastic manufacturing company that supplies the supermarket industry. The company offers a number of instore packaging options designed to make the perimeter experience safer for all involved. 

Among these is the Carniceria Meat Bag from Pull-n-Pack. The bags come in a traditional red tint, a way to differentiate from other packaging throughout the fresh perimeter, and include safe handling instructions in black print, in both English and Spanish.

In addition, a stretchy linear low-density material prevents bones from ripping the bag while a star-sealed bottom won’t leak or tear, according to the company. The bags are also FDA approved for safe and sanitary food handling.

Safe snacking

With the rise of snacking comes a growing range of ready-to-eat meats often combined with cheeses, crackers, nuts, fruits, chocolate pieces or even a hard-boiled egg. These are all packaged in multi-compartment, single-serve snack packs.

Consumers can often forget that these are highly perishable products and cannot be treated like other, more shelf stable, snacks.

Suppliers have turned to preservatives, bioprotection cultures and more to ensure the perishable snacks stay safe in the packaging. 

Organic acid salts are some of the most effective antimicrobial agents used in meat and poultry products. They are basically organic acids, such as propionic acid, acetic acid and citric acid, buffered, also known as neutralized, with a conjugate base. 

Bioprotection cultures are particularly useful in fermented ready-to-eat meats, including sausages and charcuterie. Bioprotection is a natural way to inhibit spoilage and protect against harmful contamination in food. It refers to the use of safe bacteria, mainly lactic acid bacteria, selected from the natural microflora of food. These good bacteria reduce the acidity of meat, which in turn inhibits bad bacteria from growing.

Some manufacturers have started using high-pressure pasteurization as an intervention step. It is very effective and offers a very clean label. The concern with using this method alone is that it leaves the meat unprotected once the package is opened, as when the meat is assembled into snack packs.

For some on-the-go snacks, resealability is all that is necessary. Resealability continues to expand the possibilities of on-the-go snacking. Combination snacks, for example, can offer meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, etc. in containers that can be closed and finished at a different time without spoilage.

Delivery needs

With more and more consumers choosing delivery for their supermarket foods — both fresh and prepared — retailers must take extra precaution when choosing packaging. 

The packaging they choose must be able to not only withstand transportation, but it must be tamper-evident.

“Relative to the food delivery service, some reports are saying that approximately 25% of food deliveries have been compromised when the driver decided to take a taste,” says Cindy Blish, Inline Plastics. “That is, of all the drivers quizzed, 25% admitted to tampering.”

Those statistics come from a study by US Foods that says the average person has two food delivery apps and uses them at least three times per month. That study says that 28% of drivers admit to having taken food from an order and that more than half of drivers say they’re tempted by the smell of the food they deliver. Furthermore, 85% of customers say they want restaurants and retailers to use tamper-evident labels to address the issue.

That obviously throws up a gargantuan red flag when it comes to food safety.

“Needless to say, tamper-resistant or tamper evident packaging like the very well recognized Safe-T-Fresh brand would become a necessity,” Blish says. “Not only is the packaging rigid and tamper evident, it is also leak resistant – making it easier for the product to be delivered without spills and other messes.”

Anchor Packaging, Ballwin, Missouri, helps retailers keep their deliveries safe with the new Crisp Food Technologies Containers. An exclusive convection cross-flow technology is designed to relieve moisture and condensation while also maintaining product temperature. The company says the design of the packaging system retains internal temperatures better than other market-leading rigid containers currently used for fried foods. The line is also designed to withstand temperatures up to 230 degrees when placed in warming displays.