The packaging is an integral part of the processing phase of a product. The sealing is done to prevent contamination of the contents, which results in reduced quality or spoilage. Sealing differs in each product; for example, the degree of tightness requires being very tight, and others should have ease when opening. The degree of tightness depends on the set requirements of each product. Quality seals protect the excellent state of the products inside, and it is very critical when dealing with the safety of food products.
Package testing systems like FlexPak package leak detection helps preserve integrity levels of the food and nonfood products inside a packaging. If the packaging experiences any physical breach, it directly spoils the quality of the products packaged. Detection of any leaks is done using detection machines within a brief period and if safeguards the quality of products before they reach the final consumer; for example, the pharmaceutical industry uses high-quality machine detectors. Due to the changing climatic conditions, the packaging is advised to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. A well-designed seal and packaging costs higher than the poorly done packaging hence a production company should choose the best packaging options which work within their budgets.
Seals in Packaging
Even the slightest physical break of a food or pharmaceutical packing allows bacteria to access the contents inside, compromising their quality. Contamination may be from fluids or the surrounding contaminated environment, including the air. Measurements are carried out to determine each seal’s strength and its tendency to leash over the product’s life on the shelves. Seal strengths differ in all the distribution stages of the product in question. All manufacturers should note that:
- Each testing procedures are meant for different packaging.
- The testing procedures have different sensitiveness when finding leakages in the packaging.
- When the temperatures are increased during the sealing process, the seals produced are not always strong.
- All methods used in testing give different results on the strength of seals.
- There is a high deviation in the variability of strength between the materials used.
Measurement of Sealing Procedures
There are different sealing options available in the market that manufacturers choose to determine the seals’ integrity used in packaging. The procedures used are part of hazard analysis and the control of packaged food safety to retain their hygiene and quality within the product’s shelf life. Testing the protocols is advised when there is a change in production procedures, for example, new sealing materials or new workmanship. The testing ensures that the newly added labor and materials are used efficiently to maintain the standards required in each product seal.
Distribution of Products in Relation to Seals
For a product to reach the final consumer, it is transported from the manufacturer’s warehouse through the chain of transportation to the last point where the consumer purchases the product. Some of the chosen transportation channels impact a lot of stress on the packaged product. For example, products bought on online platforms take a longer journey than the ones purchased from your local shop. The product is moved from the manufacturer’s warehouses to the destined distribution center directly to the online seller. The product is mostly packed in larger crates used in shipping with other products. The products are further repackaged into smaller boxers when sent to the retailers and finally to the consumer. All the distribution parameters put in place causes a lot of unpredicted stress to the packaging. The seal strength may be tampered with, affecting the quality of the protected contents.
Testing of the Seals
The seals’ strength is tested either in simulation or actual road tests, which are designed to mimic stress factors induced on the packaged products. They aim to ensure that the packaged products reach the consumer when they are intact and that the packages can endure the stresses from the distribution channels. Seals provide that the products are not affected by the several environmental conditions that impact them. Various standards and methods are used to distribute food products, and the packaging has to pass specific testing. Most of the tests used are based on the detection of possible leaks in packaging. In bubble emission, the package is submerged in a vacuum, and leaks are signified by bubble appearance.
Through die application of one side of a seal, the dye diffuses through the dye penetration test’s available openings. Ultrasonic seal testing is used as a quick assessment before engaging in detailed leak investigations. Gas leak tests are only performed on sealed products or samples, and the mass spectrophotometer shows the gas migration of gas inside any package to the surrounding environment. Vacuum decay tests show the reduction of pressure of the package if its seal is broken. All the testing methods used on determining the quality of any particular seals are used to ensure all safety protocols are taken to prevent contamination of any food products in the distribution channels before it gets into the hands of the final consumer.
The texture analyzer method is ideal for carrying out mechanical tests on the quality of a product’s particular sealing. It is mainly used to test the strength of the seals in a product. Each side of a seal packaging is placed into pairs of tensile grips, and the grips are separated at a certain speed, and the obtained strength of the particular seal is defined as optimum force attained before the seal breaks. This kind of technique is used in food and pharmaceutical products which constitute tight and flexible films like the yogurt seals. Sections used in the sealing testing represent the quality of the whole sealing process. Compliant packaging material is usually not suitable for this kind of testing as it leads to strains that underestimate the strengths of the used seals.
The tests used in any particular seal testing determine the ultimate force a seal can contain before it breaks. Leakage in food products compromises the food quality. The seals’ quality may be affected during the distribution of products from the manufacturer to the consumer.