CHICAGO - One of the largest problems facing package designers and food processors is how to keep oxygen out of packaged goods in order to increase shelf life and decrease the chance of contamination. Toyo Seikan Kaisha Ltd. of Tokyo claims to have developed a packaging material that removes oxygen from inside the package and increases the oxygen barrier to the outside.
At Future-Pak, Shogo Mukuno, the company's food science researcher, explained the performance of Toyo Seikan's Oxyguard packaging to conferees. He said the packaging can absorb residual oxygen and permeated oxygen during the sterilization and storage of food.
``The combination of the Oxyguard technology and layers of conventional high-barrier plastics such as [polyvinylidene chloride] and [ethylene vinyl alcohol] has achieved the same or better oxygen-barrier performance than metal containers,'' Mukuno said. ``It has a wide variety of applications.''
The oxygen-absorbing layer of the multilayer Oxyguard containers is made of a proprietary blend of activated reduced iron and thermoplastics.
The company first commercialized use of the technology last year for trays for semi-aseptically filled cooked rice. Mukuno said the company's data showed that the package decreased the ability of microbes to grow, negated the need for an oxygen-absorbing sachet to be included, and drastically reduced the amount of oxygen in the container - as well as the amount permeating the container walls.
Toyo Seikan also has used the Oxyguard process and material on pouches for medical transfusion solutions, according to Mukuno. He said it outperformed an aluminum-laminated pouch, while maintaining transparency and storage capabilities.
``The Oxyguard technology withstands sterilization at 110§ C [230§ F] and film capable of taking 120§ C, [248§ F] and retortable trays and cups are also being evaluated for a wide range of products, including foods and beverages,'' he said. ``We feel that the number of applications will continue to grow.''