Packaging maintains quality and keeps pathogens at bay.

In the face of consumers’ food safety concerns, need for convenience and demand for high-quality products, one factor quite literally keeps refrigerated and frozen food processors - and their products - from falling short.

No, it’s not some food-industry-inspired super hero. Rather, quite simply, it’s packaging. Well, that is packaging enhanced by a number of new innovations and technologies including the ability to protect against contamination. In addition, new offerings from Curwood, Oshkosh, Wis., also enhance convenience and preserve quality and integrity.

“To appeal to today’s busy consumers, packaging not only must be attractive and protect your product, but also must be easy to open - and, increasingly, recloseable,” says John Hackinson, Curwood’s vice president of marketing.

Curwood, which is part of the Neenah, Wis.-based Bemis Co., celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It marks a half century of supplying flexible packaging solutions to the food industry including the fresh and prepared meats, specialty prepared foods and natural and processed cheese markets. Curwood provides these markets with a number of packaging types - everything from pouches, rollstock, shrink films, bags and more - as well as complete processing systems - equipment manufacturing and service to structural design and packaging engineering.

Today, the company, which has locations all over the world, has applied this expertise and experience to meeting some of refrigerated and frozen food processors’ highest packaging demands. One of these challenges includes keeping pathogens at bay in chilled, ready-to-eat products such as pre-cooked meat and poultry, while also maintaining the products’ quality and convenience.

Tyson Foods, Springdale, Ark., turned to Curwood for the packaging of many of its refrigerated meat and poultry products including: chicken and beef strips, roast chicken, chunk/diced chicken, soups, sauces and dinner meats, says Steve Morris, the company’s director of corporate packaging innovation, R&D.

Tyson relies on surface post-packaging pasteurization (SPP), the immersion of packaged product in hot water (210º F), as part of its overall HACCP plan for these products.

“SPP is an additional technology used in the overall HACCP plan in-step with existing good manufacturing practices and processing barriers that further eliminate foodborne pathogens,” Morris says. “Shelf-life extension - based on microbial activity - therefore, is a natural result.

“Curwood is a major participant in our packaging acquisitions for our SPP processed products,” Morris says. He adds that Curwood has developed an “excellent variety” of packaging materials - and processes for combining packaging materials - that stand up to the harsh processing conditions of SPP.

While standing up to SPP enhances product safety by eliminating pathogens, Curwood’s packaging solution provides Tyson with other benefits as well, including providing better options than what was previously available.

Morris notes, “Curwood’s continued development on the packaging for our SPP chicken and beef strip products provides reduced cost over the previous three-layer adhesive laminate, and increased material yield, yet maintains the necessary graphic reproduction, seal integrity, barrier properties and structural stamina that is required of the product thro

ugh these high-stress processing,  distribution and handling conditions.”

He also adds that Curwood always is working on new packaging solutions and innovations.

“They [Curwood] actively prototype and propose new and revised materials that reduce our net expenditures, improve product performance and increase our processing/packaging efficiencies.”

- Curwood

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