This chapter connects the main requirements of meat product preservation with the most used plastic packaging structures, highlighting the role of packaging on the extension of food products shelf life and allowing their distribution and consumption in the most diverse areas of the world. An overview on the main degradation mechanisms of meat products is provided as background for the deeper discussions on flexible packaging films’ compositions that is most used for meat packaging. Details on the performance of different sealing materials, gas barrier layers, and structural compositions as well as specific characteristics of packaging such as vacuum bags, shrink barrier bags, thermoforming, vacuum skin, and modified atmosphere packaging are discussed in this chapter serving as building blocks for an optimum packaging design, from food preservation to the final packaging end use. Finally, as part of an evolving world, new packaging trends are discussed, covering consumerism, sustainability, and functionality aspects.
The consumption of meat products refers back to the beginning of human history, with first ancient butcher activities believed to start around 10,000 BC . Butchers are present in Bible parables and were an active community in ancient cities as Rome and London fostering the growth of pastoral economy around these places and supplying meat pieces to populations that could afford it. This arrangement was dominant till the eleventh century. The conservation and transportation of meat products were still scarce with rudimentary methodologies as salt and drying, limiting the industry to shops located into larger social agglomerates. Later on, during the 1700s the first slaughterhouse started to pack meat in the USA, fostering industry growth around cattle and pork, but still conservation and transportation were limited and challenging.
First ice trade companies were established in West Virginia, USA, during the early 1800s, and, with the volume expansion of ice commercialized during the late 1800s, the product was also a source of refrigeration for meat products across the USA and few other countries. With the advancements of refrigeration cooling systems, new containers and storehouses were designed to preserve perishable products and expand their movement among the countries, establishing logistic chains to transport chilled and frozen meat products safe and efficiently. Another interesting finding during this era was the impact of CO2 on meat preservation; it was found during meat product shipment from Australia to England that the use of solid CO2 extended the shelf life more than meat held under ice. At this time, rudimentary packaging materials were used to reduce contamination possibilities from production center to consumers.
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Nícolas Mazzola and Claire I.G.L. Sarantopoulos (August 23rd 2019). Packaging Design Alternatives for Meat Products, Food Processing, Romina Alina Marc, Antonio Valero Díaz and Guiomar Denisse Posada Izquierdo, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.88586. Available from: Packaging Design Alternatives for Meat Products | IntechOpen