France-based Rosas claims it has patented technology that can extend the shelf life of food from 21 days to 21 weeks whilst saving on packaging materials.
The process, designed for thermoformer machinery, extends shelf life by complete oxygen removal, the company claims.
Significantly extending the shelf life of food will mean that products can be transported without freezing, with both economical and ecological benefits.
However, the technology is still in development. The challenge at present is to improve the quality of the plastic film, so that it remains air tight for longer.
Removing oxygen extends shelf life
Rosas maintains that removing the oxygen from a product will increase its shelf life, sometimes up to 24 weeks. However with traditional thermoformer packaging methods it is difficult to remove 100 per cent of the oxygen.
The double chamber system developed by Rosas allows the tray sealing enclosure to be cleaned of oxygen before the introduction of the product. The product can similarly be completely sterilised in a separate chamber before it is introduced. This results in 100 per cent oxygen removal, says the firm.
All types of products, solid or liquid, that are packaged in this way can benefit from the technology, although further investigations need to be done into the exact extension of life possible for each product, Roland Rossi, Rosas' company director, told FoodProductionDaily.com.
The company claims that the technology can also be used in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries as well as being used for packaging sensitive computer parts.
The technology also allows for up to a 15 per cent saving on the plastic film, according to Rosas, as the injection of the sterilising gases occurs in the sealing enclosure and not through perforated holes in the plastic, therefore reducing the width of the film needed.
"With the extension of shelf life that we can reach, we can completely remove the need for freezers in transportation" said Rossi, explaining that if a product can be kept for up to 21 weeks it can be transported to the other side of the world without the need for freezing.
If freezing during transportation and storage could be eradicated, significant financial and ecological savings could be made, a particularly important goal in the food production industry at present.
Improving the quality of film
Rosas' has developed a prototype of the machine however the technology is not yet available for the industry, mainly due to difficulties with the plastic film itself.
"Once heated and thermoformed the plastic doesn't remain one hundred percent air tight. It is good enough to keep the food safe for 21 days but not for 21 weeks" Rossi said.
"In the past there was no reason to develop plastic films that would last longer as no packaging machine was able to completely remove the oxygen" he added.
The company is calling for partners to help bring this technology to the industry.