What is the purpose of food packaging?


Quick Answer

Food packaging serves several purposes: it protects and preserves food from contaminating and spoiling, enhances product attractiveness and facilitates transportation of food goods. Packaging material comes in many substances, including plastic, aluminum and containers. Food packages, regardless of item within, contain labels and important consumer information, which helps consumers select products.

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Full Answer

Food packaging, most importantly, protects and preserves food items purchased by consumers. Packaging retains product freshness and prevents risk of cross-contamination with other food items, pesticides and harmful pathogens. The food preparation, handling and transport process exposes foods to chemical, biological and physical risks. Wraps, containers and other packaging materials, however, maintain products' freshness, physical integrity and visual appeal from source to end consumer destination. Different packaging materials protect food specifically from these hazards. Chemical exposures include sunlight, gases and moisture.

Packaging materials made of glass and metal shield foods from pathogens and chemicals. These materials vary in permeability, which permits or denies package entrance from outside elements like air, moisture and bacteria. Biological packaging materials include paper, cardboard and cushioning materials. These items protect food from moving around and getting crushed during packing, transportation and shelving. In addition to protecting foods, packaging traces food through the production, processing and distribution phases. In turn, tracing ensures quality and safety.

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