Packaging is critical to keeping meat and poultry products safe. Damage that can occur during transport to food service or retail customers or even end consumers can compromise safety, as well as safety from contamination, adulteration or potential food safety risks.
Packaging is also key to extending the shelf life of meat and poultry products. For converters, choosing the right packaging style and the right equipment supplier to work with depends on many factors, including: the type of product being packaged; the desired shelf life of the product; packaging and printing needs; equipment footprint requirements in the facility; and Existing production processes upstream and downstream of packaging.
Packaging meat and poultry
When packaging meat and poultry, processors need to consider many suppliers, equipment and technologies. Pallet sealing is a popular option for processors looking for shelf life and food-safe packaging benefits. Unlike thermoformers, tray sealers require pre-existing trays. Place the product in a tray, then seal the plastic film over the tray.
Pallet sealing allows manufacturers and retailers to perform multiple shelf life extension processes for individual packages, but for proteins, the seal shrinkage process is best known. This sealing process means that the product can be fully sealed with a shallow tray of stretch film.
Shrink wrap style
The shrink wrap style that consumers are accustomed to can be reflected in the product while providing a completely airtight and waterproof seal. From a capital expenditure standpoint, tray sealing is often considered a more economical option, as these machines are generally less expensive than thermoformed machines.
However, the cost of materials – prefabricated trays versus molding material – can be higher with the trays sealed. Aesthetically pleasing meat sealed in tray packaging looks more appealing to the end consumer. Pallet sealing options vary depending on the size and material of the pallet used. Tray sealers can be used to seal meat and poultry in rigid trays made from a variety of materials, including foam, polypropylene, PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic, and pulp and paper-based materials. Knowing the best pallet material for a product depends on the specific meat being packaged, the desired shelf life, and the desired durability. Many pallet materials available today are made from sustainable or recycled materials.
Speed and accuracy
The speed of any pallet seal packer will depend on the pallet size and the type of seal the processor is trying to achieve. Options range from basic sealing that still retains oxygen in the package to gas flushing modified atmosphere packaging that pushes oxygen out of the package. In addition, the tray sealer can also create skin packs, where the machine seals the film directly to the product itself.
Time and space
The time it takes to run a package through the machine is not what processors care about when considering which pallet sealer to buy. Depending on the number of product sizes or varieties produced by the processor, the more changes the machine can make during the production process. Downtime can equal lost production. Every time a new pallet size or configuration has to be run on the pallet sealer, the mold tooling has to be changed. In addition to saving time, tray sealers can also offer processors a space-saving method. Typically, these Utien Packaging Machines have a smaller footprint than larger thermoformers or other machine options.
Do I need a heat sealer with or without a cutter?
The Blade Heat Sealer is for those who want to make their own custom sized bags from film on a reel. Usually flat tubes or other polyethylene materials are used. Here, you simply measure the material and cut through any excess material by closing the jaws and sliding the easy-to-use cutting blade.
What are the benefits of vacuum sealing?
Vacuum sealing has many benefits. One is to save space. Once the product is vacuum sealed, the packaging is formed around the product to fit the shape, minimizing storage space. Others include preventing contamination and extending shelf life. Fresh produce lasts longer once oxygen is extracted from the shell.
What is the best way to determine which heat sealer is best?
If you are not sure which heat sealer is best for your project, we recommend that you send a sample bag or material for testing. Also, it’s always helpful if you have more information (like package specs), most manufacturers will recommend an approximate temperature for each sheet of film to seal. It gave us a good starting point to do some sealing tests. If you want, you can do it yourself after receiving the machine. In general, we recommend you start with a sealing time of 2-3 seconds at 150 degrees Celsius. Then let the stamp cool 2-3 times the heating time. This should give a good indication of whether to increase or decrease the sealing temperature and time.