Vacuum packaging guide
Vacuum packaging is an efficient way of packaging a variety of products. Vacuum packaging is used in commercial and residential applications to preserve food. It is considered a form of modified atmosphere packaging. This is any form of packaging where the atmosphere around the product is altered from the external atmosphere.
|Increased shelf life|
|Reduced product loss|
|Sealed barrier from external elements|
|Seals in flavors|
|No chemical preservatives required|
|Improved product presentation|
Packaging meat can be tricky, different cuts and storage times require the right packaging to prevent spills and extend shelf life.
Large cuts of meat with inadequate packaging can puncture materials causing spills and accelerating spoilage rates. Longer freezer storage with insufficient packaging can quickly become freezer burnt and degrade food quality. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, approximately one-third of the food produced worldwide goes to waste. It is estimated that 20% of meat produced globally goes to waste. Seafood is higher at 35% waste.
|Which cuts of meat will be wrapped?||The cut and type of meat being packaged are important in determining the right materials to use. Larger primal cuts require a thick film to prevent tears from bones. Smaller cuts and deli meats may not need thick materials for packaging due to shorter storage times. Whole chickens use different packaging materials and processes from whole fish.|
|How long will the meat be stored?||Storage times are crucial for determining the right packaging material and process. Shorter storage times from market to home require lighter packaging materials versus heavier materials needed for longer storage times. Heavier packaging materials help to prevent freezer burn during long term freezer storage.|
|How many packages do you anticipate wrapping daily?||If wrapping under 1000 packages daily, a manual or semi-auto machine should suffice. Over 1000 packages per daily should justify looking at higher speed machines. The initial cost may be more, but labor savings and efficiency over time will pay for the machine and then some.|
Cuts of meat and packaging methods to consider:
- Large primal cuts: Require thick packaging in excess of 5 mils.
- Smaller pork and beef cuts: Overwrapping is a common packaging for smaller cuts or simple butcher paper and a label if coming from the store meat case.
- Shrimp and fish: Use over wrapping when fresh. Use vacuum packaging for longer storage.
- Poultry: Whole chickens and turkey are shrunk in using steam or water with poultry shrink bags. A lower cost alternative for short term storage can be overwrapping.
- Whole loins: Large whole loins often use thick shrink bags and smaller pre-seasoned loins are packaged using thermoforming.
- Processed meats: Processed meats use thermoforming and sometimes vacuum packaging. Ground sausage and beef use opaque food-grade poly bags that are long and narrow looking like a tube.
- Bacon: Bacon uses thermoform, vacuum packaging. If buying from the store meat case, overwrapping is used for transport from the store to home.
- Is vacuum packaging waterproof?
Vacuum packaging can be used to secure items immersed in water. If vacuum packaging any products that could be exposed to water we recommend at least a 5 mm seal thickness. A vacuum bag is made to hold a vacuum inside the bag. It creates a barrier between the products and outside atmosphere. A standard poly bag will not hold a vacuum and over time will allow seepage.
- Can vacuum packaging be be used to pack goods in transit?
Vacuum packaging is great for shipping metal products. Water and humidity can cause rust on products. Creating a barrier between the product and exterior environment will help reduce or eliminate corrosion. The gas flushed vacuum packaging prevents all corrosion by modifying the atmosphere within the package.