Packaging

    Packaging

    Barley should be stored in food-grade packaging, that is moisture-proof, like Mylar® bags, polyethylene bags, plastic buckets, or No. 10 cans.

    Packaging for brown rice varies, depending on the vendor. Grocery stores will typically carry the rice pre-packaged in plastic bags in weights up to 4 or 5 pounds. Many food storage suppliers of rice (not grocery stores) package rice in cans or well-sealed pouches, both of varying sizes. For long-term storage it is important that the packaging must prevent moisture and rodent/insect damage. This means that many consumers may need to transfer the brown rice into different containers for storage.

    Store rice in a tightly sealed container. Food safe plastic (PETE) containers, glass jars, No. 10 cans (commercial size) lined with a food-grade enamel lining and Mylar®-type bags work best for long-term storage. Use food-safe oxygen absorbers available from food storage supply stores to preserve rice quality and protect from insect infestation. A No. 10 can will hold about 5.7 lbs (2.6 kgs) of polished or brown rice. One recommendation used by many, when purchasing rice in smaller quantities, is to place the bags of rice in the freezer for 3 days. This will kill any insect (or insect larvae) that might be present.

    Foods are commercially canned in glass jars with lids, metal cans, or special metal Mylar®®-type pouches. All of these materials are suitable for food storage. Home canners should only can in Mason-style canning jars with two-piece metal lids as recommended by the USDA Complete Guide to Canning. Home canning in metal cans or metal Mylar®®-type pouches requires special knowledge and equipment. Improper processing of home canned foods could lead to Clostridium botulinum food poisoning.

    Like most stored foods, beans are best stored in the absence of oxygen and light. Oxygen can lead to rancidity of bean oils and light will quickly fade bean color. The packaging choices are No. 10 cans or Mylar®-type bags. Canning jars are suitable for smaller quantities provided the jars are stored in a dark place. Oxygen absorbers should be used to remove oxygen from the packages to extend shelf life and minimize off fl avors.

    Dried egg products should be in a container that has a tight, unopened seal. Most importantly, the packaging must prevent moisture and rodent/insect damage. Many suppliers package dried eggs in cans or well-sealed pouches, both of varying sizes. It is important to remember that once the packaging has been opened, its shelf life decreases. Many retailers offer large cans that can be bought at bulk pricing. These may save money, but it is best not to purchase a can so large that it cannot be consumed within a reasonable amount of time once opened.

    Most dried fruit comes in packages that are re-sealable or in single serving boxes. The most common are apples, dried apricots, raisins, craisins, and prunes. When possible, it is best to keep the fruit in the original package. If that becomes a problem, transferring the fruit to another airtight container is perfectly acceptable. Recent studies at Brigham Young University indicated a wide variation in head space oxygen levels and can seam quality of dehydrated apple slices packaged for long-term storage and available for sale at the retail level. Manufacturers need to ensure proper packaging to optimize product quality during extended storage (Oesterle, Ogden & Pike, 2003).

    Many different types of packaging are used for dried meats, but all must be air-tight and moisture proof. This may include plastic laminated foil pouches, metal and plastic cans/canisters, or metal and fiber drums for bulk packaging. Some freeze-dried food is vacuum packed, and the air is evacuated from the container before sealing. Other food has an inert gas like nitrogen injected into the container before sealing to displace the oxygen in the air and prevent oxidation or spoiling (Brennan, n.d.). Once cans or packages are opened, store the food not consumed in moisture proof, airtight containers.

    Dried milk must be stored free of moisture, light, and oxygen. Mylar®-type bags and No. 10 cans make good containers for large quantities. Canning jars are suitable for smaller quantities provided light is prevented from reaching the dried milk. Other plastic containers are less suitable, e.g., foodgrade buckets. Oxygen absorbers should be used to remove oxygen from containers to extend shelf life and minimize off flavors. A USU study (Driscoll, Brennand, Hendricks, 1985) concluded that after 4 years, NFDM samples stored in plastic bags (not Mylar®-type) were statistically less acceptable than samples stored in cans. The form of milk (instant or regular) did not affect the length of time NFDM could be stored. Unacceptability of samples in the study was due to an oxidized/stale flavor.

    Another study conducted at BYU also determined that the comparison of instant and regular NFDM showed no significant differences in storage, indicating both types were suitable for storage. Though there is some decline in quality and nutrition over time, it appears possible to retain palatability and nutritional value in NFDM during long-term storage by using adequate packaging and storage conditions. Manufacturers need to ensure proper packaging of their products to optimize shelf life. (Lloyd, 2003)

    Dried foods should be sealed in airtight packages or containers to prevent them from picking up moisture from the air, thus causing them to mold or spoil. There are several options manufacturers use to package the dried food: plastic laminated foil pouches (like Mylar®™), metal and plastic cans, or heavy plastic bags. Most of these are then vacuumed packed to remove as much air as possible. Many may also have oxygen absorber packets added. Some may have a nitrogen gas pumped into the container to replace the oxygen and prevent oxidation and spoilage. Home dried foods are susceptible to insect contamination and moisture absorption and must be properly packaged and stored immediately.

    First, cool and condition completely. Conditioning is an important safety measure because packaging warm food causes sweating, which could provide enough moisture for mold to grow. Pack foods into clean, dry, insect-proof containers as tightly as possible without crushing (Brennand, 1994). If possible, pack the foods in amounts that can be used after opening the package without requiring further repackaging and storage. Glass jars (preferably dark colored), metal cans, or boxes with tightly fitted lids or moisture and vapor-resistant freezer cartons make good containers for storing dried foods. Heavy-duty plastic bags are acceptable but are not insect and rodent-proof (Schmutz and Hoyle, 1999).

    To protect from insects and re-absorption of moisture, seal lids onto containers. Wrap the edge where the lid meets the container with a plasticized, pressure-sensitive tape or a clean, 1-inch cloth strip dipped in melted paraffin. Bags may be heat-sealed or closed with twist ties, string or rubber bands. Label containers with the name of the product, date, and method of pretreatment and drying (Kendall et al., 2012). Oxygen absorbers can also be used to remove oxygen from the packages to extend shelf life and minimize off-flavors.

    Solid fats are often sold in cans or plastic containers looking like cans. Oils are most often sold in plastic bottles. Oils are rarely sold in glass containers. Metal cans are the most resistant to long-term oxygen transfer (transmission of oxygen through the material over time). Plastics are not that resistant to oxygen transfer and will allow significant oxygen levels into the container in 1 to 2 years.

    Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) and foil laminate pouches are exceptional food containers. The polyethylene (PET) layer is food-grade plastic with no known toxicities and makes up the innermost layer that touches foods. The foil layer is in the middle and dramatically reduces the transmission of oxygen, CO2, and moisture through the film. The outer layer is polyester, a tough but non-food grade plastic (ILSI, 2000). One trade name is Mylar® and is often used as a generic name. Be aware that even though there is a metallic layer in the bag, rodents can easily chew into it.

    As soon as the MRE package is opened, it is vulnerable to bacterial growth. Military MRE packaging requirements are strict. MREs must be able to withstand a parachute drop from 1,250 feet and non-parachute drops of almost 100 feet.

    Rolled oats (both regular and quick cooking) and steel cut oats are available in retail stores in sealed cans with oxygen removed. Oat groats and all other forms of oats may also come packaged in sturdy cardboard canisters, plastic bags, and heavy burlap or brown paper bags. While these packages are fine for transporting, they are not intended to be sufficient protection from moisture, rodents, or other elements for long-term storage.

    The majority of the active components of spices and herbs are plant oils. And as oils, they can oxidize to lose flavor and color. Thus, spices and herbs should be stored in air tight containers, such as jars or Mylar®™-type foil bags. Often the entire spice container can be sealed in jars or foil lined bags. Oxygen absorbers should be used to remove oxygen and prevent oxidation.

    Storage containers should be opaque, airtight, and moisture/ odor proof. The typical retail paper package for crystal sugars is not suitable for long-term storage. Polyethylene bags, Mylar®-type bags, food-grade plastic buckets, glass canning jars, and No. 10 cans are all suitable for dry sugar storage. Glass canning jars and No. 10 cans work best for liquid syrups and honey. However, honey is acidic and can acquire a metallic taste from the metal can aft er many years of storage.

    The main metal in food cans is tin. Tin, when ingested in enough quantities, can cause gastric irritation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea. However, these symptoms should not prevent someone from using metallic tasting sugars during emergency situations. However, if sugar acquires a metallic flavor during storage, it should be discarded and replaced (European Commission Health & Consumer Protection Directorate-General, 2001).

    Storage containers should be opaque, airtight, and moisture/odor proof. Store vitamins in their original packaging, unless that packaging looks insufficient to preclude air and moisture. It would be acceptable to overpackage vitamins in a Mylar® type bag for added protection from the elements.

    Store wheat in moisture-proof, food-grade packaging, such as Mylar® type bags, polyethylene bags, plastic buckets, or No. 10 cans. Be aware that rodents can chew through plastic bags. Wheat stored in ~10 pound bags is easy to manipulate, facilitates rotation, allows easy inspection of the grain, and compartmentalizes the grain so contamination of one lot does not contaminate large quantities of stored grain. Several bags can be placed inside a 5-gallon plastic bucket. It is not necessary to store wheat in the absence of oxygen unless insects are present.

    Packaging for white rice varies, depending on the vendor. Grocery stores will typically carry the rice in plastic bags in weights up to 4 or 5 pounds. Many food storage suppliers (not grocery stores) package rice in cans or well-sealed pouches, both of varying sizes. Big box, or “warehouse” type stores, typically carry rice in 25-50 lbs paper or mesh bags.

    For long-term storage, it is important that the packaging prevent moisture and rodent/insect damage. Th is means that many consumers may need to transfer the white rice they purchase into diff erent containers for storage. Store rice in a tightly sealed container. Food safe plastic (PETE) containers, glass jars, No. 10 cans (commercial size) lined with a food-grade enamel lining and Mylar®-type bags work best for long-term storage. Use food-safe oxygen absorbers available from food storage supply stores to preserve rice quality and protect from insect infestation. No. 10 cans will hold about 5.7 lbs (2.6 kgs) of polished rice.

    One recommendation, used by many when purchasing rice in smaller quantities, is to place the bags of rice in the freezer for three days. This will kill any insect (or insect larvae) that might be present. Once removed from the freezer allow the rice to come to room temperature before placing in an airtight container.