The aseptic packaging is a specialized manufacturing process in which food, pharmaceutical, or other contents are sterilized separately from the packaging. The aseptic packaging uses aseptic processing which is a processing technique where commercially thermally sterilized liquid products majorly medicine and food are packaged into previously sterilized containers under the sterile conditions to produce shelf-stable products that do not require refrigeration. It involves three steps thermal sterilization of the product, sterilization of the packaging material, and conservation of sterility during packaging. Most of the aseptic packaging uses ultra-high temperature (UHT) sterilization to sterilize the food product before it is packaged. The ultra-high temperature sterilization allows faster processing and better retention of sensory and nutritional characteristics. The containers are required to sterilize for killing microorganisms present on the container during forming and transport and before filling. The aseptic packaging is used for various food products and beverages like soup, milk, puddings and many more. The aseptic packaging is even used for the pharmaceutical industry for ensuring that medications aren’t polluted with bacteria. The aseptic packaging uses a variety of materials like paper, plastic, glass, and metal. The advancing technology in the packaging industry and high utilization of packaging by different industry verticals is expected to grow the market share of the Packaging Industry.
Sterilization Agents are: –
The heat is used as the sterilant for aseptic systems as a natural extension of thermal processing. The product supply lines and fillers are commonly sterilized by ‘moist’ heat in the form of hot water or saturated steam under pressure. Systems employing moist heat are frequently sterilized at temperatures ranging from 121°C to 129°C, while 176°C to 232°C is used for sterilization by dry heat.
Hydrogen peroxide is majorly used a chemical sterilant. Other types of chemicals are used for sterilants like various acids, ethanol, ethylene oxide, and peracetic acid.
The gamma radiation has been used over the decades to decontaminate packaging materials for use in aseptic systems for packing acid and acidified food. Due to the penetrating power of gamma-radiation, packages are used in bulk amounts at the same time at commercial irradiators. The other types of radiation are not widely used in aseptic systems due to low penetration and problems associated with shadowing, limit the use of UV-C for aseptic systems packaging of low acid food.
Advantages of Aseptic Packaging: –
Increased Shelf life
The aseptic packaging helps in increasing the shelf life of food and beverage products and this too without the use of refrigeration. The increase in product lifespan helps in keeping the product fresh for a longer period and for providing safe and protective measures from the external environment. The increase in shelf life helps in giving manufacturers extra time for selling their products on the retailer’s shelves. It provides customers with more time for the consumption of food or beverage before the product expires. The increased use of aseptic packaging for increasing the shelf life is increasing the demand in the aseptic packaging market.
Reduces Shipping and Distribution Cost
The aseptic packaging helps in reducing shipping and distribution costs, as aseptic packaging uses lightweight and compact materials as compared to traditional packaging types. This helps manufacturers to save costs by reducing the shipping weight and by eliminating the need to refrigerate products especially for the products that require cooler environments during distribution. The use of unique materials in aseptic packaging can help in storing selective products at ambient temperatures. This feature of aseptic packaging helps in reducing costs.
The aseptic packaging is eco-friendly as it uses a sustainable method. The aseptic packaging uses renewable resources like paper, cartons, etc. the increasing awareness among people regarding environmental concerns like climate change and global warming is resulting in more people opting for eco-friendly products. The governments are imposing strict rules and regulations for improving the environment; this is further making manufacturers use e renewable and sustainable methods for manufacturing. The increased use of eco-friendly packaging is growing the aseptic packaging market share.
No Preservatives Required
There are no need preservatives in aseptic packaging as the sterilization process protects against bacteria. The increasing demand for packaging techniques that are capable of providing longer shelf life and quality of food, beverage, dairy products, and medicines without the need for adding preservatives is growing the demand for aseptic packaging.
Maintain Quality Standards
The aseptic packaging helps in maintaining the quality of food, beverage, and medicines. It maintains the taste, smell, and nutritional values of the food. This helps in not compromising with foods' overall quality and providing fresh food to the consumer. The food contains more nutrients due to less heat damage. No preservatives are added.
The aseptic packaging has more advantages like low packaging to product ratio. It means more of the product can be stored then the packaging material. It has high storage efficiency as brick shapes are easier to pack in bulk than cans or jars. It is convenient, portable and light to transport.
Choosing Aseptic Packaging
Choosing the aseptic package depends upon the type of aseptic packs and types of aseptic packaging material based on requirements. Types of Aseptic Pack include bags and pouches, cups and tray, bottles and jars, metal cans, plastic cans, and composite cans. The Bags and Pouchesand is used inthe three-sided sealed pouch are used for aseptic packaging of products up to particle sizes of 12ounces and bag sizes from 1-5 liters. Pillow pouches are used for milk. The bags and pouches can be used for storing vegetables and fruits. The Cups and Traysare used pre-made or formed, filled, and sealed in thermoform/fill/seal machines. They are suitable for microwave heating. Bottles and Jars are used for containing baby food, drinks, liquid, milk and many more. Nowadays the company is using returnable bottles for sustainable use. The metals cans are used for the beverage. The aseptic packaging materials should be compatible with the product intended to be packed. It is important to have the physical integrity of the package for assuming containment of the product and maintenance of sterility. The packaging material should be able to withstand sterilization and be compatible with the methods of sterilization. The packaging material should protect the product from oxygen and retain the aroma of the product.