A new spin on an established technology is being promoted by Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Company at Pack Expo. Previously supplied as a fully formed film and in pouches, NutraSave is now being offered as a resin for use in packaging applications where shelf-life extension without the use of preservatives is required. It extends life by absorbing oxygen.
Speaking from Las Vegas, marketing and sales analyst for Mitsubishi Gas Chemical in New York, US, Sean Hael, said: “NutraSave is a PP and PE masterbatch (in a polyester film lamination) and we’re working on rigid as well. It has been available as a finished film in Japan for a while but we can now supply it as a resin.
Seeking development partners to bring new applications to the retail shelves, Hael explained: “We want to see something out in the market in the next two years that we’ve never seen before. It can double the shelf-life of heat treated or liquid products that are sensitive.”
Iron-based to absorb the oxygen, the film has a greyish hue. Hael also admits that the film is unrecyclable due to the presence of iron.
“We do have non-ferrous absorbers as a sachet but not in a film form yet,” he explained. “The role of oxygen cannot be underestimated when it comes to food preservation. 48 per cent of consumers are rejecting foods with strange ingredients (preservatives), while 50 per cent are now reading labels for their contents. More than 20 per cent buy foods with health claims on the label.
“In the US, 40 per cent of food produced is wasted, which is worth $165 billion. A lot of US companies use a conservatively short shelf-life to protect against lawsuits. However, it is possible to get to 0.1 per cent of oxygen in a pack with an oxygen absorber, which will extend shelf-life. However, consumers don’t like the look of oxygen absorber sachets.
“Using absorbers in a liquid or oily product is a problem as it can leach into the product. So we layered oxygen absorbing technology into a film called NutraSave. Retort is intensive on the product, so a lot of preservatives are used. You don’t have that with NutraSave and NutraSave SiOx PET and NutraSave Al both retain higher levels of vitamin C than EVOH, SiOx PET or Al film options.”
Nitrogen flush is an option on products like chocolate bars. Although NutraSave is more expensive than cheap nitrogen flushing, Hael says that his company’s technology adds to the product with increased shelf-life and reduced shock versus retort.