The difference between vacuum packaging and shrink packaging
Vacuum packing or vacuum packaging is a form of modified atmosphere packaging found around the world. Vacuum packing removes atmospheric oxygen from the primary package products are enclosed in. Oxygen is the primary source of product degradation. The removal of oxygen can often extensively help extend product life. Consumable and non-consumable products are protected by vacuum packing.
The basic form of vacuum packing removes oxygen from a vacuum bag and seals off the bag once a vacuum cycle is complete. There are a variety of new processes that can be involved when vacuum packaging, some are covered below.
The History of Vacuum Packing
Though early experiments of modified atmosphere packaging have been traced back to the early 19th century, most accounts of vacuum packaging are not acknowledged until after World War II. In France before WW II, the air was removed from rubber latex bags, and the bags were sealed. This concept proved to increase the shelf life of frozen products. After WW II plastics became more popular and commercialized, this opened the door for vacuum packaging applications.
The Cryovac vacuum packaging process created in the 50s to package whole turkeys was the first commercial use of vacuum packaging perishable items. Since the introduction of industrial vacuum packaging, many companies and individuals have contributed new methods, materials, and machines that have improved the quality of human life.
By the 70s, the idea of introducing an inert gas into vacuum packaging helped to increase the shelf life of perishable products dramatically. Since then, the advancements in vacuum packing efficiency and increased shelf life have made incredible advancements.
Difference between Shrink Wrapping and Vacuum Packing
Though often confused, shrink packaging and vacuum packing are very different. Both forms of packaging appear to remove air from product packaging but in very different ways.
Shrink packaging, like vacuum packing, uses a sealing bar and film to package a variety of products. Products are enclosed in film, and heat is applied to the shrink film to form fit the film to the product. Air escapes the shrink wrapped package through tiny vent holes along the film surface. These vent holes prevent a shrink packaged product from being wholly sealed from exterior elements.
Vacuum packing removes oxygen from the primary packaging using suction. Once oxygen is removed from the package, the package is completely sealed off from exterior elements. This modifies the atmosphere within the package to extend the life of packaged products.
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