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New packaging boosts mushroom shelf life

ITENE says its packaging with a coating containing calcium chloride allows excess humidity to be absorbed, extending the shelf life of fresh mushrooms, Agaricus bisporus mushrooms (which includes button, portobello and champignon mushrooms) until at least 12 days during storage.

The shelf life of white button mushrooms can reach at least 12 days thanks to packaging developed by ITENE, the Valencia-based Packaging, Transport and Logistics Research Centre.

According to ITENE patent application documents recently published by WIPO, such mushrooms generally have a very short shelf life, usually just 4-7 days after harvest. They are very sensitive to humidity levels, microorganisms, and physical handling, factors which can affect their appearance and appeal to consumers. When packaged, moisture produced by the mushrooms tends to condensate inside the package and on the mushrooms.

But ITENE says a package with a particular coating containing calcium chloride allows this excess humidity to be absorbed, so water drops don’t fall on the mushrooms. Thus the shelf life of fresh mushrooms, particularly edible Agaricus spp. mushrooms, and more particularly Agaricus bisporus (which includes portobello and champignon mushrooms), “can be increased until at least 12 days during storage.” The packaging can also help boost the shelf life of other fresh vegetables and fruit.

ITENE says the packaging’s structural design can also play a role in the conservation of fresh mushrooms, fruits, and vegetables and, among other things, allows for:

  • protecting the product from possible damage during distribution;
  • protecting the top of the product, particularly of mushrooms, to avoid damage (marking) from pressure;
  • keeping the product in contact with the coating;
  • being re-closable and allowing the protection of the product after opening during its life cycle;
  • being transparent or opaque, in one or in two pieces, depending on the applications;
  • nesting of the container for storage and transport prior to packaging.

FIG. 1 shows a package for the conservation of mushrooms comprising an opaque tray 1 and a transparent lid 2 (Fig. 1 a), as well as a detailed section of the closing system by the use of four protruding buttons 3 on the lid that are inserted in the corresponding hollows 4 on the upper part of the tray (Fig. 1 b.
FIG. 2 shows the section of a package with or without lid and the distribution of the mushrooms in the package of the invention; Details of the support between the lid and the tray are shown.

Source: WIPO, patent application: (WO2016016373) PACKAGE FOR MUSHROOMS, FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Main image of Agaricus bisporus Zuchtchampignon: by böhringer friedrich [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

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The packaging of the future is being invented right now

The packaging of the future is being invented right now It is increasingly environmentally-friendly and also cheaper, as the manufacturers are innovating unceasingly to meet end-users’ demands.

When it comes to sustainable development, packaging manufacturers, particularly those signed up to the Save Food initiative, want to demonstrate that their products ensure hygienic distribution and cut food waste. Initiatives to lengthen the shelf life of fruit and vegetables are increasing.

Researchers are working on films that allow controlled gas exchanges, allowing the produce to breathe better, and can even compensate momentarily for a break in the cold chain. They are developing patches that allow precise amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide through when the temperature rises above a certain threshold.

Moisture control is also a crucial factor. As well as perforations, which are placed in an increasingly targeted fashion, new liner pads that absorb humidity and contain active compounds are being developed. Activated by moisture, these compounds are liberated into the punnet in gradual stages, keeping the product fresher, reducing odours and increasing food safety.

Antimicrobial packaging has also become cheaper since it has become possible to use nanoparticles of silver, which bring down the cost of this technique. Sustainability also involves packaging that is lighter and recyclable or compostable. Particularly in Britain, there is also a rise in heat-sealed punnets, which use less plastic than lidded ones and are also cheaper.

Another trend is the ability to print the punnets or moulded trays, giving companies a communication opportunity, enhancing the value of the product and avoiding the need to label the punnet. Lastly, packaging manufacturers continue to innovate in order to respond to new consumption trends like snacking and eating on the go.

VB

This article appeared on page 74 of the July-August 2015 edition, number 138, of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read more of that edition here: http://www.eurofresh-distribution.com/magazine/138-2015-julaug

Image of packaging blister made by bioplastics (Celluloseacetat): by Christian Gahle, nova-Institut GmbH [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons