Design Of Packaging Line In Focus To Meat Biology Essay

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Packaging is the art, science and technology in preparing goods for sale in a cost effective manner. The packaging for the food materials includes preserving the product, containing the product, and identifying the product i.e. its expiry dates etc. The packaging design line is undertaken in stages which further involve steps in each case. Stages include description of the product and its characteristics to select the proper machinery for the process involved; Next stage includes the complete material and dimensional specification for each of the packaging component such as bottles, caps, closures, labels, seals, wraps, cartons etc. In the next stage the list of all the packaging operations manual, semi-automatic or automatic are listed out. Further, the packaging machines involved in the process is given including its characteristics such as speed, variation, and the utilities are required. Finally, analyzing the relative merits of the machine based on speed, per unit cost and the line layout is put together with the required stations to the equipment using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology.

General statement of the problem

In order to achieve the ultimate goal of packaging product perfectly with time, equipment engineers, packaging technologies, and quality teams must plan and work through a validation program together in order to create a robust operation. The efficient packaging production lines need consistent materials and storage and handling of components is vital. Fiber based materials such as cartons, and labels on it can be affected by the changes in temperature and relative humidity.

This paper deals with the major influencers that will drive the change in the meat packaging with RFID technology. In recent years the focus towards the meat packaging has been increased from the 49% to 60%. Packaging innovation has been developed to meet these needs to the current situations which include the increase of the hand-held soups, self heating cans and cartons which replaced the traditional steel. Material costs are also driving the need for packaging innovations. Polyethylene costs were high during the period of petroleum products rise i.e. during the second half of 2003. The labor costs and availability will create a demand for the packaging innovations. Recent approvals from the regulatory for the use of carbon monoxide in fresh meat packaging in United States will enable greater usage of low oxygen packaging products to provide the greater acceptance from the costumers.

Using the RFID monitoring system, once some goods are found to be at risk, the operator can make decisions to prevent damage. For instance, if a shipper finds his/her goods are heading towards a traffic jam, and the goods will possibly go bad because of the delay, he/she may quickly change the routing so as to avoid the traffic jam. Additionally, if the owner finds his goods have lost all their value, the owner can instruct the driver to dump the goods and thus save the rest of the transportation fee. This system will help users to make timely decisions to reduce the loss in value of perishable products that are being transported. It can give users a warning as soon as the unexpected happens, such as accidents, and gives some helpful decision suggestions, from its decision rule base, for coping with the unexpected event. Thus, by using this system, the loss incurred by the logistics companies due to perishable products going rotten during transportation, can be reduced.

Statement of the hypotheses

The hypothesis of study is developing various packaging machineries and designs the packaging line for the meat industry. The design of the packaging line is modified with RFID technology to eliminate the cost and change the current phase of meat industry.

The delimitations

Possibility of variations of speeds in the packaging line.

Economical usage of the machinery from source to destination.

The Limitations

Skilled people required for the machinery usage.

Machinery stations are well guided by additional machines to protect them as they are expensive.

Precautions are required while operating and functioning of the machinery.

Definition of terms

Radio frequency identification (RFID): Technology that uses communication via electromagnetic waves to exchange the data between terminal and electronic tag attached to the object for the purpose of identification and tracking.

Assumptions

1. Most operations considering the direction of flow have elements of no control (Freedom in two directions), partial control (Freedom in only one direction) and full control (No Freedom). Never have "no control" in the center of an automated mechanism. Eliminate even partial control for high-speed machines.

2. Eliminate or minimize input and package manipulations.

3. Eliminate or minimize change relating to displacement, velocity, acceleration and/or inertia in direction and magnitude.

4. Always interface using complete interlocking or hand shaking pass off within a defined boundary, not at a point or area-of-float (no control). The interface position tolerance must be smaller than the operational functional window.

5. If manipulations and/or handoffs are required because of overall design constraints, always match motions (intermittent to intermittent, continuous to continuous).

6. For cycles above 60 per minute, continuous is superior to intermittent.

7. Keep it simple, meaning the fewer moving parts the better. Ideal high technology means one moving part.

8. Design for robustness, which means it takes a beating but keeps on producing quality products.

9. Design for flexibility, which means it can take a wider range of product sizes or material than is needed at the present time.

10. Design for fault tolerance, which means it is forgiving or auto-adjusts for inputs inside or even outside of their specification range, but still can produce a quality product.

11. Never assume an operator will control the proper logical sequence of events for optimum performance or corrective action.

12. Good enough is in reality not good enough.

Profits of successful consumer products companies are heavily influenced by the performance of their packaging lines. One common cause of low performance is a less than optimum choice of concept, which will dramatically effect integration. Bad integration is the result of the wrong concept and/or improper execution.

Chapter 2: A Review of Literature

Overview

Due to increased demands for greater stringency in relation to hygiene and safety issues associated with fresh and processed meat products, coupled with ever-increasing demands by retailers for cost-effective extensions to product shelf-lives and the requirement to meet consumer expectations in relation to convenience and quality (increased product range, easy use and minimum product preparation, provision of more product information and packaging impact on the environment), the food packaging industry has rapidly developed to meet and satisfy expectations. In fact, so rapid has this development been that food companies, and more specifically meat processors, struggle to keep pace with developments. Yet despite major developments in packaging materials and systems, the fundamental principles of packaging meat products remain the same.

Packaging fresh meat is carried out to avoid contamination, delay spoilage, permit some enzymatic activity to improve tenderness, reduce weight loss, and where applicable, to ensure an oxymyoglobin or cherry-red colour in red meats at retail or customer level (Brody, 1997). When considering processed meat products, factors such as dehydration, lipid oxidation, discoloration and loss of aroma must be taken into account (Mondry, 1996). Many meat packaging systems currently exist, each with different attributes and applications. These systems range from overwrap packaging for short-term chilled storage and/or retail display, to a diversity of specified modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) systems for longer-term chilled storage and/or display, to vacuum packaging, bulk-gas flushing or MAP systems using 100% carbon dioxide for long-term chilled storage. Due to the diversity of product characteristics and basic meat packaging demands and applications, any packaging technologies offering to deliver more product and quality control in an economic and diverse manner would be favourably welcomed. Two such packaging approaches currently exist and can be divided into two distinct categories; active packaging technologies and intelligent packaging technologies.

Active packaging refers to the incorporation of certain additives into packaging systems (whether loose within the pack, attached to the inside of packaging materials or incorporated within the packaging materials themselves) with the aim of maintaining or extending product quality and shelf-life. Packaging may be termed active when it performs some desired role in food preservation other than providing an inert barrier to external conditions (Huton, 2003). Active packaging has been defined as packaging, which 'changes the condition of the packed food to extend shelf-life or to improve safety or sensory properties, while maintaining the quality of packaged food (Ahvenainen, 2003). The development of a whole range of active packaging systems, some of which may have applications in both new and existing food products, is fairly new. Active packaging includes additives or 'freshness enhancers' that can participate in a host of packaging applications and by so doing, enhance the preservation function of the primary packaging system.

Table 1: Examples of active packaging applications for use within the food industry

Absorbing/scavenging properties

Oxygen, carbon dioxide, moisture, ethylene, flavours, taints, UV light

Releasing/emitting properties

Ethanol, carbon dioxide, antioxidants, preservatives, sulphur dioxide, flavours, pesticides

Removing properties

Catalysing food component removal: lactose, cholesterol

Temperature control

Insulating materials, self-heating and self-cooling packaging, microwave susceptors and modifiers, temperature-sensitive packaging

Microbial and quality control

UV and surface-treated packaging materials

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Intelligent packaging (also more loosely described as smart packaging) is packaging that in some way senses some properties of the food it encloses or the environment in which it is kept and which is able to inform the manufacturer, retailer and consumer of the state of these properties. Although distinctly different from the concept of active packaging, features of intelligent packaging can be used to check the effectiveness and integrity of active packaging systems (Huton, 2003). Intelligent packaging has been defined as packaging 'systems which monitor the condition of packaged foods to give information about the quality of the packaged food during transport and storage (Ahvenainen, 2003). Smart packaging devices, which may be an integral component or inherent property of a foodstuff's packaging, can be used to monitor a plethora of food pack attributes.

Table 2: Examples of intelligent packaging applications for use within the food industry

Tamper evidence and pack integrity

Breach of pack containment

Indicators of product safety/quality

Time-temperature indicators (TTI's), gas sensing devices, microbial growth, pathogen detection

Traceability/anti-theft devices

Radio frequency identification (RFID) Labels, tags, chips

Product authenticity

Holographic images, logos, hidden design print elements, RFID

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From the outline descriptions of the numerous active and intelligent packaging technologies currently in existence, only a limited number are currently relevant to meat and meat product packaging applications. However, research developments in the areas of active packaging and intelligent packaging technologies are progressing rapidly and potential applications are likely.

Using RFID and sensor technologies, (Jedermann) have developed a real-time autonomous sensor system to monitor products when they are transported. The backend system can access the on-the-road sensors of this system. The system also separates the sensors and the RFID tags. Therefore the system could be easily expanded to handle special sensor requirements. The use of RFID could also realize task achievement data and information on the products automatically when the products are loaded or unloaded .The activity has a product state tracking system architecture which is able to track products even when they are in a box or a container.

Summary of the state of art

The review of literature indicates that the significant problems associated with the meat packaging can be resolved. This evolution is largely being driven by the need for conversion to centrally packaged meats (an economic influencer) and the need for increased convenience on the part of the consumer.

Chapter 3: Method of investigation

Overview

A study was conducted to audit and report the trends in fresh meat packaging at the retail level (Kelly, December 2004). This study gives a detailed account of the type of packaging formats being used and the relative degree of their use, and to compare these results to a similar study conducted in previous years. In 2002, 69% of the linear footage of the self-service meat case was occupied by fresh meat and poultry. This figure declined to 63% in 2004, reflecting a growing conversion of meat items to products with greater consumer convenience, such as fully cooked entrees and marinated meats, as well as hams and sausages. Another key finding in this study is the proportion of packages that are case ready, or defined as products that were not repackaged in the backroom of the store. In 2004, 60% of the packages audited were case ready, which had increased from 49% in 2002. These data reflect an audit of packages, and does not directly measure actual volume of meat converted to case ready. However, these data are accurately reflective of the growth of case ready in the US.

It is important to note the relative level of case-ready penetration by product species. (Kelly, December 2004). Chicken and turkey have continued to increase in case ready penetration, to the point that virtually all (95%) of the packages audited in 2004 were case ready. On the other extreme, while beef case-ready penetration continues to grow, it is offered in a case-ready format in only 23% of the packages audited. Ground beef was offered in a case-ready format in 66% of the packages audited, which is up from 56% in 2002. Ground beef has typically led the movement amongst red meat categories in the US. As ground beef inherently has a higher food safety concern than intact muscle cuts, it is often easier to justify movement to case ready than some of the other products.

The types of packages were also reviewed in this study (Kelly, December 2004) .As the amount of case-ready packages grew, the traditional Styrofoam tray with polyvinyl chloride wrap declined in package occurrence from 51% in 2002 to 47% in 2004. This format is offered in both case ready as well as in-store preparation. However, most of the other package formats are offered almost exclusively in centralized packaging operations. Modified atmosphere packages increased by 4% over the last two years (9% in 2002 to 13% in 2004), and vacuum packages were up 3% (10% in 2002 to 13% in 2004).

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is being widely promoted as the next great solution for the retail food industry. Much of this hype is the result of the largest mass retailer requiring RFID tagged product from their largest suppliers. The conclusion being if the largest mass retailer demands this technology it must be good for food retailers. RFID is pure and simply a data or information collection approach. The promise is it collects data for computers faster, easier and with improved accuracy. RFID has wide retailer application possibilities including receiving, inventory control, manifesting, shrink reduction, product rotation and as a replacement for Electronic Article Security (EAS). Implementing RFID requires significant capital investment in hardware (readers, antenna, etc.) and software. Additionally significant re-engineering of methods and procedures coupled with associate education are required.

Material costs

Surging petroleum prices is not a new phenomenon to the manufacturing industry. However, one has to question if a fundamental shift in the demand for petroleum has occurred. This economic shift will influence the market in a number of ways, inclusive of the price of packaging materials. (DeMarrais, 2004), reported that Sealed Air Corporation raised prices by 6-8% in the last year on materials made from plastic resins. This article also reported that polyethylene costs increased 20% during the second half of 2003.

Traditionally, it has been very difficult for alternative materials, such as biomaterials, to make inroads to the petroleum-based packaging materials market. This difficulty is due to limited functionality in many cases, but also due to the fact that the economics of biomaterials could never compete with petroleum-based materials. However, as previously stated, if $50/barrel crude oil prices are now the rule rather than the exception, alternatives to petroleum-based materials will likely evolve and become more economically viable.

Availability of trained labor for meat merchandising

Much has been written and reported as to the growth of centralized fresh meat packaging in the United States. One of the key influencers of this growth is the reduction in skilled labor required at retail level for meat fabrication. The programs of apprentice butchers of the past have been disbanded. Very few technical schools are available that teach basic meat processing and fabrication skills. As retails face this reality, the need for centralized packaging of fresh meat will continue to evolve. Additionally, as the hours of retail operation evolve to more formats with 24 h of operation, the needs for pre-packaged fresh meat will continue to evolve.

This review is not going to extensively discuss traditional formats of case ready packaging, as this topic has been extensively reviewed in the past. The discussion in this area is going to focus on the evolution and technologies that might enable pre-packaged fresh meat in the United States to grow at a faster pace than has been recorded in the last 4-5 years.

Examples of technology innovations industry to respond

Material innovations

A breakthrough in food packaging occurred in 2004 with the introduction of Biota (Biota Brands of America, Telluride, CO) bottled water in commercially compostable material (Lingle, 2005).This material is Polylactide, is a renewable material made from corn and marketed under the trade name NatureWorks PLA (Cargill Dow, Minnetonka, MN).

While the uses of PLA are limited, this is a critical step in the evolution to develop alternatives to petroleum based packaging materials (Lingle, 2005) noted that the cost of this material for beverage containers is now very comparable to conventional plastic resin materials. Additionally, the material could be run on conventional packaging machines at lower temperatures than traditional polyethylene materials.

Low-oxygen fresh meat packaging

In the aforementioned review of fresh meat packaging trends in the US, it was noted that there continues to be a greater movement of fresh meat in a case ready format. The basic designs of case ready red meat have not evolved significantly over the last 5-10 years. The majority of products have been and continues to be offered in a high oxygen environment (approximately 80% oxygen) in order to maintain bloom, with at least 20% carbon dioxide to prevent microbial growth. Whether these gasses were placed in the primary package or in a master bag surrounding the primary package, the basic technology has been unchanged for a number of years. This technology has been successful for a number of larger retailers, as the shelf life provided by this package has been sufficient in a controlled distribution system.

Low oxygen packaging systems have been readily available for usage in the US, but not as widely implemented as the high oxygen counterparts. Vacuum packaging continues to be in many cases, the most cost effective packaging strategy. A recent innovation in vacuum packaging has been the evolution of shrinkable films in use with horizontal form-fill-seal machinery (Lipsky, 2004)Salvage and Lipsky, 2004 B. Salvage and J. Lipsky, Focus on packaging and process, The National Provisioner (2004), pp. 64-7This offering addresses one of the major drawbacks of form-fill-seal packages for fresh meat, that being the excessive film and wrinkles often noted in these packages. This technology will continue to evolve as it offers many advantages to traditional form-fill-seal operations as well as to vacuum bag applications.

(Merriman Delduca, 2003) developed another low-oxygen packaging alternative to high oxygen. In this system, a small amount of carbon monoxide (CO < 0.4%) was used in a secondary package surrounding the primary package, which was covered with traditional non-barrier PVC wrap. While the use of carbon monoxide in meat packaging is hardly new, this technology was novel as it was the first to be incorporated into a secondary packaging system. This was a critical element that allowed this package to gain FDA acceptance for use in 2002.

The use of carbon monoxide in the primary package for fresh meat had only been practiced in Norway since 1985 .Concern has been expressed in the US in the past that such a system would mask spoilage that could occur in fresh meat products. In 2004, this assumption was challenged in the US. A finding was issued that low levels of CO did not mask spoilage that could occur in a package of fresh meat. Indicators of spoilage are color, offensive odors and offensive flavors. This FDA decision noted that while color did not degrade in a package containing CO, offensive odors could still form in the presence of CO. This is supported by the findings of researchers that have found that low levels of CO are not inhibitory to the growth of spoilage organisms (Sorheim et al.)

The use of CO in the primary package of fresh meat in the US is a major breakthrough. This will allow for the wider distribution of case ready products and adequate shelf life needed to achieve distribution of these products. Additionally, low oxygen packaging benefits (reduced flavor degradation due to oxidative rancidity) is a major advantage that will improve the consumers eating experience. This evolution will enable the US meat industry to meet the needs of a larger group of retailers, in a packaging format that is less packaging and labor intense. As with vacuum packaging and other low oxygen formats, hygiene and temperature control will be critical to presenting a product to the consumer that is not spoiled. However, by using CO for its color stabilization properties, we can achieve an acceptable appearance and flavor for the consumer with optimal distribution life for the retailer.

Moisture control

The main purpose of liquid water control is to lower the water activity of the product, thereby suppressing microbial growth .Temperature cycling of high water activity foods has led to the use of plastics with an anti-fog additive that lowers the interfacial tension between the condensate and the film. This contributes to the transparency of the film and enables the customer to clearly see the packaged food although it does not affect the amount of liquid water present inside the package. Several companies manufacture drip absorbent sheets or pads such as Cryovac, Dri-Loc, (Sealed Air Corporation, USA), Thermarite or Peaksorb (Australia), Toppan (Japan) and Fresh-R-Pax (Maxwell Chase Technologies, LLC, USA) for liquid control in high water activity foods such as meat and poultry. These systems consist of a super absorbent polymer located between two layers of a micro-porous or non-woven polymer. Such sheets are used as drip-absorbing pads placed under whole chickens or chicken cuts.

Antimicrobial packaging

Microbial contamination and subsequent growth reduces the shelf life of foods and increases the risk of food borne illness. Traditional methods of preserving foods from the effect of microbial growth include thermal processing, drying, freezing, refrigeration, irradiation, MAP and addition of antimicrobial agents or salts. However, some of these techniques cannot be applied to food products such as fresh meats (Quintavalla, 2002). Antimicrobial packaging is a promising form of active packaging especially for meat products. Since microbial contamination of meat products occurs primarily at the surface, due to post-processing handling, attempts have been made to improve safety and to delay spoilage by the use of antibacterial sprays or dips. Limitations of such antibacterials include neutralisation of compounds on contact with the meat surface or diffusion of compounds from the surface into the meat mass. Incorporation of bactericidal agents into meat formulations may result in partial inactivation of the active compounds by meat constituents and therefore exert a limited effect on surface micro flora (Quintavalla, 2002) Antimicrobial food packaging materials have to extend the lag phase and reduce the growth phase of microorganisms in order to extend shelf life and to maintain product quality and safety. Comprehensive reviews on antimicrobial food packaging have been published and, to confer antimicrobial activity, antimicrobial agents may be coated, incorporated, immobilised, or surface modified onto package materials. A comprehensive list of antimicrobial agents for use in antimicrobial films, containers and utensils is presented in a review. The classes of antimicrobials listed range from acid anhydride, alcohol, bacteriocins, chelators, enzymes, organic acids and polysaccharides. Examples of commercial antimicrobial materials in the form of concentrates (e.g. AgION™, AgION Technologies LLC, USA) extracts (Nisaplin® (Nisin), Integrated Ingredients, USA) and films (Microgard™ Rhone-Poulenc, USA) were also presented. Antimicrobial packages have had relatively few commercial successes except in Japan where Ag-substituted zeolite is the most common antimicrobial agent incorporated into plastics. Ag-ions inhibit a range of metabolic enzymes and have strong antimicrobial activity. Antimicrobial films can be classified into two types: those that contain an antimicrobial agent which migrates to the surface of the food and, those which are effective against surface growth of microorganisms without migration.

Coating of films with antimicrobial agents

Coating of films with antimicrobial agents can result in effective antimicrobial activity. A study to evaluate the potential use of packaging materials as delivery vehicles for carrying and transferring nisin-containing formulations onto the surfaces of fresh poultry products was carried out. The efficacy of nisin coated (100 μg/ml) polymeric films of varying hydrophobicities (polyvinyl chloride (PVC), linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) and nylon) in inhibiting Salmonella typhimurium on fresh broiler drumstick skin was evaluated. It was concluded that packaging films coated with nisin were effective in reducing S. typhimurium on the surface of fresh broiler skin and drumsticks.

Incorporation of antimicrobial agents

The direct incorporation of antimicrobial additives in packaging films is a convenient means by which antimicrobial activity can be achieved. Antimicrobial films were prepared by incorporating acetic or propionic acid into a chitosan matrix, with or without addition of lauric acid or cinnamaldehyde, and were applied onto bologna, regular cooked ham or pastrami. During the storage period, packages were opened and the amounts of antimicrobial agents remaining in the chitosan matrix were measured. Propionic acid was released from the matrix must faster than acetic acid. Addition of lauric acid, but not cinnamaldehyde, to the chitosan matrix reduced the release of acetic acid and the release was more limited onto bologna than onto ham or pastrami. Lactic acid bacteria were unaffected by the antimicrobial films studied whereas growth of Enterobacteriaceae and Serratia liquefaciens (surface-inoculated onto the meat products) was delayed or completely inhibited as a result of film application. The strongest inhibition was observed on drier surfaces (bologna), onto which, acid release was slower, and with films containing cinnamaldehyde, as a result of its greater antimicrobial activity under these conditions and reported that a 1.0% triclosan film had a strong antimicrobial effect in vitro simulated vacuum packaged conditions against the psychrotropic food pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. However, the triclosan film did not effectively reduce spoilage bacteria and growth of L. monocytogenes on refrigerated vacuum packaged chicken breasts stored at 7 °C.

The effect of grapefruit seed extract (GFSE), a natural antimicrobial agent, incorporated (0.5% or 1% concentration) by co-extrusion or a solution-coating process in multilayered polyethylene (PE) films, on the microbial status and quality (colour (L, a, b), TBARS and pH) of fresh minced beef. The antimicrobial activity of the fabricated multilayer films was also evaluated using an agar plate diffusion method. It was reported that coating the PE film with GFSE with the aid of a polyamide binder resulted in greater antimicrobial activity compared to GFSE incorporation by co-extrusion. Using the agar diffusion test, the co-extruded film with 1% w/w GFSE showed antimicrobial activity against Metaphycus flavus only, whereas a film coated with 1% GFSE showed activity against several microorganisms such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Bacillus subtilis. Both types of GFSE-incorporated multilayer PE films reduced the growth of aerobic and coliform bacteria in minced beef wrapped with film and stored for up to 18 days at 3 °C, relative to controls. The film coated with a higher concentration (1%) of GFSE had a more pronounced effect in inhibiting bacterial growth compared to the other films tested. GFSE-coated films were better than co-extruded films in preserving the chemical quality (TBARS) of packaged beef. Beef colour was unaffected by packaging treatment. The level of GFSE employed (0.5% and 1%) did not differ significantly in terms of film efficacy for preservation of beef quality.

There is a growing interest in edible coatings due to factors such as environmental concerns, the need for new storage techniques and opportunities for creating new markets for underutilized agricultural commodities with film forming properties (Quintavalla, 2002). Edible coatings and films prepared from polysaccharides, proteins and lipids have a variety of advantages such as biodegradability, edibility, biocompatibility, aesthetic appearance and barrier properties against oxygen and physical stress.

Edible coatings have the advantages of:

• Help alleviate the problem of moisture loss during storage of fresh or frozen meats.

• Hold juices of fresh meat and poultry cuts when packed in retail plastic trays.

• Reduce the rate of rancidity caused by lipid oxidation and myoglobin oxidation.

• Reduce the load of spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms on the surface of coated meats.

• Restrict volatile flavour loss and foreign odour pick up.

As an application of active packaging, edible coatings carrying antioxidants or antimicrobials can be used for the direct treatment of meat surfaces. In the case of edible films and coatings, selection of the incorporated active ingredient is limited to edible compounds therefore edibility and safety is important. Experiments demonstrated that alginate coatings containing organic acids were marginally effective on beef carcasses, reducing levels of L. monocytogenes, S. typhimurium and E. coli 0157:H7 by 1.80, 2.11 and 0.74 log cycles, respectively. Complete inhibition of L. monocytogenes on ham, turkey breast and beef was achieved using pediocin or nisin fixed on a cellulose casing. The package is a film, such as a polymer film or a regenerated cellulose film, containing heat resistant Pediococcus-derived bacteriocins in synergistic combination with a chelating agent to inhibit or kill L. monocytogenes on contact with food.

Immobilisation

Some antimicrobial packaging systems utilise covalently immobilised antimicrobial substances which suppress microbial growth. Studies investigated the immobilization of bacteriocins nisin and lacticin 3147 to packaging materials. The plastic film (PE/polyamide (70:30) formed a stable bond with nisin, in contrast to lacticin 3147, and maintained activity for a 3 month period both at room temperature and under refrigerated storage conditions. The antimicrobial packaging reduced the population of lactic acid bacteria in ham stored in MAP (60% N2:40% CO2) thereby extending product shelf life. Nisin-adsorbed bioactive inserts reduced the level of L. innocua and S. aureus in hams.

Naturally derived antimicrobial agents

The use of naturally derived antimicrobial agents is important as they represent a lower perceived risk to the consumer, studied the combined effect of volatiles of oregano essential oil and modified atmosphere conditions (40% CO2:30% O2:30% N2, 100% CO2, 80% CO2, vacuum packaged and aerobic storage) on the sensory, microbiological and physiochemical attributes of fresh beef stored at 5 and 15 °C. Filter paper containing absorbed essential oil was placed in the packages but not in direct contact with the beef samples. The shelf life of beef samples followed the order: aerobic storage < vacuum packaged < 40% CO2:30% O2:30% N2 < 80% CO2:20% air < 100% CO2. Longer shelf life was observed in samples supplemented with the volatile compounds of oregano essential oil.

Sensors

Many packaging concepts involve the use of sensors and indicators. These are used commonly in the Modified atmospheric packaging (MAP) and Vacuum packaging. MAP technology is very important packaging technique used extensively for the distribution, storage and display of meat products in markets with the controllers. Map technology works by replacement of the air surrounding a meat product with formulated gas mixtures, thereby exceeding the shelf life and quality. The most common non-inert gas used is oxygen and carbon dioxide. Sensors detect, locate by giving signals to the device it corresponds.

Research and development of sensor technology has, until recently, been largely concentrated in biomedical and environmental aspects. The specifications of such sensors are, however, quite different from those required for food packaging applications. The development of improved methods to determine food quality such as freshness, microbial spoilage, oxidative rancidity or oxygen and/or heat induced deterioration is extremely important to food manufacturers. In order to maximize the quality and safety of foodstuffs, a prediction of shelf-life based on standard quality control procedures is normally undertaken. Replacement of such time-consuming and expensive quality measurements with rapid, reliable and inexpensive alternatives has lead to greater efforts being made to identify and measure chemical or physical indicators of food quality. The possibility of developing a sensor for rapid quantification of such an indicator is known as the marker approach. Determination of indicator headspace gases provides a means by which the quality of a meat product and the integrity of the packaging in which it is held can be established rapidly and inexpensively. One means of doing so is through the production of intelligent packaging incorporating gas sensor technology.

Chapter 4: Findings

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Tags)

The warning module uses rule-based reasoning to judge the environmental condition inside the container and forecast the quality of the perishable products. The module selects useful information from the real-time monitoring module and forecast module. There are two functions of this module. Firstly, the warning module will decide, based on the data transfer to the module,

Whether to give customer warnings. For example, if the present observed temperature is higher than the upper limit, the module will give a warning. The second function is that the module will use the existing quality loss model to estimate the present value of the products. Based on the kind of the perishable product that is being transported, the module will chose a quality loss model for it.

The manufacturer can also choose a model thought to be the most suitable. Having established the given initial value, limit value and guarantee date, the warning module will report to the system how much time is left until the value of the perishable product will fall below the quality limit. The module can judge whether the time is adequate for the container to arrive at the destination, because the forecast module can inform the warning module how much time needed. If the time left is less than the remaining time calculated by the quality loss curve or if the present value is lower than the limit value, the module will also give a warning. Additionally, the warning can forecast the exactly value of the perishable products. If the user thinks the profit is too low, the transportation of the perishable products can be cancelled. If there are no accidents, the module will give ''no warning" information to the system.

Step 1: The warning module gives reasons for a warning to the warning database.

Step 2: The warning database gives the warning information to the inference engine.

Step 3: The inference engine searches the decision rule database for suitable decisions to

Cope with the warning.

Step 4: All the suitable decisions are given to the user interface

The RFID part is composed of RFID tags and RFID readers. This part can transmit product information and transportation information to EPCglobal, which supplies the network platform sharing RFID information, and to the backend system, at any time. The EPC global and GPS can visualize the locations that the products have gone past. The RFID-sensors part can monitor the status of the products. A sensor network is composed of RFID and several sensor nodes connecting different kinds of sensors according to the needs of the shippers and customers. A sensor transmits information to the backend system through GPRS. When the containers are on trucks the vehicle GPS can also track the location of the products. The location information will also be transmitted to the backend system in real-time.

Logistics is facing a big challenge from reducing the losses incurred during the transportation of perishable products. The value loss of perishable products is a very complex problem, because the value of the products is significantly affected by changes in the environmental conditions under which they are transported. If the environmental factors in the container can be monitored, decisions can be adjusted online once they are aware of current status of their products. Thus, serious value loss situations can probably be avoided. The new RFID technique provides an efficient tool to monitor, trace and track products in real-time. A backend system as been proposed as a assistance system to manage the vehicles and containers. The proposed decision support system for perishable products has two main objectives. One aims to monitor the environmental conditions in real-time and to give warnings once the temperature, humidity or others factors exceed the safety limit. The other aims to help the user to adjust their decisions in time to avoid value loss in the cold chain. It can tell the user what the best practices are, and give customers suggestions on how to deal with critical situations. The case study described proves the system has a good performance in coping with the accidents. In that case, the system uses the rules set for that case to reschedule the vehicles and the containers. The new plan successfully reduced the loss to 50% in a particular accident.

Chapter 5: Summary and Discussion

Introduction

In the preceding chapter, the data for the experiment was presented and statistical treatment of data was described. In this chapter the results of the analyses are discussed and the summaries of the research problem, method and procedures will be presented.

Summary of research problem

Using the RFID monitoring system, once some goods are found to be at risk, the operator can make decisions to prevent damage. This system will help users to make timely decisions to reduce the loss in value of perishable products that are being transported. It can give users a warning as soon as the unexpected happens, such as accidents, and gives some helpful decision suggestions, from its decision rule base, for coping with the unexpected event. Thus, by using this system, the loss incurred by the logistics companies due to perishable products going rotten during transportation, can be reduced.

Summary of Method

In order to maximize the quality and safety of foodstuffs, a prediction of shelf-life based on standard quality control procedures is normally undertaken. Replacement of such time-consuming and expensive quality measurements with rapid, reliable and inexpensive alternatives has lead to greater efforts being made to identify and measure chemical or physical indicators of food quality. The possibility of developing a sensor for rapid quantification of such an indicator is known as the marker approach. Determination of indicator headspace gases provides a means by which the quality of a meat product and the integrity of the packaging in which it is held can be established rapidly and inexpensively

Summary of Findings

The value loss of perishable products is a very complex problem, because the value of the products is significantly affected by changes in the environmental conditions under which they are transported. If the environmental factors in the container can be monitored, decisions can be adjusted online once they are aware of current status of their products. Thus, serious value loss situations can probably be avoided. The new RFID technique provides an efficient tool to monitor, trace and track products in real-time.

Conclusions

The efficient packaging production lines need consistent materials and the storage and handling of components is a vital. Fiber based materials such as cartons, and labels on it can be affected by the changes in temperature and relative humidity. The manufacturer can also choose a model thought to be the most suitable. The development of improved methods to determine food quality such as freshness, microbial spoilage, oxidative rancidity or oxygen and/or heat induced deterioration is extremely important to food manufacturers.

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