Food wastage is a massive global issue as it directly impacts world hunger and global warming. Total global food wastage and loss is estimated to be between a third and half of all food produced, and it is estimated that nearly a billion people experience extreme hunger every day. We can all play a part in improving the amount of food wastage and loss we create, which can positively impact this global issue, as well as save ourselves time and money.
There are many various ways to extend the expiry dates of food. There are a variety of traditional methods that have been successfully used for several decades, such as curing with salt, smoking, pickling, freezing, canning, or the addition of chemical preservatives.
One easy, modern option to successfully extend the expiry dates of your food is buying a vacuum packaging machine. Vacuum packing food products can greatly extend their shelf life. For example, a frozen vacuum package of fresh beef can last for more than four months.
A vacuum packaging machine removes any air around a food product as it seals it in an impermeable package or jar. This means no preservatives or additives need to be added. Vacuum packaging machines are widely available and are extremely helpful kitchen gadgets to own. Vacuum packaging machines extend the expiry dates of food in two ways:
The removal of surrounding air helps to extend a food product’s shelf life by up to three to five times. This is because by removing all of the air around the food product you stop any bacteria, yeast and mould from spoiling the food as these micro-organisms need oxygen to grow. Lowering the amount of oxygen around the surface of food products also minimises the risk of oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that causes discolourisation and causes fat-containing food to go rancid.
Vacuum packing seals food products in plastic or glass materials. This contributes to how a vacuum sealer extends the expiry dates of food as plastics and glass have a low oxygen permeability and are able to hold a vacuum. Once the air surrounding the food product is removed and the pouch is sealed tightly, oxygen levels continue to drop and therefore carbon dioxide levels increase. This creates a low oxygen, high carbon dioxide environment inside the sealed package. This type of environment significantly lowers the growth of spoilage organisms, allowing for extended expiry dates for food products.
If a food product isn’t handled, processed, packaged, and stored correctly there's a chance it can become contaminated with bacteria. An important step in ensuring your vacuum-sealed food products have the longest shelf life possible is by preparing the food products accurately and storing them correctly afterwards. Vacuum-sealed food products’ shelf life can be affected by acidity, temperature, sanitation, laminates used in pouch construction, and ingredients’ condition.
Food products that are going to be vacuum-sealed should be prepared in a sanitary manner and then stored at an appropriate temperature for optimum expiry dates. It is important to clean and sanitize any surfaces that may come in contact with food products. Alongside this, it is also important to sanitize your hands, personal gear, and utensils. Your vacuum packaging machine and additional equipment also need to be carefully monitored. It is recommended that it all be cleaned and sanitized after each day’s use.
When it comes to accurately storing vacuum-sealed food products, it is important to keep the sealed pouches away from any sharp objects or edges. Handle the vacuum-sealed pouches with care and repackage the food products immediately if any damage occurs. Refrigerate or freeze pouches as soon as possible to slow the growth of any microorganisms that can cause spoilage. Also, always clearly label vacuum-sealed pouches before storage to ensure food is safely consumed in the future.
If all of this preparation and storage is done accurately, the shelf life of vacuum-sealed food products can be extended greatly and safely. Alongside this, vacuum packing your food can also save you time and money. It will enable you to waste less food and will make the storing of your food products more efficient. These highly beneficial aspects of a vacuum packaging machine make it something that is definitely worth investing in.