Glossary of Packaging Terms
Absorbent packing: material within a package which absorbs liquids from product; pad in meat trays is made from paper and has a plastic liner.
Aseptic packaging: a technique for creating a shelf-stable container by placing a commercially sterile product into a commercially sterile container in a commercially sterile environment. The sealed container is designed to maintain product sterility until the seal is broken.
Bacon wrapper paper: a glassine, greaseproof, or vegetable parchment paper, or a laminated product made from these papers and other materials, used for wrapping bacon.
Blister packaging: the item is secured between a preformed (usually transparent plastic) dome or "bubble" and a paperboard surface or "carrier"; also referred to as a "bubble pack." (example: bologna package hanging on a peg in a supermarket's refrigerated case).
Boil-in-bag: a sealed container made of heat-resistant material designed to hold a food product and permit the ultimate user to bring the bag and product to boiling temperature in preparation for eating before the product is removed from the bag. (example: frozen entrees or vegetables).
Breathing package: packaging material made in such a manner that air may enter or leave under varying conditions, including temperature changes, with or without a drying agent to remove moisture from entering the package. Most wrap used for fresh red meat allows enough air to pass through to keep the proper color in the meat.
Can: a receptacle generally having less than 1 gallon capacity (consumer or institutional sizes); also means to pack a product in a can or a wide-mouth glass container for processing, shipping or storage.
Cardboard: term erroneously used for "paperboard." A stiff, moderately thick paperboard; heavier than paper. (example: used for frozen entrees).
CAP "controlled atmosphere packaging": a packaging method in which selected atmospheric concentrations of gases are maintained throughout storage in order to extend product shelf life. Gas may either be evacuated or introduced to achieve the desired atmosphere. Normally used for fruits and vegetables, not meat products.
CPET (crystallized polyethylene terephthalate): a heat-tolerant plastic that can be molded into multi-compartment and single frozen food containers; can be heated in the microwave or conventional oven.
Delicatessen paper: used as an inner wrap for meats and for soft foods to retain the moisture in the food and to prevent the outer wrapper from becoming water- or grease-soaked; made from bleached chemical wood pulp and may be given a dry paraffin wax treatment of about 10 to 20-percent of the weight of the paper.
Fiberboard can: a rigid container constructed almost completely of lightweight fiber stock; may be lined, treated or coated; ends of can may be made of paperboard or metal (composite can). (examples: packaging used for juice concentrates, potato sticks and onion rings)
Flexible container: bags, envelopes, pouches or wraps which can be changed in shape or bent manually; made of materials such as paper, plastic film, foils, etc., or combinations of them.
Foam trays and other foam shapes: made from expanded polystyrene (EPS); formed when foaming agents are added to polystyrene and passed through a die. (examples: trays for fresh meat; egg cartons) Styrofoam [trade mark] is an insulation used in building materials; it's not used in packaging.
Frozen foods paper: a type of high moisture and water vapor resistant paper used for inner liners in frozen food packaging; usually specially treated glassine or bleached chemical wood papers, waxed papers, or plain or coated vegetable parchment paper; pliable and strong to resist cracking at freezing temperatures and for high wet strength.
Glassine: smooth, dense, transparent or semi-transparent paper manufactured primarily from chemical wood pulps; is grease resistant and has a high resistance to the passage of air. May be waxed, lacquered or laminated to be impervious to the transmission of moisture vapor. White and colors.
Meat wrapping paper: a specially treated odorless and tasteless paper that resists meat juices, fat and grease, and is easy to remove from any kind of meat.
Metal can: a rigid metal container made of steel sheet or plate, 27 gauge or less in thickness, or a similar container made of aluminum, copper or other metal. (example: food cans).
Migration: transfer of a component of a packaging material into the product contained, or loss of a component of the product into the packaging material.
MAP ("modified atmosphere packaging"): a packaging method in which a combination of gases such as oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen is introduced into the package at the time of closure. Purpose is to extend shelf life of the product packaged. (example: lunch meat in a blister package).
Netting (plastic): continuous extruded net of flexible plastic material, most commonly polyethylene, which can be made into bags, sleeves or wraps. (example: net over a frozen turkey package).
Nylon: nylon is a versatile family of thermoplastic resins that vary from relatively flexible products to tough, strong and stiff materials; resistant to oils and greases; widely used for meat and cheese packaging, for boil-in-bags and pouches.
Ovenable board: a paperboard that can be placed in an oven (microwave or conventional) to serve as the cooking utensil for food; typically a solid, bleached sulphate board coated with polyester terephthalate. (example: frozen entrees).
Packaging: the enclosure of products in a wrap, pouch, bag, box, cup, tray, can, tube, bottle or other container form to perform one or more of the following functions: 1. containment for handling, transportation and use; 2. preservation and protection of the contents for required shelf and use life; 3. identification of contents, quantity, quality and manufacturer; 4. facilitate dispensing and use.
Plasticizer: material added during the manufacturing process to increase flexibility; for example, the plasticizer ATBC (acetyl tributyl citrate), used in such DowBrands™ as Saran™ and Handiwrap™, is made from citric acid which is commonly present in citrus fruit.
Polyester, thermoset: filled plastic which is heated to harden into a shape and does not soften when heated during normal cooking temperatures; example: plastic dishes in frozen dinner entrees; can be heated in the microwave or conventional oven.
PET ("polyethylene terephthalate"): a thermoplastic polyester used in beverage bottles and food trays designed for microwave and conventional ovens.
Polyethylene film: the most-used transparent flexible packaging material; made from polyethylene, a synthetic clear compound formed by subjecting ethylene, a gas found in coal, to pressure. It is low cost, transparent, tough, heat sealable, moisture-proof and resistant to low temperatures. Examples: Glad® & Handiwrap™.
PVC ("polyvinyl chloride"): replaced cellophane as the preferred meat wrapping used in supermarkets; a member of the vinyl family made from a compound found in petroleum. Low cost, protects against moisture loss, but has some oxygen permeability so it allows meat to "bloom" (stay red and fresh looking).
Polypropylene: a synthetic resin plastic packaging material used for microwave-only heating of foods with low fat and sugar content; not heat stable for use in conventional ovens.
Polyvinylidene Chloride: ("polly-vanilla-deen") a thermoplastic polymer which can withstand higher temperatures than polyethylene; especially useful for covering utensils when microwaving foods; moisture-proof and transparent. (example: Saran Wrap™)
Retort packaging: a flexible container typically formed from aluminum foil and plastic laminants. Can withstand in-package sterilization of the product, and, like metal food cans, can provide a shelf-stable package for foods.
Shrink wrapping: plastic film that shrinks when heated, producing a tight, neat fit; the most popular form of grocery store meat packaging is PVC wrapping with foam trays.
Vacuum packaging: rigid or flexible containers from which substantially all air has been removed before sealing. Carbon dioxide or nitrogen may be introduced into the container. This process prolongs shelf life, preserves the flavors and retards bacterial growth.
- Glossary of Packaging Terms, Sixth Edition, Compiled and Published by The Packaging Institute International, 1988, ISBN 0-86512-951-7.
- Packaging Foods with Plastics, by Wilmer A. Jenkins and James P. Harrington, Technomic Publishing company, Inc., 1991, ISBN 87762-790-8.