Testing food packaging - quality assurance questions and answers

  • Mecmesin

A unique challenge
The packaging of food presents a unique challenge in the sector due to the conflicting objective requirements of functionality and legislation and the subjective, emotional and sensory judgement of aesthetics, ease of use and ultimately the product contained.

The increasing consumer demands for innovative packaging designs that are more eco-friendly and evolving trends in food ingredients, formulation and nutrition are variables which make consistency in quality and continued customer loyalty harder to guarantee.

Measuring quality
Being able to quantify those attributes that influence the end user empowers the manufacturer, supplier or producer to measure their own product's performance with confidence. New or revised designs can be checked against existing product benchmarks which uniquely relevant to the company's business:
• Optimise design
• Guarantee production quality
• Minimise costs and reduce waste
• Conform to standards

A structured testing strategy can put a figure on How strong? How secure? How efficient? How easy or How fresh?

Answering the important questions
Mecmesin has been designing and manufacturing force and torque testing systems since 1977 and offers a wide range of universal, dedicated and custom testers to meet the needs of all food packaging-related industries:
• The precise force to tear a packet, peel a seam, pierce a foil, remove a cork or actuate a pump on your packaging product.
• The torque characteristics of your tamper-evident twist cap.
• The robustness and integrity of your packaging under storage and transportation conditions.
• The required physical properties of your raw materials.
• Guarantee your products meet all relevant national and international standards, as well as in-house specifications.

Example cases

Can the consumer operate the flip-cap of your packaging closure easily but will it remain securely closed when not needed?

Tensile testing is invaluable in determining a broad variety of packaging material properties and evaluating the dissociation strength of jointed components, by pulling apart. Typical tests include tensile strength, elasticity and elongation, plus peel, tear and joint strength; particularly relevant to openability. A Mecmesin Universal Testing Machine (UTM), fitted with appropriate grips can perform these tensile tests. For material properties calculations, appropriate software and instrumentation is needed, all included in the OmniTestTM range with VectorProTM Materials Testing software.

Could you reduce the wall thickness of your PET bottle, and lightweight it without compromising its crush resistance?

Compression testing can be performed by the same type of machine; squashing the test sample to measure its crush or burst resistance or pure compressive strength. In the food packaging sector, the top-load testing of boxes, cartons and bottles is vital to verify recommendations for stacking load. Mecmesin's MultiTest range of systems provides the ideal solution.

Are you able to check the application torque of your bottle capping line to eliminate leakage, but still allow the end user to remove the cap easily?

Torque testing measures the turning effort required to twist screw caps and other treaded components, most commonly packaging closures. Again, a software controlled tester is the optimal choice as it is able to differentiate between the discrete events than can occur in complex rotating closure containment systems which in the food and beverage industries may include a tamper-evidence element. The Mecmesin Vortex range is motorised to ensure the best possible accuracy and repeatability. We also offer manually operated testers for quick checking closure application and removal torques.

Further questions
The above cases are examples of fundamental tests which should be applied to food packaging. Mecmesin's solutions also include dedicated testers, designed for specialised procedures, and our engineers are able to build custom test solutions for individual needs:
• Could you reduce the surface roughness of your packaging material to decrease processing cycle time?
• Can you compare the shelf-life implications of alternative packaging methods on food texture?

Yes … just ask.

See also

Mecmesin OmniTest machine demo by the Duchess of Sussex at University of Chichester Tech Park opening

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex officially opened the University of Chichester’s new Engineering and Digital Technology Park on 3rd October 2018. Part of the tour of the £35million development, based at the Bognor Regis campus, was a visit to the Department of Engineering and Design. The laboratory features several Mecmesin force measurement machines, notably a 50 kN OmniTest Universal Testing Machine (UTM); a state-of-the-art software-controlled materials testing system.

Methods of force and torque testing for food packaging quality

Packaging solutions for food are incredibly diverse; in all aspects of physical design, mechanical function and aesthetic appeal. Their purpose is more straightforward: be safe, secure, yet easy to open, close or reliably re-seal; dispense cleanly and efficiently; minimise loss and waste; maximise shelf life; be cost-effective to manufacture and ultimately recycle or dispose of. Add to that, the consumer desire for attractive and innovative new designs, and the straightforward ultimate purpose can become quite involved in terms of meeting each individual challenge.

Mecmesin white paper: Force testing in medical tubing

Plastic medical tubing is central to the provision of effective health care in the 21st century. It is essential for the delivery of blood, nutrients and gases to the patient, and for the execution of minimally invasive surgical procedures such as cardiac angioplasty, which have proliferated widely over recent years. This article examines four force testing procedures for plastic medical tubing and explores the benefits and methodological considerations of each.

Universal testing machine range (0.5 - 5 kN)

Mecmesin offers a wide range of universal testing machines (UTM) for tension and compression testing. At the top end, our MultiTest-i systems are driven by the powerful Emperor™ control and analysis software on a separate PC, while our production-level testers in the MultiTest-xt series offer touch-screen ease of use and rapid processing. All of these systems give fully programmed control and accurate, repeatable testing, with test libraries for instant recall.

  • Mike Webber
  • Product Info
  • English
  • Created 17 Nov 2017
  • Modified 20 Feb 2018
  • Hits 1543