Packaging is an important aspect of a product’s development. Not only can packaging help establish a product or brand, but it is also crucial in maintaining quality control and ensuring the product reaches consumers without spoilage. Ensuring package integrity will allow food to travel to its destination unspoiled, delivering a quality product and building brand trust with end consumers. This article will explain why package seal integrity and leak testing are important steps in any food manufacturer’s process, and what methods you can go about to ensure a proper, durable seal.
Why is Leak Testing Important?
1. Product Spoilage
In the food industry, package integrity is especially important, as food items can be adversely affected when exposed to organic contaminants if the package seals fail. A properly sealed package will ensure the maximum shelf life of a product is reached, and is especially important in perishable items such as salad, baked goods, dairy, and pet food. If there is a leak in the packaging, oxygen will be able to permeate the product and begin or accelerate the decomposition process. Leak testing will help maximize the freshness of food products, ensuring the top quality is delivered to customer’s hands.
2. Transportation Requirements
The importance of package seal testing is twofold for food products, as not only are they prone to spoilage, but often need to travel over long distances to reach their consumers. High altitude transport, via air or land, can compromise packaging and cause leaks. This additional pressure on packaging necessitates an increased level of package testing to ensure packages can withstand high and changing altitudes before they are transported. Pre-emptive testing during the packaging process will reduce product waste, ensuring that packages are up to par before they have even been loaded to transport.
3. Brand Image & Consumer Trust
Similar to any product, food products need to build brand recognition and trust with their consumer base. Testing package integrity will help to build this connection with customers by ensuring they are always receiving fresh food. While a customer may be unlikely to purchase a deflated bag of chips or a browning container of salad, they are likely to remember the brand that provided these products and avoid them in the future. Additionally, if they do purchase and unknowingly consume spoiled products, the risk for food poisoning and other ailments is high. A reputable brand can easily lose ground due to faulty packaging, and proper package leak testing can prevent customers from losing brand confidence.
Depending on your product, different types of testing are ideal. FlexPak offers a variety of seal integrity testing methods, following ASTM testing standards, depending on your product and needs.
Bubble Leak Testing: Bubble Leak Testing is completed in an acrylic vacuum chamber. The sealed product is submerged in water, and when put under pressure bubbles will form at any compromised points in the packaging. Bubble Leak Testing is an easy visual test that will ensure your packaging’s integrity and adheres to the ASTM D3078 testing standard.
Altitude Simulation Testing: Altitude Simulation testing, the ASTM D6653 testing standard, is a package integrity testing method that simulates the extreme pressure changes a package may undergo during transport. This testing is especially important for products that will travel over long distances via airfreight, or ground freight that will cover mountainous regions and experience altitude changes. An altitude test will simulate ascent and descent rates as well as maintain a set altitude for an extended period of time, thus ensuring that packaging can withstand its transport and reach consumers intact.
Dry Chamber Tests: A Dry Chamber Test is performed without liquid in a leak detector tank. This procedure is best suited for packages containing liquids, such as condiment sachets or bottles with lug-style and threaded caps. The package is placed within the chamber on an absorbent material, and when put under pressure any leaks will result in the presence of liquid within the dry tank. ASTM D5094 testing standard is performed in a dry tank environment.
Proper leak testing is an important step in the manufacturing and packaging process, and can help ensure that your food product is reaching consumers fresh and undamaged. FlexPak can offer you custom solutions to ensure your packaging maintains its integrity at all stages of your product’s life. From Seafood to Snack Food, Pasta to Pet Food, and anywhere in between, FlexPak is the most reliable solution when it comes to package seal integrity and leak testing equipment. Contact us now at (416) 399-5583 or visit us at https://flexpakinc.com for more information or to request a quote.