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Food grade packaging materials – Types and varieties
Saturday, 18 March, 2023, 14 : 00 PM [IST]
Aishwarya Sawant
The need for packaging in the Indian food sector is predominantly influenced by design and quality, shifting consumption patterns, cost-effectiveness and an increasing emphasis on public health and sanitation. The primary purpose of packaging is to preserve food and safeguard consumer health by shielding it from microbial, chemical, physical and atmospheric contamination. It also assures that there is no alteration in the sensory aspects or composition of food when it is packed.

Packaging is requisite and crucial for boosting food safety, increasing shelf-life, and thus improving food security. It is a vital link between the food producer and the consumer. Any container or packaging used to store the food must be smooth, and clear of any fissures, chips, ridges or grooves that could act as breeding grounds for bacteria and make it difficult to thoroughly clean. According to FSSAI, “food grade packaging material” refers to products composed of substances that are safe and appropriate for the purpose for which they are designed, and which do not risk human health or have an extreme negative impact on the composition of food or organoleptic attributes and also should not introduce hazardous or unsafe matter into the food.

Types of food packaging

Primary food packaging refers to the packaging material that comes in immediate contact with the food items. The primary objective of this packaging is to confine, safeguard, and /or to protect the final good particularly from contamination and spoilage as well as to provide information about the product such as nutritional information, ingredients, and expiration dates.
Secondary food packaging refers to the packaging material that surrounds the primary food packaging and does not come in immediate contact with the food items. This kind of packaging further offers safety to preserve the integrity of the primary packaging. It is designed to provide additional protection and convenience for the transportation and handling of multiple primary packages. It often includes branding, labeling and barcodes to facilitate efficient inventory management and tracking.
Tertiary food packaging refers to the outermost layer of packaging that is used to protect food products during distribution and sale. This layer of packaging is typically designed to be visually appealing, provide additional branding or marketing messaging, and protect the food product from damage, contamination and tampering which is particularly important for perishable or fragile items.

Food grade packaging materials
Sr no.

Glass containers
Glass is non-reactive and doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals that could leach into the food. It is also impermeable to gases and moisture.

Metal cans
Metal cans are commonly used for the canned goods and beverages. They are coated with a food-grade lacquer that prevents the metal from reacting with the food.

Plastic containers
Plastic containers are lightweight, durable, and flexible. Plastic containers that are safe for food use are usually labeled with the recycling symbol and a number between 1 and 7.

Paper packaging
Paper packaging is commonly used for dry goods like cereals and snacks. It is typically coated with a food-grade wax or plastic to prevent moisture from seeping through.

Flexible packaging
Flexible packaging includes pouches, bags and wraps. These materials are often made from multiple layers of plastic, aluminium, and other materials to provide a barrier against oxygen, moisture and light.

Importance of packaging
Food grade packaging plays an essential role in ensuring the safety and quality of our food products. It refers to packaging materials and containers that are specifically designed and manufactured to be safe for use with food items.
Overall the choice of food grade packaging material depends on several factors, including the type of food being stored or transported, cost, durability, and environmental impact. By selecting appropriate food grade packaging materials we can ensure that our food products are safe, healthy and of high quality.

(The author is a food consultant with F2F Corporate Consultants Private Limited. She can be reached at
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