Cardboard Packaging/Odour

Development of strategies to secure the desired sensory properties of cardboard packaging based on descriptive and instrumental odour analyses

Workgroup: Compliance of Packaging Material

Scientific Partners and Guidance:

  1. Fraunhofer Institute for Processing Engineering and Packaging (IVV), Dr. M. Czerny
  2. Papiertechnologische Stiftung (PTS), Dr. M. Kleebauer

IGF: 425 ZN
Financing: BMWi
Duration: 2012-2014

Background/Problem area

To control the organoleptic properties of food stuffs more and more higher standards are established by the food industry. Already very small deviations in odour and taste can be detected with very effective organoleptic tests methods but only assigned in minor cases to a potential source. Often packaging materials are under a strong suspicion to cause changes in the organoleptic properties of food stuffs. Therefore they are often the reason of customer complaints.

Compared with other packaging materials carton boards but also papers have some disadvantages regarding their oranoleptic properties:

  • Paper and board are mainly composed of natural fibres and possess nearly in every case a small but not unpleasant odour by itself.
  • The fibres of cellulose and mechanical wood pulps are a very good nutrient media for microorganisms which could generate odorous compounds during production and storage.
  • Very rapidly fibres adsorb low molecular compounds like solvents or residual monomers. In return the emission of the volatile compounds is very slow.

To avoid customer complaints and losses in market shares the currently used quality assurance measures for monitoring the organoleptic properties of carton board products need to be optimised in the paper and board industry to create a better basis for future optimisation work.

Objectives/Research results

The objectives of the research project include the following points:

  • Identification of the main odorous compounds in packaging products made from carton board
  • Development of an organoleptic test method for the board industry taking into account the increasing requirements of the food industry
  • Improvement of the significance of sensory test results performed with card board and folding boxes with regard to influences from raw materials, additives, varnishes and printing inks.
  • Development of a quick gas-chromatographic method for the analysis of the main odorous compounds
  • Quick allocation of odorous compounds to the main sources
  • Allocation of the sensation of human nose to the main odorous compounds
  • Improvement of the quality assurance and quality optimisation of card board regarding to the sensory properties

Application/Economic benefits

The research results can be used along the whole value chain from the carton board production up to the final packaged food product. Especially the following economical advantages are generated:

  • Avoiding of customer complaints and product losses via control of odour and taste
  • Future use of carton board as packaging material for food stuffs especially in the case of recycling board qualities.

Project Reports


The IGF project presented here by the Research Association of the Industrial Association for Food Technology and Packaging (IVLV e.V.) is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy via the AiF as part of the program for the promotion of industrial community research (IGF) based on a decision of the German Bundestag.