Chill Counter Products

Optimisation of transparent packaging materials with iron-based oxygen-scavenger for chill counter products

Workgroup: Preservation of Food Quality

Scientific Partners and Guidance:
Fraunhofer Institute for Processing Engineering and Packaging (IVV), Dr. K. Rieblinger

IGF: 15555 N
Financing: BMWi
Duration: 2008 – 2010

The Shelf life of many foods can be extended under oxygen-reduced atmosphere. This is valid in particular for the wide group of transparent packed chilled products (for example delicacy salads, meat products, ready menus, cheese, preformed dough or chilled pizzas). An oxygen-reduced atmosphere can be achieved by using vacuum or by using protective gases (Modified Atmosphere Packaging MAP). However, up to 2% of residual oxygen will remain dissolved in the food or trapped in pores. This amount is sufficient in particular under influence of light to damage the quality of the food quickly. Hence it is aimed to remove this rest oxygen from the packaging with so called oxygen scavengers. So the food could be packed in transparent packaging and stored under commercial lighting in the sales counter with nearly unchanged shelf life.

Currently the packaging industry already tries to incorporate oxygen scavengers as an absorbent material in the packaging films. As active packaging materials these films should absorb remaining oxygen from inside the package or protect the filling goods against the penetrating oxygen from outside. This application is in contrast to former attempts to add oxygen scavengers in sachets to the food as additional part, which was never accepted by the consumers. Integrated in polyolefins and as a part of plastic multi layer iron-based oxygen scavengers are already in practical application, for example in the packaging of ready-to-serve meals with shelf life up to nine months and more. In the whole area of chill counter goods an application field arises for active oxygen scavenging materials, because these products are susceptible against oxygen and have only short shelf life. Packaging under modified atmosphere is not sufficient and vacuum would often lead to pressure damages.

The project pursues two aims:

  • Iron-based oxygen scavenger should be incorporated in different polymer materials depending on their specific oxygen and vapour permeation rate and then be examined regarding the efficiency and scavenging kinetic.
  • Suitable materials should be the basis for the production of trays. These are used in combination with transparent lid films for packaging of chilled bar products. Packaging will be produced under modified atmosphere and the improved preservation of food quality should be demonstrated.


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.