Healthy snacking is the latest trend! Nutritional experts confirm that consumers are attaching increasing importance to high-quality snacks containing natural ingredients. And that goes for the appropriate packaging, too. Regardless of whether cheese or sausages are involved – the product packaging must be as easy to open as possible, must satisfy the specific requirements of the product and must be appealing to the consumer. For sausage snacks, packaging solutions are frequently employed that are based on PVdC. But now there is also a PVdC-free solution with easy opening – produced on the Poly-clip System Sealing/Clipping Machines.
How do you get the sausage out of its skin?
Poly-clip System is renowned worldwide for its clipping machines, which are used for a wide variety of sausage products. But how do you snack on a clipped sausage? How do you get the sausage out of its skin without cutting the clip off? The answer is simple – the sausage casing must be such that you can open it just with your hand. For this there are a number of approaches, which are frequently based on the use of PVdC. The disadvantage of these, however, is that PVdC plastics pollute the environment on both manufacture and disposal, and during waste incineration give off dioxins, which are injurious to health. On top of this, this group of plastics, unlike polyethylene, has to be rendered elastic with plasticisers. And these, including ATBC (acetyl tributyl citrate) and ESBO (epoxidised soybean oil), owing to their fat solubility, readily make their way into fatty foods. The problems associated with this have not yet been definitively resolved.
New packaging approaches with easy opening
New packaging designs are based on the use of heat sealable composite films consisting of PE (polyethylene) and PA (polyamide). The PE outer layer with easy-peel is required for heat sealing with an overlapping seam. The inner PA layer provides the calibre stability. Easy opening is already allowed for in the manufacture of the flat film. For one thing, one edge of the flat film is provided at regular intervals with defined tear notches, which create tabs for tearing the film. Secondly, the plastic used must be oriented, so the film tears in a straight line around the sausage. Meanwhile, some film manufacturers already include composite films of this type in their product range.
Production on the machine
On the machine the flat film is formed by means of a special forming shoulder into a film tube and is sealed lengthways by heat sealing with a longitudinal seam. The film edge with prepared tear notches is guided in such a way that it lies over the second film edge. In the area where both film edges overlap, the heat-sealed seam is produced in such a way that the edge with the prepared tear notches projects as an easy opening means. With the integral clipping unit, the film tube is securely closed in the double-clipping process. The continuous heat-sealed seam and the bacteria proof R-ID clips mean on the one hand that a 100% stable closure of the film without any weak spots is achieved, and on the other hand that the consumer is easily able to grip the easy opener and tear the film along the heat-sealed seam.
Automatic Sealing/Clipping Machine from Poly-clip System
For the manufacture of such sausage snacks with easy opening, a TSCA 160/120 Automatic Sealing/Clipping Machine from Poly-clip System is used. Flat film lengths of up to 3,300 metres allow for continuous production for more than 4 hours at a time. No intervention or correction of the film length by the operator is required, and thus continuous, automatic production is guaranteed. End of film and clip supply are automatically monitored, as is the adequacy of the output of the filler. The high degree of automation of the TSCA also allows for a significant measure of process monitoring, involving for example parameters stored in recipe management. When irregularities occur, the TSCA 160/120 automatically issues a warning. Also available as an optional extra is the WS Food Standard Interface for operational data acquisition via the customer’s own network. The high level of automation of the TSCA is also reflected in its machine cycle-dependent central lubrication system. This essential function, being fully automatic, is no longer neglected and furthermore represents a saving in man hours. This guarantees both maximum process reliability and the benefits of investment, since wear and tear is reduced, and maintenance and downtime are cut to a minimum. As a result, the service life of the machine, and thus the value of the investment, are ‘automatically’ increased.
The production of the new easy opening packaging on the TSCA 160/120 from Poly-clip System creates a win-win situation for manufacturers and consumers alike. Manufacturers can produce snack-type products with maximum cost efficiency and long-term security of investment. Consumers for their part get a product which contains no hidden risks, so they can ‘snack healthily’ as and when they please. The first products are already out there on the market, and it is just a question of time before others follow.