MESH Fruit Packaging: Meeting High Health and Sanitation Standards

The U.S. is a key market for the very demanding horticulture concerns of health and sanitation for consumers.

As a result, mesh bag packaging is being utilized for preservation, sanitation and organoleptic characteristics (acting on or involving the use of the sense organs) of fresh consumer products; ensuring quality from the time of purchase to consumption at the consumer’s home.

Mesh Bag Packaging
Produces a Positive Correlation in Reducing Microbial Hazards

While foodborne illnesses in fresh fruits continue to be on forefront of health concern, independent MESH BAG studies confirm a positive correlation directly linking apple hygienic quality with MESH BAG packaging technology.   The Food and Drug Administration reports; “Since 1973, the number of reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with produce has more than doubled. As a result, pathogens on fresh fruits and vegetables have become a major concern.”

“Strategies to reduce microbial hazards in produce include the implementation of:

  • Good Agricultural Practices on farms, and 
  • Good Manufacturing Practices in PACKING, HANDLING, AND STORAGE

Read more: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodScienceResearch/SafePracticesforFoodProcesses/ucm094147.htm

An independent comparative study by AINIA Technology, revealed storage conditions, or packaging as a main factor affecting maturation and proper sanitary maintenance of fresh vegetables and fruits.  

PACKAGING SIMULATION TESTS FOR Aerobic Mesophilic Bacteria, Molds and Yeast
The independent study’s simulation consisted of comparing mesh bags and plastic pouch bags in order to determine what type of packaging influences the microbiological quality of fresh apples required at commercial level and throughout the different stages of storage to its consumption.

Does packaging influence the microbiological quality of apples packaged in “mesh bags” as compared to “plastic pouch bags?”

 AINIA Technology evaluated the aerobic mesophilic bacteria, molds and yeast of apples packaged in mesh and pouch bags to determine whether or not the type of package influences the apple hygienic quality.

As can be seen, upon receipt to AINIA (T0), apples packaged in the plastic pouch bags show a slightly higher microbiological count than apples packaged in the mesh bags. The difference is maintained throughout the different controls of transportation (T1) and market shelves (T2). Where we see an exceptional difference is in control (T3), which is the simulation of consumption at home.

Considerable discrepancy arose in the aerobic mesophilic counts of the mesh and plastic bag storage during the last part of the “home stage” simulation (T3). While apples packaged in mesh maintained consistent sanitation levels in the home stage control (T3), apples packaged in plastic pouch bags show much higher aerobic mesophilic count levels.Different stages of studying the change of microbiological quality in simulated marketing conditions:

  • T0—arrival of the mesh and pouch bags of apples to AINIA Technology Center
  • T1—simulating refrigerated transportation conditions on the apples in different packages
  • T2—simulating market conditions
  • T3—conditions “at home”
Change of aerobic mesophilic counts
Change of yeast and molds
A Comparative Microbiological Study between Apples Packed in Mesh and Pouch Bags, AINIA Technology Center, 2016. informacion@ainia.es

U.S. Apple Association Apple Crop Outlook and Marketing Conference

Frank Yiannas, Wal-Mart’s Vice President of Food Safety and Health, issued a five-point call to action to the audience of about 400 conference attendees.

Yiannas said he wanted to emphasize that vigilance in food safety is more than just creating just a food safety program, but rather about creating a culture of food safety throughout the entire apple industry.

In his presentation, Yiannas called on the industry to avoid complacency in food safety, he defined complacency as “over confidence and poor metrics.”

“The reality is that industry needs to accelerate prevention (technology),” he said.

Read more:   http://www.thepacker.com/news/wal-mart-safety-chief-implores-us-apple-audience-act

State of the Plate 2015, Study on America’s Consumption of Fruit & Vegetables
Produce for a Better Health Foundation

Food safety becomes even more imperative as we see younger segments of the population consuming more fruit per capita in 2015 as compared to 2009, along with continued indications of growth:

  • Children of all ages are consuming more fruit “as is” and with increases at all meal occasions. Berries, bananas, apples and oranges are driving this increase.
  • Adults ages 18-44 are eating more fruit at breakfast, particularly berries and bananas.
  • Working Women households and Traditional Families with stay at home moms have shown sizeable increases in fruit consumption over the past 5 years.
  • Fruit consumption, excluding juice, is expected to continue to grow by 9% over the next 5 years.

State of the Plate study reports over half of all vegetables and fruits consumed are purchased from the store.

Percentage of In Home Consumption of Various Forms of Fruit
Hygienic quality that is supported through mesh packaging becomes all the more paramount for good health with 90% of fruit preparation and consumption happening in the home.
Percentage Where Fruit & Vegetables Are Sourced

Consumer Packaging Preferences

An independent survey compared consumer preference of mesh bags to plastic pouch bags.   “Consumer Preferences for Packaging Attributes” survey indicates the majority of shoppers prefer the qualities found in mesh bag.

When surveyed, 1,020 people ages 18-65+ preferred the MESH bags performance over the Plastic Pouch bags in:

Bag Breathability 71%
Being able to SEE the Produce 74%
Being able to SMELL the Produce 74%
Easy to HANDLE Bag 67%
Consumer Preferences for Packaging Attributes; 2016. Beacon Research Solutions, Chicago IL

Mesh Manufacturing Benefits

Mesh Pouch Bag

  • 5-20 bags/min
  • 17%-45% less plastic/bag-2-5lb bags
  • Breathable
  • Stands up
  • $0.11-$0.12/bag material costs
  • $0.0021/bag = Labor cost
  • Runs on existing equipment
  • 1-10lb bags weights
  • Fully traceable
  • Mesh color options
  • Traceability printed on each bag
  • Multiple printing options
  • Handle
  • Fully automated
Plastic Pouch Bag

  • 3 bags/minute/worker
  • 17% more plastic per bag (2lb)
  • 25% more plastic per bag (3lb)
  • 45% more plastic per bag (5lb)
  • Maximum bag size – 2- 3lb bags
  • Requires 20 times more labor
  • $0.12-$0.18/bag material costs
  • $0.043/bag = Labor cost (minimum)
  • Limited automated equipment currently available
  • Automated equipment requires huge capital expenditure
  • Zip lock bags are often imported with long lead times
  • Zip locks open up at store
  • Bags break open during shipping and at store
  • Consumers open the bag, rearrange/trade fruit between bags
  • Labels must be hand applied
  • No clear traceability
  • Potential weight give away 1.3lbs per box

References:

Analysis and Evaluation of Preventive Control Measures for the Control and Reduction/Elimination of Microbial Hazards on Fresh and Fresh-Cut Produce: July, 2015. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodScienceResearch/SafePracticesforFoodProcesses/ucm091016.htm

Consumer Preferences for Packaging Attributes; 2016. Beacon Research Solutions, Chicago, IL

Wal-Mart Safety Chief Urges Vigilance, The Packer; August 2016. http://www.thepacker.com/news/wal-mart-safety-chief-implores-us-apple-audience-act

Enigma Marketing and Research, 2016. Info@enigmamarketing.com

A Comparative Microbiological Study between Apples Packaged in Mesh and Pouch Bags; 2016. Ainia Technology Center, Valencia Madrid. Information@ainia.es

State of the Plate Study on Americans Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables, 2015; Produce for a Better Health Foundation. http://www.pbhfoundation.org/pdfs/about/res/pbh_res/State_of_the_Plate_2015_WEB_Bookmarked.pdf