Vacuum technology was invented very early, but the idea of introducing vacuum packing to food packaging and storage industry was in the 1940s by Dr. Karl Busch, who founded the Busch company, a leading role in vacuum solutions worldwidely. KANGBEITE packaging machines are equipped with Busch vacuum pumps as a core part to guarantees the machine quality.

vacuum packing

Vacuum Packing

What is vacuum packing?

Vacuum packing is a technology to empty the air in a container, then seal the container to keep the vacuum status.

Vacuum technology is not only used in packing of small size packaging of food and non-food products, but also used in labortary, warehouse for stocking food products, vehicles, very large products in containers, etc.

Generally, when we talk about vacuum packing,  we are referring to vacuum packing of small size food and non-food products, in plastic bags, tin can, glass jars and plastic trays, that can be completed by various types of vacuum packing machines.

How do you achieve vacuum packing?

Vacuum packing is achieved by the use of vacuum packing machines.

In general, there are 3 types of vacuum packing machines:

1)External vacuum sealer: Vacuum and seal a plastic bag by attaching it to the machine externally. Only the air in the bag is removed.

The advantage of this type of vacuum sealer is the size of the packages to be vacuum packed is not limited, as long as the side to be sealed is within the capacity of the machine; Disadvantage of external vacuum sealer is the vacuum grade is not very high, simply put, comparing to chamber vacuum sealer, there are more residual air in the container packed by external vacuum sealer.

external vacuum sealer

External vacuum sealer

2)Chamber vacuum sealer: Vacuum and seal plastic bags in the chamber of the machine. The air in the whole chamber, including air in the bags, is removed for best vacuum quality. Chamber vacuum sealer machine is welcomed for food industries that need maximum grade vacuum packing, and high hygiene standard.

Disadvantages of chamber vacuum sealer is the size of the packages are limited to the chamber size. This issue can be resolved by customize the machine to have an enlarged chamber.

chamber vacuum sealer

Chamber vacuum sealer

3)Thermoforming vacuum packaging machine.

Thermoforming vacuum packaging machine is an automatic vacuum packaging solution with utmost output capacity. A roll of bottom forming film and a roll of upper sealing film are installed to the machine, forming film are pre-heated and vacuumed to form the pre-designed containers in the mold of forming chamber, then products are put into containers manually by operators or automatically by robots. Films are conveyed forward by chains, to sealing chamber, complete the process of vacuum and sealing. Then moves forward to cutting system. Final completed packages are conveyed to next step by a belt.

Advantages of thermoforming vacuum packaging machine: Utmost output capacity; Possibility of fully-automatic process; Labor cost saving; Packaging process saving.

thermoforming vacuum packaging machine

Thermoforming vacuum packaging machine

What are the purposes and benefits of vacuum packing?

Foodstuffs

  1. Vacuum packing can significantly prolong the shelf life of many food products, not all food products are suitable for vacuum packing though.
  2. Vacuum packing inhibits growth of aerobic bacteria (mycete, Saccharomyces,etc) by removing oxygen in the container.
  3. Decrease oxydation rate of foodstuffs, keep the original color and flavor.
  4. Lock water in the package, prevent fresh foodstuffs from drying.
  5. Prevent freezer burn in freezing storage
beef vacuum packing machine

Vacuum packed beef

Hardware, chemicals

Vacuum packing is necessary for packing, storage and transportation of bearings, laboratory equipments, chemicals etc. By preventing contacts with water and oxygen, prevents hardware and chemicals from rusting, oxidating and character changing.

vacuum packed hardware

Vacuum packed hardware

Textiles

Textile products are vacuum packed for 3 benefits

  1. Prevent contamination, guarantees hygiene and quality standards of textiles from factory to destiantion;
  2. Keep dry,  prevent insect damages. Minimize the influence of storage and transportation environment;
  3. Significantly reduce product volume as ultra compact packaging. Save space of warehouse and transportation vehicles.
vacuum packed mattress

Magniflex Company vacuum pack their mattress with reduced volume by 90%

Medical devices

In transportation and storage of medical devices,  vacuum packing is necessary to isolate from contamination of bacteria, air, water and dust.

Can I vacuum pack any foodstuffs?

The answer is NO.

Vacuum packing can prolong almost all foodstuffs’ shelf life for 2-5 times longer than any other packaging method. It’s very useful to keep your foods fresh and healthy, but not all food can be vacuum packed, at least don’t simply toss them into a vacuum bag and seal them. Fresh vegetables and fruits can’t be vacuum packed directly, you need to process them firstly, by blanching, drying or pickling.

What foodstuffs can be vacuum packed?

You can safely vacuum pack most food products

  • All kinds of meat (fresh meat, aged meat, sausages, etc)
  • Seafood and fish
  • Dried fruits
  • Vegetables (processed by blanching, drying, or pickling)
  • Ready to eat meals
  • Cheese (Not all cheese can be vacuum packed)
  • Pasta, noodles, etc.
  • Totally dried cereals, corn kernels, peanuts, etc.

What foodstuffs shouldn’t be vacuum packed and why?

1) Vacuum packing is to remove the air in the container, most importantly, remove the oxygen, to inhibite the growth of aerobe bacteria. But some foodstuffs contain anaerobic bacteria, which can grow without the presence of air. Within a vacuum pack, with reduced oxygen, these bacteria will grow and may has a risk to your health.

For example, C. botulinum is a type of dangerous food-borne pathogen that causes botulism, and it doesn’t need air to grow. In fact, without competition from other aerobe bacteria, unsafe vacuum sealing may actually create a more favorable environment for botulism to develop.

2)Many fresh vegetables, fruits and seeds emit a gas when stored, like human breathing. If these products are kept in a vacuum sealed bag, the emited gas will cause them to spoil. To store these products properly, you should blance or dry them first.

So don’t vacuum pack these products:

  • Fresh creals, fresh corn kernels, sunflower seeds, etc
  • raw mushrooms
  • garlic
  • soft cheeses (blue cheese, brie, camembert, ricotta and other soft and unpasteurized cheeses)
  • Any food that are still in hot temperature
  • Any fresh vegetables and fruits that you need them keep fresh for a few more days without freezing storage. The best packaging solution is MAP modified atmosphere packaging.
what can't be vacuum packed

How it looks like a few days after garlic are vacuum packed

Why some vacuum packed food still goes bad

In food industry, we want to make sure every batches of food products to be safe for retailing for very long time. But sometimes, accident happens, some batches of products just go bad after vacuum packing. It will be a complicated task to find out the causes, but before that, checkout the following worth noticing points:

  • Are the products previous procedures completed as designed? Are they cleaned, boiled, dried, or pickled well?
  • Are they sterilized completely after vacuum packing? Check the retort.
  • Check vacuum packing material. Make sure to use high quality packaging pouches and films with high barrier property.
  • Check vacuum packing machines. A good vacuum packing machine always remove almost all air in the packages, make the highest vacuum degree. Once there are any problem with the machine, fix it as soon as possible.
  • Working environment and operators hygiene situation.  Make sure no contamination to the food products.

What’s the shelf life of vacuum packed food

Shelf life of foodstuffs is main concentrated point people care about in home use, retailing market, and wholesale market. Here we have a full list of shelf life of food products without and with vacuum packing, both at room temperature, stored in a refrigerator and storage in the freezer.  If you have further questions about vacuum packing, don’t hestitate to contact us.

Shelf life of vacuum packed meat products

Beef, lamb meat:

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 2-4 days
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 30-40 days
  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 4-6 months
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 24-36 months

Pork:

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 3-7 days
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 14-21 days
  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 4-6 months
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 24-36 months

Ground meat:

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 4 months
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 12 months

Poultry:

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 2-3 days
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 6-9 days
  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 4-6 months
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 24-36 months

Shelf life of vacuum packed fish and seafood

Fish:

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 1-3 days
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 4-5 days
  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 3-6 months
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 24 months

Lobster, Shrimp:

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 6-12 months
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 12-24 months

Crab:

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 2 months
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 8-12 months

Shelf life of vacuum packed Cheese

Hard cheese

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 15-20 days
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 40-60 days
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 4-8 months

Soft cheese

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 5-7 days
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 13-15 days
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 4-8 months

Shelf life of vacuum packed vegetables and fruits

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 3-7 days
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 10-25 days
  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 6-12 months
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 24-36 months

Shelf life of bakeries, bread and pastries, pasta

Bread and cookies

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in room temperature : 2-3 days
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in room temperature: 7-10 days
  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 2-3 months
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in freezer (under -18 °C) : 12-36 months

Cooked pasta

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 2-3 days
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in refrigerator (+5/ -2 °C) : 8-12 days

Shelf life of dry beans, cereals

  • Shelf life not vacuum packed, storage in room temperature : 6-12 months
  • Shelf life vacuum packed, storage in room temperature: 12-24 months
Rice vacuum packing machine

Vacuum packed rice has a shelf life of 12-24 months

Vacuum packing facilities

Vacuum packing machines

Vacuum packing machines are machines that can empty air of containers and seal the containers to keep the vacuum status.

Generally, as we’ve mentioned in the previous content, there are 3 types of vacuum packing machines,

  • External vacuum sealer
  • Chamber vacuum sealer
  • Thermoforming vacuum packing machine

In the category of external vacuum sealer, home use table top vacuum sealer is very popular in home kitchen daily use. There are a few world famous brand of tabletop vacuum sealers, for example FoodSaver, you can also source online for cost effective alternatives from China factories, the quality of China made tabletop vacuum sealers are very good too.

table top vacuum sealer

A tabletop vacuum sealer

Besides tabletop vacuum sealer for home kitchen use, there are vacuum packing machines for food industry purpose, that are with greater output capacity to accomplish the requirements of food shops, supermarkets, food processing factories, etc.

belt type continuous vacuum packing machine dz1000/2s

Belt type chamber vacuum sealer for industrial grade food production

Vacuum packing materials

Other than vacuum packing machines, you also need materials for vacuum packing, including plastic pouches and thermoforming plastic films.

Plastic pouches: For vacuum sealing by external vacuum sealer, and chamber vacuum sealer;

Plastic films: Thermoforming plastic films are made specially for thermoforming vacuum packaging machines, printed or un-printed.

The air permeability and moisture permeability of plastic packaging materials change with the influence of factors such as polymer molecular structure, film thickness, temperature and humidity.

After the vacuum packaging is affected by the storage environment, the oxygen content in the packaging container or the concentration of each component of the mixed gas will change. The principle of selecting packaging materials is to reduce the impact of the atmospheric environment and obtain the longest shelf life.

  • Vacuum packaging bags must have high barrier properties
  • Fat oich food requires plastic bags and plastic films with high oxygen barrier and oil barrier
  • Dry food requires high moisture resistance of plastic bags and plastic films;
  • In addition, it must have high tensile strength, tear resistance, impact resistance, good chemical stability, and no chemical reaction with the food inside;
  • In addition, high temperature resistance to meet the requirements of high temperature disinfection and low temperature storage of various products.
  • Therefore, when choosing plastic bags and plastic films, we also need to make the correct choice based on product characteristics. Only in this way can the quality of vacuum packaging be guaranteed.

So this is a brief introduction to vacuum packing and related knowledges. If  you have any other questions,  feel free to contact me.