Food packaging should be done in the best way possible in order to protect a company’s brand and maintain the quality of food products. It is therefore important for companies to adopt the best leak testing methods and use the best leak detection equipment. Leak testing is a necessary procedure in a packaging process to ensure that products do not leak or exposed to any form of contamination. A leaking packaging material allows foreign materials, moisture, or oxygen to leak in and compromise the product integrity. Companies that deal with food processing or specialize in packaging, are expected to make the highest quality of closures, seams, and seals.
The testing can be done on empty packaging material or those with contents. Food processing companies invest a lot of resources in leak detection to avoid losses associated with recalls. It is easy for food processing companies to prevent recalls as they only need to acquire the best leak detection equipment and test their packages before they are released to the market. Some of the most notable food packages that are normally tested for leakages include; coffee cans, plastic fruit jars, ketchup bottles, plastic pea nut butter jars, edible food containers, and microwavable soup containers. The following are the four major leak detection methods for food packaging:
1. Bubble Emission Leak Test Procedure
This is the most suitable leak detection method for food packages that have some amount of gas or air. In this method, a vacuum is drawn on a closed package that is completely submerged in water. The package is said to be faulty or compromised if air bubbles appear. It is possible to identify the exact location of a leak by observing where the air bubbles are propagated. It is always difficult to fix any leakage if the detection method does not give a visual location of the faulty place. This method is normally used to locate a bust point on the seal or determine a trend in diminishing seal integrity. It is vital to determine cases of diminishing seal integrity as soon as possible in order to make the necessary adjustments before an actual leakage occurs. Regular bubble emission tests are a standard procedure in most food processing companies. Bust points can be tracked during production as a precautionary measure to guarantee maximum seal integrity.
2. Seal Integrity Test for Vacuum Packages
Packages with vacuumed seals are normally tested using this method. In this case, the usual bubble emission procedure is normally done using a small attachment on the package that is being tested.
3. Dry Chamber Flexible Package Testing
This leak testing method is suitable for packages with liquid contents and little headspace. To begin with, a dry chamber containing the package that is being tested is placed on an absorbent type material. The next step is to draw a vacuum based on operator specifications. The package seal is considered to be faulty if the absorbent type material becomes wet. The most common absorbent material for this type of test is a paper towel. Packages containing air have to be tested in a dry chamber to ensure that the seal integrity is completely protected.
4. Altitude Simulation Seal integrity Method
Food products that are supposed to be transported in varying altitude levels must go through the altitude simulation seal integrity test to prevent problems that might occur during transportation. Traveling across mountain ranges or by air is normally characterized by varying altitude levels. Extremes in altitude levels are normally reported during takeoff or landing and such conditions can affect seal integrity if proper measures are not taken. The contents of a package determine whether an altitude test can be conducted in a wet or dry chamber. A vacuum versus attitude simulation chart is then used for referencing.