Uflex, one of the world's largest food packaging manufacturers, said it has developed an 'active' packaging material that can double the unrefrigerated shelf life of food items such as sandwiches.\r\n\r\n"The special properties of the FDA approved packaging material keep the pouch active by scavenging microbial growth thereby enhancing the shelf life of the Cooked food packed inside," it said.\r\n\r\nThe company said that it was able to store a sandwich at room temperature for 8-9 days using the new material.\r\n\r\n"The litmus test of this anti-microbial pouch is for bread because of its active yeast.. Bread has active yeast therefore the real challenge for the packaging was to curb the yeast from outgrowing."\r\n\r\nA normal sandwich would go bad in 48 hours. Using existing pouches, the same sandwich can be kept for 3-4 days in room temperature.\r\n\r\nHowever, "the one that was packed in the new flexible packaging material could be kept protected from microbial growth for almost 8-9 days," the company said.\r\n\r\nIt said the material was developed after rigorous R&D of almost two years\r\n\r\n"In this flexible packaging material the Sealant layer is specially compounded with anti-microbial properties," said Jeevaraj Pillai, Joint President, Packaging and New Product Development.\r\n\r\n"In fact, this is an Active Antimicrobial Packaging and is used to actively modify the internal environment by continuous interaction with the food over the stipulated shelf-life," he added.\r\n\r\nActive packaging refers to a system that modifies the environment inside the food package to alter the state of the packaged item system and its headspace to enhance its quality by extension of shelf-life, enhancement of sensory qualities, and the maintenance of microbial safety.\r\n\r\nThe pouch remains dormant till it is empty and swings into action only when it comes in contact with food. \r\n\r\n"We also conducted trials on stuffed Indian bread (known as Paranthas) and the results have been very encouraging," Pillai said.\r\n\r\n"In a tropical weather like we have in India this packaging solution can be very helpful in stopping the growth of fungi and other microbes that spoil food.\r\n\r\n"Trials for other varieties of perishable food products like those With high fat content and for meat and poultry products are on at the moment. We are very hopeful that the results Will be equally stellar."\r\n\r\nThe company said that direct addition of preservatives into food can be reduced by using the new packaging material.\r\n\r\nIt can used to extend the Shelf life of uncooked rice in the retail big bags, Pillai said.\r\n\r\n"We are studying the extent of benefit in terms of shelf life extension to this effect."\r\n\r\nIt can also be incorporated into zip-pouches, he said.\r\n\r\n"While an ordinary two ply Zip-Pouch only protects the food items from the environment to keep the aroma intact or let's say protect it from dust etc. This product will actually Work one step ahead and prevent the food from decay over a defined period of time thereby extending its shelf life even at room temperature."