Saving us time and money, extending the life of food, and avoiding small accidents in the home. Packaging can make our life easier in many ways. Some of the latest original ideas are currently on show at IPACK-IMA, one of the leading trade fairs in the world for food and non-food process and packaging technologies, which is taking place at the Milan Trade Fair Centre (Fiera Milano).
How many times have you found yourself at the coffee bar unable to use both hands to open a packet of sweetener or honey to pour into your cappuccino? Here’s the solution, which is simple but ingenious: a packet with a small slit down the middle that can be opened simply by pressing two fingers. Speaking of “smart” openings, IPACK-IMA has unveiled a new type of food covering that fits like a second skin over, for example, a chicken. The covering film acts as a barrier to liquids, keeps in all odors, and yet, thanks to the strategic placement of two indentations, can be easily opened by your finger and thumb.
Some inventors have even come up with a way of letting you dole out the right amount of a product without getting your fingers dirty, using, for example, a practical container that comes complete with a hollow-handled teaspoon. Just insert the spoon into the neck of the container, press, and the coffee creamer, fruit mousse or vegetable smoothie for the baby will be squeezed onto the spoon. Older children who drink fruit juice, chocolate milk or other drinks from the carton can dispense with the spoon but may enjoy the cap, a collectible item that transforms itself into a game. It's specially-shaped edges click together with other caps and can be used to build up construction stacks. Also unveiled at the fair was what promises to be an excellent invention for the visually impaired: a can equipped with a microchip and mini-speaker inserted into the label that "speaks". Just touch the label, and the recording, which can be up to four minutes long, will describe the origin, type of product, characteristics, expiration date and so on.
To keep up with our new pace of life, an alternative has been invented to the traditional plastic trays for the storage of cold cuts, which once opened cannot be closed again to keep the product fresh. The answer to this is a new type of container (for, say, salami) in the form of a CD sleeve, in which the slices are stacked one on top of the other but can easily be peeled off when they are ready to use. What are the benefits? The sleeve perfectly fits around the content and thus improves its preservation because the amount of empty inside space, and therefore air, is reduced, and, most importantly, the packaging is perfectly re-sealable. Long-life conservation is increasingly important, as much for the preservation of taste as for questions of cost and the environment. Here are two other ideas: add antimicrobial agents to strawberry punnets or additives that kill bacteria to the cardboard boxes used for apples and pears. Their use slows down the ripening, prevents the formation of mold, maintains the color, aroma, texture and flavor of the fruit and doubles its life on the supermarket shelf.
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