In a detailed review published on May 15, 2018 in the peer-reviewed journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Jia-Wei Han and colleagues from the National Engineering Research Center for Information Technology in Agriculture, Beijing, China, review state-of-the-art and future trends in food packaging, focusing on “active, intelligent, and green packaging technologies.”
The scientists review intelligent or smart packaging (IOSP) capable of monitoring the condition of food or its environment, such as time-temperature indicators (TTIs), radiofrequency identification (RFID) tags, and direct indicators (e.g. with colors), as well as active packaging (AP) aimed at improving food quality and shelf-life, such as moisture absorbers, carbon dioxide scavengers or absorbers, packaging emitting carbon dioxide, antioxidant packaging, and antimicrobial packaging. They further discuss sustainable or green packaging (SOGP) and suggest that “future developments in food packaging should be directed towards the ‘ultimate’ packaging, which will combine all of the benefits of IOSP, AP, and SOGP.”
As safety concerns of the innovative packaging, the authors mention “the migration of active and intelligent substances, accidental leakage of active components from a sachet, and human ingestion of active and intelligent substances,” but do not discuss these issues further.
Han and colleagues also compile timelines of commercialized AP solutions, with the earliest product mentioned being a moisture absorber offered on the market in 1977. Other AP products were broadly introduced later, while IOSP commercialization seems to start catching up just recently. In an article published on July 18, 2018 by Confectionery News, Jenny Eagle reported about a market study carried out by the consultancy Prescouter to identify smart packaging solutions that are commercially available in 2018. The resulting report identifies 11 companies that offer smart packaging products based on four main technologies, namely (1) barcodes and QR codes, (2) smart indicators/pigments/inks, (3) augmented reality, and (4) sensors/printed electronics.
Jenny Eagle (July 18, 2018). “ ‘Which smart packaging technologies are readily available in 2018.’ ”
Han, J.-W., et al. (2018). “Food packaging: A comprehensive review and future trends.” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Technology 17: 860-877.
Prescouter (July 2018). “What companies are offering commercially available solutions in the smart packaging domain?” (pdf)