Glossary of terms

Active packaging:

‘Packaging in which subsidiary constituents have been deliberately included in or on either the packaging material or the package headspace to enhance the performance of the package system’ (Robertson, 2006).

Challenge testing:

Deliberate inoculation of product with relevant microorganisms that have the potential to survive or grow within the product during normal storage conditions (challenge tests can allow the risk of food poisoning to be evaluated if contamination occurred).

Humectant:

A substance such as a food additive, used to reduce the loss of moisture.

MAP - Modified Atmosphere Packaging:

Altering the natural percentages of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide within a food package with the aim of extending the life of a food.

Organoleptic:

The taste, smell, appearance and texture of the food.

Secondary or Open life:

The period of time during which a food will remain safe and of a suitable quality for consumption after the primary product packaging has been opened.

Shelf life:

The period of time during which a food will remain safe and of a suitable quality for consumption while stored as instructed and in any unopened packaging within which it was supplied3.

Shelf-life studies:

Assessment of the growth of microorganisms likely to be present in, or able to cross contaminate, a batch of product.

Vacuum packaging:

Product is placed into a strong pouch from which all the air is removed under vacuum before it is sealed. The removal of the oxygen present in the air prevents many food poisoning bacteria and spoilage organisms from growing and stops 'aerobic' reactions that could lead to off taints or colours. However, the lack of oxygen may stimulate the growth of the potent pathogen, Clostridium botulinum, and this needs to be considered in any anaerobic pack.


3This is defined in Article 2(f) of Commission Regulation (EC) 2073/2005 on Microbiological Criteria for Foodstuffs as amended


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Last reviewed: 27 Nov 2017