Food packaging is packaging for food. A package provides protection, tampering resistance, and special physical, chemical, or biological needs. It may bear a nutrition facts label and other information about food being offered for sale.
Packaging of food products have seen a vast transformation in technology usage and application from the stone age to the industrial revolution:
7000 BC: The adoption of pottery and glass which saw industrialization around 1500 BC 
1800: Nicolas Appert, in response to inquires into extending the shelf life of food for the French Army, employed glass bottles along with thermal food treatment. Glass has since been replaced by metal cans in this application
1870: The use of paper board was launched and corrugated materials patented
1880s: First cereal packaged in a folding box by Quaker Oats
1890s: The crown cap for glass bottles was patented by William Painter 
1960s: Development of the two-piece drawn and wall-ironed metal cans in the US, along with the ring-pull opener and the Tetra Brik Aseptic carton package
1970s: The barcode system was introduced in the retail and manufacturing industry. PET plastic blow-mold bottle technology widely used in the beverage industry was introduced
1990s: The application of digital printing on food packages became widely adopted
Plastic packaging saw its inaugural use during World War II even though materials employed in its manufacturing, such as cellulose nitrate, styrene and vinyl chloride, were discovered in the 1800s
Packaging and package labeling have several objectives
The above materials are fashioned into different types of food packages and containers such as:
|Aseptic processing||Primary||Liquid whole eggs or dairy products|
|Trays||Primary||Portion of fish or meat|
|Bags||Primary||Potato chips, apples, rice|
|Boxes||Secondary||Corrugated box of primary packages: box of cereal cartons, frozen pizzas|
|Cans||Primary||Can of tomato soup|
|Cartons, coated paper||Primary||Carton of eggs, milk or juice cartons|
|Flexible packaging||Primary||Bagged salad|
|Pallets||Tertiary||A series of boxes on a single pallet used to transport from the manufacturing plant to a distribution center|
|Wrappers||Tertiary||Used to wrap the boxes on the pallet for transport|
Primary packaging is the main package that holds the food that is being processed. Secondary packaging combines the primary packages into one box being made. Tertiary packaging combines all of the secondary packages into one pallet.
A choice of packaging machinery requires consideration of technical capabilities, labor requirements, worker safety, maintainability, serviceability, reliability, ability to integrate into the packaging line, capital cost, floorspace, flexibility (change-over, materials, etc.), energy usage, quality of outgoing packages, qualifications (for food, pharmaceuticals, etc.), throughput, efficiency, productivity, and ergonomics, at a minimum.
Packaging machines may be of the following general types:
Reduced packaging and sustainable packaging are becoming more frequent. The motivations can be government regulations, consumer pressure, retailer pressure, and cost control. Reduced packaging often saves packaging costs.
In the UK, a Local Government Association survey produced by the British Market Research Bureau compared a range of outlets to buy 29 common food items and found that small local retailers and market traders "produced less packaging and more that could be recycled than the larger supermarkets."
Main article: Recycling § Rinsing
After use, organic matter that is still in the food packaging needs to be separated from the packaging. This may also require rinsing of the food packaging.
Food packaging is created through the use of a wide variety of plastics and metals, papers, and glass materials. Recycling these products differs from the act of literally reusing them in the manner that the recycling process has its own algorithm which includes collecting, sourcing, processing, manufacturing and marketing these products. According to the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States the recycling rate has been steadily on the rise with data reporting that in 2005 40% of the food packaging and containers that were created were recycled.
Main article: Active packaging
Main article: Food safety
It is critical to maintain food safety during processing , packaging, storage, logistics (including cold chain), sale, and use. Conformance to applicable regulations is mandatory. Some are country specific such as the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture; others are regional such as the European Food Safety Authority. Certification programs such as the Global Food Safety Initiative are sometimes used. Food packaging considerations may include: use of hazard analysis and critical control points, verification and validation protocols, Good manufacturing practices, use of an effective quality management system, track and trace systems, and requirements for label content. Special food contact materials are used when the package is in direct contact with the food product. Depending on the packaging operation and the food, packaging machinery often needs specified daily wash-down and cleaning procedures.
Health risks of materials and chemicals used in food packaging need to be carefully controlled. Carcinogens, toxic chemicals, mutagens etc. need to be eliminated from food contact and potential migration into foods. Besides these, the consumers need to be aware of certain chemical products that are packaged exactly like food products to attract them. Most of them have pictures of fruits and the containers also resemble food packages. However, they can get consumed by kids or careless adults which can lead to poisoning.
Packaging lines may have a variety of equipment types: integration of automated systems can be a challenge. All aspects of food production, including packaging, are tightly controlled and have regulatory requirements. Uniformity, cleanliness and other requirements are needed to maintain Good Manufacturing Practices.
Product safety management is vital. A complete Quality Management System must be in place. Hazard analysis and critical control points is one methodology which has been proven useful. Verification and validation involves collecting documentary evidence of all aspects of compliance. Quality assurance extends beyond the packaging operations through distribution and cold chain management.