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Aroma-measuring device for packaging developed

25-Oct-2004

A unique measuring device capable of measuring how much aroma is penetrating a material is being developed at Iggesund Paperboard's laboratory for sensory and chemical analyses in Strömsbruk, Sweden.

The development could revolutionise food packaging. How well sealed a packaging material and how much aroma is let out - or in - can determine how much flavouring needs to be added to a food which is to be packaged, or how the contents of packaging are affected by being stored in various environments.

"Traditionally people have mostly looked only at how oxygen, water and carbon dioxide act in combination with different packaging materials, but now we can measure practically all aromas if they are available in a solid or liquid form," explains Gunnar Forsgren, technical manager at the lab.

"We can also measure the effect of four different aromas at the same time."

Forsgren predicts that the method will be extremely useful to Iggesund's specialists at Ströms Bruk, who are developing coated paperboard for different purposes.

Paperboard from Iggesund Paperboard is used to package sensitive products such as food and confectionery products. Like other packaging materials, paperboard affects the smell and taste of the products by both giving off and absorbing aromas.

This effect need not be negative. Taints and odours that come from packaging can have a positive effect, rather as storage in wooden barrels is used to add flavour to wine and whisky.

There are examples of foodstuffs that have changed in flavour when the packaging manufacturer changed printing inks, materials or their composition. That is why it is important that a supplier of packaging materials can guarantee stable properties over time.

"The new equipment is particularly valuable if one wants to optimise the odour and taste properties of food packaging," said Forsgren. "It is now possible to study in detail exactly what effect a given combination of aromas has on paperboard material with different coatings - and that will result in a better basis for decision making.

"In all honesty, I have to say that there is a great deal of belief but not much knowledge when it comes to just how various aromas behave in these materials. And that is primarily because there have not been good measuring methods."

The laboratory for sensory and chemical analyses is a resource within Iggesund Paperboard that is used both for in-house quality control and on behalf of external customers. The laboratory is accredited for sensory analyses, which means that a Swedish government agency, the Swedish Board for Technical Accreditation, (SWEDAC), supervises the laboratory's work and guarantees its quality.

In turn, this means that the measurements are accepted by the majority of the world's countries. Iggesund Paperboard is the only European paperboard manufacturer to have such an in-house resource.

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