Oxygen scavengers or oxygen absorbers are added to enclose packaging to help remove or decrease the level of oxygen in the package.
They are used to help maintain the product safety and extend shelf life. There are many types of oxygen absorbers available to cover a wide array of applications.
Oxygen absorbers have an important role in the removal of dissolved oxygen, preserving the color, texture and aroma of different food products and pharmaceuticals. Active packaging technology in food preservation has improved over decades mostly due to the sealing of foods in oxygen impermeable package material and the quality of oxygen absorbers used in packaging.
Moisture is often a catalyst for oxidative degradation which is one of the most common modes of degradation addressed by formulators to protect a drug.
Why oxygen absorbers have become so much more important when it comes to protecting the pharmaceuticals:
- Manufacturers are practicing cost optimization in drug manufacturing and distribution as the demand for longer shelf life has grown.
- Class II and IV- A higher proportion of molecules in the drug pipeline belong to these classes. These classes are more sensitive towards oxygen and degrade faster in its presence.
- Stringent measures as designed by US FDA for the maintenance of potency and shelf-life of drug molecules.
The presence of oxygen reduces the shelf life of food and pharmaceutical products and causes deterioration of the product. Oxygen absorbers perform their action though a chemical reaction process. All absorber packets should be used within 15-30 minutes for an extra margin of safety after opening the package.
Advantages of oxygen absorbers:
- Extend the shelf life of products
- Prevent oxidation of spice oleoresins present in spices themselves and in seasoned foods
- Prevent food damage from infestation of insects
- Inhibit growth of aerobic pathogens such as: molds, mildew and bacteria.
- Significantly improve keeping qualities of polyunsaturated fats and oils
- Delay the discoloration in foods
- Eliminate the need for additives such as sulfur dioxide, BHA, BHT, sorbates etc.
- Foods are not crushed or squeezed
- Prevent oxidation of vitamins A, C and E
- Help retain fresh-roasted flavor of coffee and nuts
Guide to choose appropriate size (‘cc’) of oxygen absorber for your industry. It depends on following parameters:
- The volume of the packaging container.
- The altitude & dimension of the packaging.
- Require the packaging container – box or bags, tablet/ capsule bottle
- The density of food item/ medicine you are packaging. The packaging type will decide what size of oxygen absorber fits your packaging.
- The number of packaging materials.
- Void space of the container.