Packaging of Ghee and Butter Oil

i. Packaging Requirements

While selecting the packaging material for ghee, it should be carefully observed that
  • the material does not react with ghee
  •  it is non-toxic and non-tainting
  •  easily available at low cost
  •  should have good resistance to rough handling
  •  does not allow tempering of ghee, and
  •  it prevents or delay spoilage of ghee.

With a view to select suitable packages for ghee, it is essential to know the method of handling, nature of spoilage, storage conditions and consumers’ requirements/choices. Ghee is prepared at a temperature of around 110oC at which most of the microorganisms and enzymes (lipase in particular) are eliminated and moisture content is left less than 0.5%; hence there is no microbial spoilage of ghee during storage. However, upon prolonged storage, ghee and butter oil undergo lipid deterioration resulting into either hydrolytic rancidity or oxidative rancidity defects.

The selection of right type of packaging material can play a vital role in delaying the onset of these defects in ghee. The packaging materials being used for ghee and butter oil and that having great potential are discussed here.


ii. Packaging Materials

Tin plate containers: Majority of dairies in public as well as private sector are using lacquered or even un-lacquered tin cans of different sizes (250g to 15 kgs) for bulk and retail packaging of ghee. Some dairies sell loose ghee to local consumers through their sale depots or stores, where the possibilities of adulteration are fairly high. The advantages of using tin cans are manifold:
They protect the product against tampering.Being sturdy, they can be transported to distant places without much damage and wastage during transport.

The oxygen content in ghee can be reduced in case of tin cans by either hot filling or minimizing the headspace thereby preventing/delaying the oxidized flavour defects.Ghee packaged in tin cans normally has better developed grains.The only draw back of tin cans is their high cost and involvement of foreign exchange.It is very essential that tin cans be properly lacquered because rusted cans are liable to accelerate the lipid deterioration. BIS specifications for different sizes of tin plate containers are available for packaging of ghee.

Glass bottles: Though glass bottles provide excellent protection, they do not react with the food material and can be used for high-speed operations, but are not in much use for bulk or large size packaging of ghee because of their fragility and high weight. Since ghee is a expensive commodity and all consumers can not afford to buy large size packs, some of the ghee producers have started packaging ghee in glass bottles for retailers in sizes of 100g to 500g.

Semi-rigid containers: Of late, semi-rigid plastic containers are replacing tin plate containers. These are mainly made from high density polyethylene (HDPE). The advantages of using these containers are a) they provide a moderately long shelf life (not as long as tin cans), 2) are lightweight, economical and transport-worthy.These are of several types viz., blow moulded HDPE (high density polyethylene),PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles, PVC (poly vinyl chloride) bottles, and recently introduced bag-in-box systems, lines cartons and tetra packs. Blow moulded HDPE are, available in form of bottles (200, 400g), jars (1 kg and 2 kg), and jerry cans (2kg, 5 kg, and 15 kg). PET bottles have excellent clarity, are odour free and have gas barrier properties. All these semi-rigid containers have good scope for packaging of ghee and butter oil.

Flexible films/pouches: Flexible pouch may be made from laminates or multi layer films of different composition. The pouch may be in the form of pillow pouch or as stand-up pouches. Limited quantities of ghee are today packed in flexible pouches upto 1 kg. The most attractive feature of packaging ghee in flexible pouches is that they are cheapest than any other packaging system. The selection of laminate or a multi layer film is governed primarily by the compatibility of the contact layer,heat-sealing ability and heat-seal strength and shelf life required. The indigenously available flexible materials, which have very good values for the above, mentioned properties are HDPE, polypropelene, Al foil, Nylon 6, PVC, Saran, Polyester and numerous laminates of flexible films. Sachets made from a laminate of PVDC/ PVC Al foil/PP (polyvinyliedene chloride/aluminium foil/polypropylene) are suitable for long-term storage of butter oil and ghee.


iii. Filling and Sealing

While filling ghee and butter oil utmost care is taken to reduce the oxygen content in it. This can be achieved by

a) Filling containers up to brim, i.e. with minimum headspace.
b) Hot filling of ghee (preferably at 60oC) reduces the level of dissolved oxygen
by its continuous expulsion.
c) Application of vacuum packaging wherever possible or packaging in an inert atmosphere.

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