Food Preservation And Protection: A Brief History
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Food Preservation And Protection: A Brief History

Ever wonder who came up with the idea of creating little boxes and jars to put food and drinks in? Or who came up with the concept of the glass and plastic bottle? Well it all started in the 17th century with the advent of tinplate and then through history and advancement, it went on to become the sophisticated packing that we witness so carelessly every day. This article talks about the history of the packaging industry, the aims of packing food and the rise of the companies that now provide packaging services.

In the 1660s, a few Englishmen brought the method of packaging to the Great Britain from Bohemia. This method was perfected and modified in England; it was rudimentary at best. The method used iron plates and rolled them in to flat sheets which were later shaped to form boxes. The material used in this method was tinplate. By the 1700s, the method became so popular that tobacconists began packing tobacco in these metal boxes and thus, the idea spread far and beyond. By the beginning of the next century, the French started research in to food preservation and one of them pioneered the theory that food could be preserved for short time periods if it was stored in a vacuum or without any air. The concept was that the molecules in air oxidized food which caused it go bad after a while.

The Frenchman, Nicholas Appert, who came up with the airtight idea, decided to sell his idea to an Englishman called Peter Durand who then in turn sold the patent to two more fellow Englishmen and hence, they came up with the process of canning food in tin. These Englishmen set up a canning factory and were soon taking orders from the Royal Navy, providing them with canned food. Interestingly enough, before this there was no concept of can openers and soon after this event, Robert Yeates a cutlery maker made the first can opener. Later on, another model of can opener came about, the idea being that the opener opens the metal can flawlessly from the top and is sharp enough.

By 1839, the packaging industry moved its focus from metal to paper and industries were set up that used cartons and paper packaging for storage and preservation purposes. The Scot, Robert Gair, was the first one to invent the pre-cut cardboard boxes. His invention was also a surprise to himself as he realized that by the creating certain creases and indentations in to cardboard, he could makeshift it in to a box. 1844 was the year when the first paper bags were commercial produced and sold. Over time, we learnt better techniques and hence came plastic wrappings and tetra packing. Throughout this entire history, the main focus of packaging was security against external forces, protection from bacteria and preservation of the food item. Now we have proper manufacturers like the numerous packaging companies in Dubai.

As time passed on, packaging’s main focus shifted from protection and preservation to other factors. These factors include information and marketing. Packed items are packed also because it markets the product in an attractive way and it also provides information about the contents of the package. This information could include government issued disclaimers and nutritional information. This is why the job of packaging companies now is not only to manufacture structures but to also design them innovatively. For this reason the popularity of certain packaging companies in Dubai has increased and is leading in the world of the packaging industry.


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