A Poultry Packaging Summary
If we could do without it, we certainly would! When working with any raw meat, packaging become a necessary evil given that importance placed on food handling and safety. Our options are limited given the different perfromance levels of various materials used for packaging raw meat. With this being said, adhering to the highest possible standards of Poultry farming involves caring for every part of the process.
The Springfield philosophy since the very beginning has been a strong focus on animal welfare and making sure our chickens are as happy as can be. After raising our happy chicks, the next part of the process is to get them to you whilst not jeopardizing the safety of the product.
For years, this has meant using robust packaging to reduce there being any chance of contamination. Plastic has been the go-to in many industries for ensuring the best safeguarding practices are in place for issues of contamination.
Times They are a Changin’
We’ve seen in the news that some people want poultry packaging to adopt a ‘touch-free‘ approach whereby the customer does not have to at any point touch the raw chicken. Of course, everyone here is extremely used to handling raw chicken and given the care we take in preparing and washing the poultry we don’t see the need to go to this extent. Just follow the general kitchen rule and make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly before and after coming into contact with any food products you’re handling.
The more popular move when concerning poultry is making sure that the packaging is the least environmentally damaging as possible. This starts with the packaging directly housing the product, and extends to the insulation, ice-packs, and outer box.
Some plastic is to be expected. But this (for the time-being) is part-and-parcel with keeping the product as fresh as possible for as long as possible without the risks of contamination.
Our aspirations instead come from a viewpoint of reducing packaging, and in particular our packaging which cannot be recycled in a domestic environment. We’d love to be able to use paper or meshing to package our chicken like you can with fruits and vegetables, however from a practical standpoint this is not a possible solution with poultry.
- Trays: We want to make sure that if our trays are to remain plastic, that they are all 100% recyclable. Whilst doing this we are going to consider alternative trays made from plant-based materials which will again be completely recyclable.
- Tray-Wrap: At this current stage, there is not a wide range of recyclable materials which can replace plastic film as an over-wrap. Vac-packing is such a beneficial tool for us, being able to preserve the freshness of our product without including artificial shelf-life extending chemicals. Likewise with vac-pac bags, we want to ensure that these will be accepted by most councils if domestically recycled.
- Soak-Pads: Just to ensure that there’s no unwanted moisture picked up through transportation, soak-pads are necessary and most are able to be recycled as normal.
- Ice-Packs: There are two main types of ice-packs, one which is made of water encased in plastic film, and the other which is gel-based and again enclosed in plastic film. Recycling these may be difficult given that they contain liquid and it isn’t always clear whether the plastic is recyclable. The best way to deal with this is to re-use rather than recycle but we will be pushing to make sure they can be recycled as well.
- Insulation: There’s little point putting ice-packs in a box if there’s no insulation to retain this chilled temperature. People aren’t always home when we deliver but having an insulated box means that the products inside can keep fresh for hours. Our aspirations here are to make a switch from the insulation we currently use which is polystyrene, to a more easily-recycled material. Wool is certainly the craze at the moment and we’re in the process of sampling this among some other options.
- Box: Cardboard certainly does not have as bad of a reputation as plastic does. This is due the that fact that it’s usually a lot more straight forward to recycle. This is one section of our packaging which is unlikely to drastically change but we might move toward something more robust which uses thicker cardboard walls to act as insulation.
- Bags: We don’t include bags with online orders but if you collect from the farm your order may be placed in a plastic bag. There’s no science behind this one, it just makes carrying your chicken easier. Paper bags are difficult given that any moisture (for example from ice-packs) will tarnish the integrity of the bag. One way to combat this is by doing what many of our customers already do which is to bring a bag for life which we can pack your order into.
The Next Steps
Making some of these switches are not straight forward so we will say that nothing is going to change overnight, but this is just to let you know that it’s on our minds. It makes little sense for us to have a premium organic/free range product which incorporates an ethos of caring for the environment which we raise our chicks on, if we do not follow through with this ethos when packaging and delivering our product to you.
Steps in the right direction:
As of the 10th July 2019 we have made a switch to using 100% recyclable boxes with NO MORE POLYSTYRENE!!! That feels incredibly good to say after long periods of testing and searching for the right solution. We’re introducing an EnviroCool box from Hydropac which negates the need for separate insulation given the temperature retention qualities of the thicker corrugated cardboard layer.
Thank you to everyone who has given us feedback already, we hope you’re happy to hear this news as just one of the steps in the right direction we’re planning to take with our packaging!
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