VIS-traject: OptiBarrier

Over- vs. underpackaging: what is the optimal barrier for the packaging of your food products?

Main applicant: Pack4Food
Duration: oct. 2015 - sept. 2019
Research partners: LFMFP (UGent), nutriFOODchem ( UGent), CPMT ( UGent), LLT ( KU Leuven), BVI, Verpakkingscentrum ( UHasselt)

optibarrier logos

"OptiBarrier" is a VIS-trajectory that has started on 1st of October 2015. A VIS-trajectory is a IWT Subsidized Flemish Innovation Partnership which aims to deal with specific challenges of a group of companies through innovation . A VIS-trajectory focuses primarily on Flemish companies, but is also open to collaboration with companies outside Flanders. OptiBarrier consists of three specific research work packages on the central issue: over- vs. underpackaging, supported by two extensive work packages dealing with dissemination and implementation of the results within the participating companies.


Research projects in close collaboration with companies

In the first part of the OptiBarrier project, a review of the role of packaging as gas barrier is done. Often, foodstuffs are packed under modified atmosphere (MAP), but with a barrier which is often way larger than the necessary for the desired shelf life. On the other hand, there are foods that when provided with a higher oxygen barrier would have a longer shelf life. This work package will look at the gas barrier of mono- vs. multi-layer materials, and it will also evaluate the impact of the thickness of barrier layers. The effect of storage temperature will be also evaluated. Unlike previously done, in OPTIBARRIER project foods instead of simulants will be used (e.g. cooked ham, cheese, ready-to-eat meals, ...). This has the advantage of providing results which are immediately implementable by the participating companies.

The second part of the OptiBarrier project will review the role of packaging as light barrier. Many food products are sensitive to light, especially when there is still residual oxygen present. Obviously, there is a great interaction with the previous work package on gas barrier. In this work package, the effect of the type of light (UV - visible), the intensity of the light and the type of packaging material on the quality of different foodstuffs will be studied. Foods with different light-sensitive components will be investigated (pâté, cooked ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, ...). This work package focuses especially on the evaluation of the interaction between the dynamic O2 concentration and the type / intensity of the light which will lead to concrete implementable knowledge for the participating companies facilitating their choice of the optimal packaging concept for foods where discoloration and oxidation is an issue.

The third part of the OptiBarrier project will review the role of a functional barrier against migration of, among others, mineral oils and ink components from packaging into food. In this work package the main migrant components will be identified and the efficiency of different barrier layers and coatings against these migrants are evaluated. Various functional barrier strategies will be developed and evaluated. The aim of this work package is to provide companies with implementable information regarding specific effective functional barriers against specific migrants.

Practical implementation by the companies

The results of these three research work packages, but also other questions from participating companies regarding design and sustainability of packaging materials and how to combine this with the necessary functionality, will be presented in an accessible manner to the participating companies. This will be done through various channels such as the website, seminars, users group meetings and company visits.

In addition, it is envisaged that the results obtained during this project to be implemented within the participating companies. Various options are offered here, such as innovation advising, company visits, case studies within different research work packages, or parallel SME- and Sprint projects. This way, Pack4Food wants to implement this project in the most optimal way within your company.

Companies can participate by OptiBarrier by joining the users group. For this a annual membership fee is paid, which depends on the company’s turnover (see table). Further, participating companies have access to the advising service of Pack4Food. This service was launched in October 2005 and aims to give companies support on innovation in various aspects of packaging: barrier packaging, MAP applications, active and intelligent packaging, bio-plastics, recycled packaging materials, migration, heat resistance... In addition to these advising services, the participating companies are kept informed of new developments in packaging area by supplying with publications, reports of conferences, trainings... Finally, Pack4Food has a networking function that brings together various stakeholders within the food packaging chain. The current members of Pack4Food can be found here.


For more information on OptiBarrier project and joining the user group, please contact Peter Ragaert (; 09/264 99 30)

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