After the slicing process, the product is no longer protected by the casing (dry fermented sausages) or by the food manufacturing process (dry-cured ham). The exposure surface of the product to the environment is largely increased and subsequently, rehydration, dehydration, and oxidation significantly decrease shelf life. Plastic packaging becomes essential to delay these processes. In general, the sliced product will exchange water with the environment at a faster rate, resulting in detrimental changes. Similarly, the unfavorable effect of oxygen will be enhanced. Therefore, the requirements for packaging materials and packaging technologies are high water vapor barrier, high barrier to oxygen, and reduced headspace, or headspace composition with low oxygen levels. Among the available packaging technologies, vacuum packaging and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) are traditionally used for the preservation of sliced fermented and cured meat products. Present and future trends include the use of active and intelligent packaging.
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