To reward customer loyalty, a food products company wanted to do a special in-pack promotion for a line of its frozen meals. But the coupon had to be oven-proof. Why oven-proof? Because some people need to be protected from themselves. This is why R&D gets the fun assignments.
The exclusive film-paper-film construction ended up being heat-safe rated to 500 degrees F and represents how technology can help creative ideas come to fruition.
The brand owner wanted the coupon affixed to the product itself, not the outside of the unit carton or inserted loose inside the carton. Attaching the coupon to the product packaging, which is actually the cooking tray, proved problematic. The promotional piece needed to be attached to the film layer that covered the food tray. The film cover is oven-safe and the cooking instructions require that it not be removed.
Our charge was to create a special construction that would be oven-safe in the event the consumer forgot to remove the promo piece. The prospect of a fire created a potential liability issue for the brand owner. Yet, they were committed to the in-pack/on-product nature of the promotion.
The auto-ignition point of paper is the temperature at which it will catch fire without being exposed to an external flame. There is no definitive value for this because the auto-ignition temperature of any solid material involves its composition, volume, density, and shape, as well as the time it is exposed to the high temperature.
The cooking instructions for the frozen meals called for a temperature of 350 degrees. But sometimes you have to ask, What if … ?
With a heat-safe rating of 500 degrees F, the film-paper-film construction was designed to account for contingencies such as someone increasing the temperature in hopes of shortening the cooking time, or to account for the required temperature but forgetting about the item and leaving it in the oven too long. In each potential situation, we wanted to be sure to avoid any possibility for a fire.
The material we engineered is suitable for producing coupons and labels for food products that are cooked in conventional ovens, as well as microwave ovens.
WS Packaging now holds a patent for the oven-safe construction. With more than 30 patents and 11 trademarks for specialized materials, constructions, and performance characteristics for primary and promotional labeling, R&D does get some fun and interesting challenges to overcome.
Robert Zietlow, Senior Innovations Engineer