Have you ever struggled to open food packaging - perhaps a jam jar lid that just won’t budge, a plastic cereal bag that spills contents whenever you open it, or a slippery peel-back corner on the ham pack that prematurely tears off before you get the pack open? Or have you ever opened a food pack to find there’s more packaging and air than actual food?
We’re looking for specific examples of problematic food packaging for:
a) accessibility, and
b) being deceptive/excessive
Tell us which food brands/products you’d nominate, and why.
My two current bugbears are 1) the inner plastic pack of corn flakes, which when you pull apart from opposing sides doesn’t seem to neatly separate along the top, but instead rips in awkward spots so cereal spills into the box and 2) the half moon tab on the top of some milk bottles (under the screwtop lid) which often require some strength to open and often result in spilt milk when I’m doing it!
The ones I find the most annoying are the plastic bags of prunes, dog kibble, etc, which have a tear line across the top with a small slit on either side.
Sometimes they tear completely unevenly and even damage the resealable seal but mostly they do not tear at all, requiring the use of scissors to cut across the dotted line.
Then to add insult to injury, they often will still not open, thus requiring a second, and sometimes a third cut with the scissors.
Another bugbear is Leggos Stir Through Pasta sauce bottles which have a taper on the side of the metal lid.
They are sometimes too well sealed to undo by hand and the metal jar opener we have cannot get a grip on the tapered edge.
A bang or two on the side generally loosens the lids up.
Of course, many years ago, it was the sardine tins which required the opener which was soldered to the base of the can, but the tab would often simply break off.
The clip seal bags which will not reseal properly after being opened.
The most idiotic of all, the “resealable” bags for frozen products like Inghams Buffalo Wings.
Even if one manages to actually achieve the incredible feat of opening a pack without destroying one or both ends of the clip seal, one has more chance of winning Lotto that ever successfully getting it to reseal, thus requiring the use of a rubber band.
Ah yes, that reminds me of the old-style ring pull openers they used to have on the top of soft drink cans. The number of times they used to just break off so you’d end up having to puncture the seal with a can opener
The metal cap ring pulls on Bundaberg Ginger Beer bottles might be one to consider. They can be really hard to get started and sometimes jam after a short distance before the lip is clear. Outcome is the ring pull parts company with the cap. It then needs careful use of a metal tool ensuring no glass is splintered in the action. It might be poor technique through lack of practice.
Tinned food with ring-pull openers, for example chopped tomatoes. No matter how careful I am about 1/3 of the time the ring breaks off the disk on the lid that it is supposed to pull off and so I have to use a can opener anyway. If you are going to the trouble and expense of adding this kind of opener you should go a little further and design the thing to work.
One that causes angst is the tops on UHT/Lactose free 1L milk boxes. Some have screw lids with a pull tab underneath that. Sometimes the pull tab breaks off, and the box must be pierced, or if the pull tab works and opens the box, oft there is clear plastic remnants partially blocking off the opening. Those boxes are a pain to pour evenly from anyway, and when there is plastic obstructing the whole, it blocks the milk from coming out evenly.
A pet food packaging hate is the Aldi sultanas packet. It has a zip lock track for sealing it up after you have managed to access the contents. The trouble is that the zip lock generally does not go near to the edges of the packet meaning you have a 90% seal and claustrophobic sultanas can flee the confines of their imprisonment through the two outside edges. This necessitates the top of the bag being rolled down and secured with a rubber band or some other machivelian device. So what then is the point of the zip lock?
Mine is modified atmosphere meat packs in the supermarket where the plastic film is heat welded to the underlying plastic container. There isn’t any tabs to assist in removing the plastic film. It is impossible to break with ones finger or try and lift the edge to pull of the film.
The only way in is with a sharp objects like a knife.
I’ll submit Woolies new ‘less plastic’ meat packaging.
From a press release: The redesigned packaging - made up of a paper tray and fresh seal film - now uses 75 per cent less plastic than the previous packaging and will eliminate 2.2 tonnes of plastic from the supply chain each year across seven popular beef cuts. Unlike some meat trays, customers can recycle the new paper trays in their curbside recycling bin by simply peeling back the vacuum films used to seal the meat in fresh. The film covering and lining the trays can also be recycled through the REDcycle bins located at every Woolworths store, along with any other household soft plastics.
It is recyclable IF one can separate the plastic from the cardboard without essentially shredding the cardboard into smallish pieces. I have yet to manage more than that. Add insult, doing even a basic rinse of the plastic film for hygienic reasons is difficult.
It is a good idea with a questionable implementation.
Have to totally agree with you syncretic I am in the same situation. Every time I use a ring-pull tin opener it always breaks off in my hand and I am left with an unopened tin and need to use a manual can opener. Not only is it totally frustrating and annoying, but wastes time in the kitchen having to try and source a can opener. One of my pet peeves!
Wow, I’ve literally never had that happen?
Are you lifting the ring straight up until the can pops & then pull it up & back away from the opening? The part I’m starting to have a little difficulty with is getting under the ring in the first place so I use the handle of a fork or spoon to lift it.
The packaging I can’t fathom are those boxed (usually frozen) products where it appear that you should open 3, glued, side flaps to create a hinged lid? If you do then all 3 sides are independent without any method of closing any of them securely. If you open any single one then you have to rip the inner box section again without any way of closing them without rubber bands. You can’t really throw the box away & place the rest of the contents in another package like a vacuum sealer bag as you’ll need to keep the instructions for cooking/heating, you know the ones in an insufferably small font in an indistinguishable font/background colour combination.
Flat film-covered packs of cold meats/cheese with one corner different from the other three which LOOKS as though you should be able to lift it and peel it back, but which in fact is as firmly sealed down as the rest. I swear they just put that one there just to taunt us.
Some cardboard milk cartons which don’t open cleanly and just tear, so that every time you pour milk it dribbles out and leaves a puddle in the fridge.
Some other cardboard milk cartons with an irritating and unnecessary plastic spout in the side.
Boxes of stock where you need to tear or cut the corner to pour - I never manage to open it in just the right place and when it’s tipped up to pour it either glugs or dribbles out.
The tiny packs of wasabi and pickled ginger that come with sushi that are marked ‘tear here’ and are slightly greasy from the sushi so that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to do just that - grrrrrrrrr.