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Publication numberUS20080240628 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/692,025
Publication dateOct 2, 2008
Filing dateMar 27, 2007
Priority dateMar 27, 2007
Also published asUS20130283736
Publication number11692025, 692025, US 2008/0240628 A1, US 2008/240628 A1, US 20080240628 A1, US 20080240628A1, US 2008240628 A1, US 2008240628A1, US-A1-20080240628, US-A1-2008240628, US2008/0240628A1, US2008/240628A1, US20080240628 A1, US20080240628A1, US2008240628 A1, US2008240628A1
InventorsCory Klaiber VanLoocke, Kadir Karul
Original AssigneeVanloocke Cory Klaiber, Kadir Karul
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Reclosable multi-compartment package
US 20080240628 A1
Abstract
A reclosable, multi-compartment package for storing foodstuff separately in at least two compartments which are combined upon opening is disclosed, and methods of use and manufacture thereof. The package also provides for mixing of the separated foodstuff upon opening of the package just prior to use. The opening of the package further includes a reclosable structure. Upon opening the package, the frangible seals are separated thus combining the at least two compartments into one compartment.
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Claims(21)
1. A reclosable food package for a foodstuff comprising:
opposing walls each having first and second edge portions extending between a pair of side edge portions, seals between the side edge portions, the first edge portions and the second edge portions of the opposing walls to at least partially bound a product-receiving cavity between the opposing walls;
a reclosable structure attached to the opposing walls between the second edge portions of the opposing walls and the weakness formed in each of the opposing walls;
a frangible transverse seal between the opposing walls extending between the side edge portions and disposed between the reclosable structure and the second edge portions of the opposing walls; and
a frangible divider seal between the opposing walls and extending from the frangible transverse seal towards the seal between the second edge portions to subdivide the product-receiving cavity into two compartments.
2. The reclosable food package of claim 1, wherein the frangible transverse seal is generally parallel to the first edge portions and is positioned closer to the first edge portions than the second edge portions.
3. The reclosable food package of claim 2, wherein the frangible transverse seal has an undulating edge facing the reclosable structure.
4. The reclosable food package of claim 3, wherein the frangible divider seal is generally perpendicular to the second edge portions and the frangible transverse seal, and terminates at an intersection with the frangible transverse seal, and the second edge portions.
5. The reclosable food package of claim 4, wherein the intersection of the frangible divider seal and the frangible transverse seal is a reduced width portion of the undulating edge.
6. The reclosable food package of claim 1, wherein the seal of at least one of the first and second edge portions is a fold.
7. The reclosable food package of claim 1, wherein the reclosable structure is a zipper that includes two mating portions each attached to a zipper flange, the zipper being attached to the opposing walls via zipper flanges.
8. The reclosable food package of claim 7, wherein the frangible transverse seal is formed between the zipper flanges.
9. The reclosable food package of claim 8, wherein the zipper flanges are joined together and the frangible transverse seal is a weakness formed in one of the zipper flanges or between the zipper flanges.
10. The reclosable food package of claim 9, wherein the strength of each of the frangible transverse seal and the frangible divider seal is less than the strength of each of the seals between the side edge portions, the first edge portions and the second edge portions.
11. The reclosable food package of claim 1, wherein the package further comprises a removable shroud portion of the opposing walls, the removable shroud portion including the seal between the first edge portions of the opposing walls and separable along a weakness formed in each of the opposing walls.
12. The reclosable food package of claim 11, wherein the weakness along which the shroud is removed is a tear line extending between the side seals and positioned closer to the first edge portions than the second edge portions and between the reclosable structure and the frangible transverse seal.
13. The reclosable food package of claim 12, wherein the tear line is generally linear.
14. The reclosable food package of claim 12, wherein the tear line has one or more arcuate or inclined segments.
15. The reclosable food package of claim 1, wherein a farinaceous foodstuff is stored in one of the two compartments and a dairy foodstuff is stored in the other of the two compartments.
16. The reclosable food package of claim 1, wherein the seal at the second edge portion is folds of a gusset.
17. The reclosable food package of claim 16, wherein the frangible divider seal is arcuate and intersects the frangible transverse seal at one end and intersects one of the seals at the side edge portions at a second end.
18. A method of using a flexible package having a pair of separate compartments each containing a different foodstuff, the method comprising:
opening a reclosable zipper to gain access to a frangible transverse seal bounding a mouth portion of each of the compartments;
separating the frangible transverse seal to gain access to each of the compartments; and
separating a frangible divider seal dividing the compartments to permit combination of the different foodstuffs in each of the compartments.
19. The method of claim 18, further comprising removing a shroud of the package to gain access to the reclosable zipper.
20. The method of claim 18, wherein the strength of each of the frangible transverse seal and the frangible divider seal is less than the strength of each of seals between a side edge portions, a first edge portions and a second edge portions that make up a perimeter of the package.
21. A method of forming a reclosable food package containing at least two food products, the method comprising:
directing one or more webs of film in a machine direction;
folding the one or more webs of film to have a pair of opposing package walls;
forming side seals of a package interior;
forming a frangible transverse seal and at least one inner frangible divider seal intersecting the frangible transverse seal to divide the package interior into at least two compartments;
separating the package from the web of film;
inserting at least one food product into each of the two compartments of the package interior; and
sealing the package interior.
Description
FIELD

A reclosable, multi-compartment package and, in particular, a dual compartment package with frangible seals separating the package into at least two compartments for separately storing different moisture level foodstuffs and methods of manufacture thereof.

BACKGROUND

Consumers often desire simplified solutions for cooking meals. One meal solution is to coat a food item in a breadcrumb coating, for example, and/or to marinade the food item before cooking. This preparation method allows the consumer to coat or marinade the food item and then, for instance, to place it in the oven to bake. The preparation time required on the part of the consumer includes the initial preparation of ingredients and then the few minutes it may take to coat the food item, or initially place the food item in the marinade. When the consumer chooses to coat or marinate the food item more than one foodstuff may be used, such as breadcrumbs mixed together with cheese. In order to make a multi-foodstuff coating for the food item, multiple foodstuffs may have to be separately obtained and mixed together in a common container or bowl, such as buying separate cheese and separate breadcrumb ingredients and then mixing the two together in a bowl. The consumer would then place the food item to be coated in the container containing the mixture of the different foodstuffs.

An alternative method to coating a food item in this manner is to purchase an already-prepared coating or marinade that may combine multiple ingredients. However, due to different moisture levels between foodstuffs, such as cheese and breadcrumbs, these ingredients may be required to be sold and packaged separately so that the cheese does not lose moisture to the breadcrumbs making the breadcrumbs soggy and the cheese dry.

There are a variety of other types of food packages being used today for other varieties of foods. For example, there are multi-compartment bags or packages currently being used on the market; however, many of these packages are manufactured for the purpose of separating a package into multiple compartments with the seal separating such compartments being a permanent seal. Thus, if this type of package were used to separate the different moisture level foodstuffs needed in a food coating or marinade, the foodstuffs would still need to be removed from this package and placed into a different package or a separate container to mix the ingredients together before coating the food item since the seal separating the compartments is permanent, such as the package disclosed in U.S. Patent Application No. 2002/0067865. Often, these multi-compartment packages often do not have a reclosable feature and some may even require cutting the package to open it, such as is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,074,544.

Still other types of packages having multiple compartments may provide a temporary seal between the two or more compartments, however, the temporary seal may require an involved, and often difficult, separation technique. For example, one such package (U.S. Pat. No. 3,608,709) discloses applying a pressure to the outside of the package, such as to a liquid ingredient in one compartment, to rupture or burst the temporary seal in order to separate the seal and combine the compartments it separates. If too little pressure is applied, the seal will not burst; if too much pressure is applied the package itself may burst apart and spill the contents of the package.

Another type of non-reclosable package with one or two temporary divider seals (U.S. Pat. No. 3,156,352) contains outer tabs for use in separating the heat seals. Through the use of pulls tabs, the divider seals are disrupted by a stripping away action instead of applying shear forces.

Many multi-compartment packages typically aren't reclosable. One such non-reclosable package is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,145,449, where a two-compartment package is used to separate an ice cream block and a wafer used to make an ice cream sandwich. The top seal and middle seal are both temporary seals, and the bottom seal can also be a temporary seal, such that the package can be openable from either end. There is no opening mechanism to aid in separating the temporary seals. Opening the top seal (or bottom seal) can prove to be difficult, because the consumer must first try to separate the layers and then use the separated edge as a grasping point for pulling apart.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,743,451 discloses a package having a central compartment and a marinade storage compartment is disclosed. The marinade storage compartment may contain a marinade to which a food can be added. One end of the package contains a sealed end and a reclosable closure. Dividing the central compartment from the marinade storage compartment is a rupturable seal, such that the central compartment is bound by the rupturable seal at one end and the reclosable closure at an opposite end. The marinade storage compartment is bound by the rupturable seal at one end and a sealed end opposite the rupturable seal. To gain access to the package interior, a tearable end to the package is provided which is opened to provide access to the reclosable closure. Once the reclosable closure is also opened, the rupturable seal can be separated to gain access to the marinade storage compartment. Once opened, the food product can be placed in the marinade and the package reclosed. The configuration of the compartments in this fashion can make opening the package difficult when there is food in each compartment. Once the reclosable closure is opened, only the central compartment is accessible, exposing the food product therein. The rupturable seal must be opened next to gain access to the second food product in the marinade storage compartment in order to co-mingle the two food products.

SUMMARY

A reclosable, multi-compartment package is provided having a frangible peel seal arrangement that separates a pair of food compartments to create a hermetically sealed package prior to use consisting of a convenient package system that reduces the amount of steps and time required to prepare a meal, separately stores foods having different moisture levels, and provides for mixing of the separated foods upon opening of the package. Purchasing a single package with all of the coating or marinade ingredients in that package and providing for mixing of these ingredients in the same package can be more convenient than purchasing all of the ingredients separately and then having to combine them in a different container. The package after opening can be used as the coating or marinade container thus making the meal preparation fast and easier compared to typical methods. Furthermore, using the packaging to mix the components therein and to coat the food product can create less mess and may be easier to clean up.

The multi-compartment package with hermetic inner peelable seals can have a slider zipper reclose covered by a shroud separable along a tear line. The separate compartments of the package can store different moisture level foods, such as a farinaceous foodstuff in one compartment and a dairy foodstuff in another compartment, until the package is opened. The separation of the different moisture level foods in individual compartments can keep each respective foodstuff in a fresher state than if combined. For example, a farinaceous foodstuff can comprise a breadcrumb mixture and a dairy foodstuff may comprise cheese. If cheese and breadcrumbs are mixed together in a common compartment, over time, the cheese may lose its moisture to the breadcrumbs thus causing the cheese to dry out and the breadcrumbs to absorb moisture and become soggy.

The inner peelable seals pull apart easily as the consumer opens the top of the package, facilitating mixing of the components. As the top of the package is opened, the inner peel seals can be peeled apart to combine the multiple compartments into one. The peel seals are configured such that a transverse seal runs along the opening of each compartment and at least one divider seal intersects the transverse seal and separates the inner product-receiving cavity of the package into one or more compartments; thus both compartments are bound in part by the peelable seals.

In one example, breadcrumbs and cheese can be kept separate until time of use. When mixed together they can form a crispy and cheesy coating for meat, fish, vegetable, and/or poultry products. The package can be used as the “shaking bag” where a consumer can remove the shroud along the tear line, shift the slider to open the zipper, and pull apart the transverse peelable seal disposed inwardly from the zipper and peeling the divider seal that separates the at least two food components. The consumer can then reclose the package using the slider/zipper and shake the food components together until sufficiently mixed in the newly formed unitary compartment. The consumer could then re-open the package and place one or more pieces of meat or the like herein, close the package using the slider/zipper and shake until the meat is sufficiently coated. The consumer could then re-open the package, take-out the coated meat and proceed to cook it. This process can then be repeated until the food components are used up or all of the meat pieces are coated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front plan view of a reclosable, multi-compartment package in a closed and unopened configuration;

FIG. 2 is a detailed front plan view of the circled section of the package of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the package of FIG. 1, showing food in the two compartments;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the package of FIG. 3, showing a shroud being removed from the remainder of the package;

FIG. 5 is a top perspective view of the package of FIG. 4, showing a package opened along an inner frangible transverse seal and partially opened along an inner frangible divider seal;

FIG. 6 is a side perspective view of the opened package of FIG. 5, showing the food co-mingled in a common unitary compartment;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the package of FIG. 6, in a reclosed state and containing a food item inside the package to be coated with the co-mingled food;

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the closed, unopened package taken along line 8-8 of FIG. 3;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a reclosable, multi-compartment package;

FIG. 10 is a process flow diagram of a process for manufacturing reclosable, multi-compartment packages;

FIG. 11 is a process flow diagram of a process for filling and sealing the reclosable, multi-compartment packages manufactured in FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a reclosable, multi-compartment package;

FIG. 13 is a side perspective view of a portion of the package of FIG. 12 in an opened state;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a reclosable, multi-compartment package;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a reclosable, multi-compartment package;

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a reclosable multi-compartment package; and

FIG. 17 is is a cross-sectional view of a closed, unopened package of another embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A reclosable, multi-compartment package and, in particular, a dual compartment package with frangible seals separating the package into two compartments for storing different moisture level foodstuffs until opening the package, and methods of manufacture thereof, are disclosed herein and in FIGS. 1-17. A frangible transverse seal and a frangible divider seal that bound the multi-compartments can be peeled apart to combine the compartments and foodstuffs into one compartment for use in food and meal preparations.

In particular, the reclosable, dual-compartment package comprises opposing walls with seals at first edge portions, second edge portions, and side edge portions. A removable shroud portion includes the seal at the first edge portions of the opposing walls and can be removed along a weakness formed in the opposing walls for a more controlled tear and to allow access to a reclosable zipper. The reclosable zipper can be opened to allow access to a frangible transverse seal which bounds a mouth portion, or opening, of each of the two compartments and can be opened to gain access to each of the compartments. Each of the compartments is further divided by a frangible divider seal which can also be opened to permit combination of the foodstuffs in each of the compartments.

A reclosable, dual compartment package 10 is shown in FIG. 1 having two compartments in an unopened state. The package 10 has seals 22 and 24 along three side portions of the package 10 and a reclosable structure, such as a zipper 26, along a fourth side portion, which define an interior cavity between opposing walls 12 and 14 of the package 10. Temporary or frangible seals 16 and 18 are located at an interior region of the package 10 between an inner side of opposing walls 12 and 14 of the package 10.

The frangible seals 16 and 18 define the two compartments 42 and 44 of the package 10 used for separating foodstuffs, and typically for separating foodstuffs having different moisture level requirements until the package 10 is to be opened. The package 10 has a frangible transverse seal 18 and a frangible divider seal 16, generally perpendicular to the transverse seal 18. The frangible transverse seal 18 is parallel to the seal at the first edge portions 23 of the package 10, or the first seal 22, and extends between the seal at the side edge portions 25, or the side seals 24, as further illustrated in FIG. 3. The frangible transverse seal 18 is positioned between a reclosable zipper 26 and the seal at the second edge portions 21 of the package 10, or the second seal 20, such that the frangible transverse seal 18 is positioned closer to the first edge portions 23 than the second edge portions 21. The frangible transverse seal 18 is generally linear and may contain an undulating edge facing the reclosable zipper 26, such that at least a portion of the frangible transverse seal 18 has a propagated or wavy edge, the purpose of which will be described in greater detail below.

The frangible divider seal 16 extends between the transverse seal 18 and the second seal 20 of the package 10. The frangible divider seal 16 is generally parallel to the side edge portions 25 such that it is also generally perpendicular to the second seal 20 and the frangible transverse seal 18, and can be located equidistantly between the opposing side seals 24 or the frangible divider seal 16 can be located closer to one side seal 24 than to the other side seal 24 to vary the relative sizes of the compartments 42 and 44.

The frangible divider seal 16 can terminate at a lower end 15 intersecting the second seal 20 and can terminate at an upper end 17 intersecting the frangible transverse seal 18, as shown in FIG. 1. Where the frangible transverse seal 18 has an undulating edge, the frangible divider seal 16 can intersect the frangible transverse seal 18 at a reduced width portion 19 of the undulating edge, as seen in FIG. 2. This is because it is preferable to keep the overlap between the two frangible seals 16 and 18 to a minimum, since the force required to open a double application of frangible seals can be greater than a single application of a frangible seal. Optionally, the two frangible seals 16 and 18 may not overlap at all and can terminate at the edge of one another without intersecting.

The frangible divider seal 16 divides the main receiving cavity 46 of the package 10 into at least two compartments 42 and 44 for separating foodstuffs with different moisture levels and therefore different storage requirements. One configuration of the package 10 may contain breadcrumbs in one compartment 42 and cheese in the other compartment 44. If the two differing foodstuffs were stored together in the same compartment, such as breadcrumbs and cheese, the breadcrumbs may absorb some moisture from the cheese and begin to lose their crispness and the cheese could begin to dry out and become hard. Therefore, as a result of the different storage requirements between the two foodstuffs, each is better stored separately to maintain food properties. However, when the package 10 is opened, the separated ingredients can then be combined into one mixture in order to coat a food item 48 with the mixture; therefore the frangible seals 16 and 18 are able to be peeled apart to form a common main compartment 46. Alternatively, foodstuffs that may not have differing moisture levels and may not require separate storage compartments can nevertheless also be stored separately.

The frangible transverse seal 18 is separated to gain access to each of the two compartments 42 and 44, and can be used to form a hermetic cavity with the side seals 24 and second seals 22. The frangible transverse seal 18 can bound the open end of each compartment 42 and 44, such that when the frangible transverse seal 18 is opened and separated, it provides access to both compartments 42 and 44; alternatively, the transverse seal 18 does not have to border each compartment. The frangible divider seal 16 can either be opened at the same time as the opening of the frangible transverse seal 18, can start opening at the same time and finish after the frangible transverse seal 18 is opened, or can start opening after the frangible transverse seal 18 has been opened. As the frangible divider seal 16 is separated, it removes the division between the two compartments 42 and 44, thus combining the two compartments 42 and 44 into the main compartment 46, as shown in FIG. 6.

A peel strength of the frangible seals, or a force to peel the seals apart, can also be measured to determine how much force is needed to peel apart the opposing walls 12 and 14 of the frangible seals 16 and 18, which can be affected by various sealing bar parameters. Four parameters that may affect the peel strength of the frangible seals 16 and 18 can be the seal time, the pressure, the temperature, and a pattern that may be on the surface of the sealing bars. These four parameters at a minimum can be varied to obtain the desired opening conditions of the seals 16 and 18. For example, a preferred average sealing temperature range for a single hit, or single application, of a heat source to create the frangible seals 16 and 18 can typically be from about 275° F. to about 350° F., with a sealing time of about 0.1 seconds to about 1 second on a high speed process line, and preferably a sealing time of about 0.35 seconds. The frangible seals 16 and 18 can have peel strengths ranging from about 200 grams to about 400 grams, for example, as compared to peel strengths of greater than about 1000 grams for the outer perimeter seals (i.e., side seals 24, first seals 22, and second seals 20). Additionally, the peel strength to initiate the opening of the seal is typically greater than the force needed to continue opening the seal. Typically, for a frangible seal to peel easily apart, a lower sealing bar pressure and lower temperature at a short seal time is desired when high process line speeds are used.

The reclosable, multi-compartment package, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 8, can have opposing walls 12 and 14 sealed along its perimeter to at least partially bound a receiving cavity therein. The opposing walls 12 and 14 each have a first edge 23, a second edge 21 that is opposite the first edge 23, and a pair of side edges 25. The opposing walls 12 and 14 are sealed together between a portion of the first edge 23 creating a first seal 22, between a portion of the second edge 21 to create a second seal 20, and between portions of the side edges 25 to create side seals 24, which make up the outer seals of the package 10. Alternatively, at least one of the first 22 or second 20 seals may be a fold. These outer seals are more durable than the frangible seals 16 and 18, such that these outer seals do not separate upon opening of the package 10. The strength of the frangible seals 16 and 18 is less than the strength of each of the side seals 24, first seal 22, and the second seal 20. The outer seals are of a generally permanent nature, whereas the frangible seals 16 and 18 are temporary. The outer seals may also be made by a “double hit”, or by applying a heat source to the outer seal areas twice. Using a double hit typically helps to provide a stronger seal which is more difficult to tear apart, than a seal made using a single hit of the heat source.

The frangible seals 16 and 18 typically are made with a single hit (one application of a heat source), such that these seals can be peeled apart easier than the outer seals. The frangible transverse seal 18 can intersect the side seals 24, extending between the side seals 24, and is generally parallel to the first seal 22. As stated previously, the frangible transverse seal 18 can have at least one undulating edge, such that one side of the seal has a propagating edge that extends between the side seals 24 of the package 10. The undulating edge along the frangible transverse seal 18 can help to initiate the opening of the seal 18, and requires less force to open than a straight edge.

The frangible divider seal 16 located between the opposing walls 12 and 14 can extend between the frangible transverse seal 18 and the second seal 20 to subdivide the product-receiving cavity into two compartments 42 and 44. Alternatively, the frangible divider seal 116 can extend from the frangible transverse seal 18 towards the gusset feature 120, but terminates at an intersection with one of the side seals 124, such that the frangible divider seal 116 has an arcuate shape, as shown in FIG. 9, and described herein.

Positioned between the first seal 22 and the frangible transverse seal 18 is a reclosable structure, such as a zipper segment 26 attached to the opposing walls 12 and 14 along two zipper flanges 40. The zipper flanges 40 are attached to the opposing walls 12 and 14 at a flange seal 32 positioned between the second seal 20 and a weakness 30 formed in each of the opposing walls 12 and 14, and more specifically, the zipper flanges 40 may be attached to the opposing walls 12 and 14 at a position between the weakness 30 and the frangible transverse seal 18, such that the flange seal 32 is parallel to the first seal 22. Alternatively, the frangible transverse seal 18 can be formed between the zipper flanges 40 wherein the zipper flanges 40 are joined together at the frangible seal 18. Furthermore, the frangible transverse seal 18 can be a weakness formed in one of the zipper flanges 40 or between the zipper flanges 40.

The reclosable zipper can also include two mating portions that make up the reclosable zipper segment 26, where each is attached to an end of the zipper flange 40 that is not attached to the opposing walls 12 and 14 of the package 10, which provides the zipper segment 26 on which the slider 28 can slide along. Also along the zipper segment 26 and at each end is a stopper section 36 that terminates at an intersection with the side seals 24, to prevent the slider 28 from being adjusted past the stopper section 36 and to prevent sliding off of the zipper segment 26. Alternatively, the reclosable structure can be an adhesive reclose feature such that one or both of the opposing walls of film can contain a self-tacking film or adhesive which sticks together and keeps the opposing walls closed after opening. One example can be where the adhesive reclose feature is positioned on the outside of an opposing wall of the package and the other opposing wall forming a flap which can cover the package opening and adhere to the adhesive on the outside of the package to close the opening. Still alternatively, the reclosable structure can be a zipper without a slider.

Located adjacent the zipper segment 26 is a weakness 30 formed in each of the opposing walls 12 and 14, intersecting the side seals 24 and generally parallel to the zipper segment 26. The weakness 30 acts as a tear line along which a removable shroud portion 38 is separable. The weakness 30, or tear line 30, may be generally linear, as illustrated in FIG. 3, or the tear line 30 may have one or more arcuate or inclined segments, particularly at the ends. Where the tear line 30 has one or more arcuate segments it may comprise a generally linear segment, or line, with ends that terminate at a side seal 24 and having an elevation slightly higher or lower than the majority of the line 30. The tear line 30 can be positioned so that the majority of the tear line 30 is between the zipper segment 26 and the flange seal 32, extending between the side seals 24.

When the package 10 is to be opened, as shown in FIG. 4, the consumer can grab the package 10 at a side edge portion 25 near the first seal 22 and tear across the package 10 thus providing an opening 40. The package 10 may optionally contain a tear notch 50, or small gap, which can provide a tear initiation point to begin removing the removable shroud 38. The removable shroud 38 can be easily removed as it tears along the tear line 30 using the tear line 30 as its guide for removal allowing the removable shroud 38 to tear clearly across the package 10 and to provide a relatively neat, straight edge at the tear point.

The removable shroud 38 also includes the first seal 22, and a portion of a window segment 34. The window segment 34 provides a small gap or opening through which the slider 28 is visible when the package 10 is in the closed, unopened state. The window segment 34 can alternatively be a clear or transparent window in the film in the area of the slider 28.

The majority of the removable shroud 38 tears just below the zipper segment 26, (where the majority of the tear line 30 is positioned) thus exposing the zipper-segment 26 and the slider 28. Once the removable shroud 38 is removed, the slider 28 can be freely shifted along the zipper segment 26 between a closed position and an opened position.

After the slider 28 is adjusted along the zipper segment 26 to the open position, the consumer can continue opening the package 10 by applying a force to the opposing walls 12 and 14, in generally opposite directions, as designated by the arrows X and Y in FIG. 5, to begin tearing apart the transverse seal 18. As the right amount of tearing force or pressure is applied, the frangible transverse seal 18 and the frangible divider seal 16 both begin to give away and the frangible seals 16 and 18 peel apart, thus separating the previously attached portions of the opposing walls 12 and 14 to form a unitary compartment 46. The opened package 10, as illustrated in FIG. 6, shows the previously separated foodstuff in a now co-mingled state and in one main compartment 46.

The foodstuff contained in the package 10 can comprise ingredients typically used to coat or marinade a meat, seafood, or vegetable product. Such food items to be coated or marinated can comprise chicken, pork, beef, fish, potatoes, as well as any other food item typically coated and then cooked. The foodstuff used as a coating typically may comprise a farinaceous foodstuff in one compartment and a dairy foodstuff in the other compartment, however, any other types of foodstuff can be separated. Dairy foodstuff ingredients that may be used can comprise any one or combination of cheeses such as Cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan, Monterey jack, Colby, provolone, Romano, Feta, blue, American, processed and other similar ingredients, as well as other dairy ingredients such as sour cream, cream cheese, diary-based sauces, and other similar ingredients. Farinaceous foodstuff ingredients may comprise breadcrumbs, taco seasoning, bacon bits, tortilla strips or chips, and other similar ingredients. The food item to be coated is obtained and set aside in a state ready for coating, followed by baking.

The reclosable, dual-compartment package 10 is obtained having the desired coating components, such as cheese in one compartment and breadcrumbs in the other. The package 10 is opened, first by removing the removable shroud 38 and then by sliding the slider 28 along the zipper segment 26 to the opposite end of the zipper segment 26. Once the zipper portion is open, the consumer can gain access to the inner frangible transverse seal 18 and the frangible divider seal 16. Once both frangible seals 16 and 18 have been separated, the two compartments 42 and 44 are no longer divided and the previously-separated food ingredients, such as cheese and breadcrumbs, can now be mixed together in the main compartment 46. Optionally, the consumer can reclose the package 10 by sliding the zipper 28 back to the opposite side of the package 10 to the closed position and can then shake the package 10 in order to more thoroughly mix the contents. Once the food ingredients are mixed, the package 10 can be reopened (if it was previously closed), and the food item 48 to be coated is inserted into the package 10, such as a chicken leg. The package 10 is again reclosed by sliding the zipper 28 to the closed position, as shown in FIG. 7, and the package 10 can be shaken to dispense the food ingredients, or the cheese and breadcrumb mixture, over the chicken 48. The package 10 can be shaken until the chicken 48 is evenly coated, turning and squeezing the package 10 as necessary to apply the coating mix to the chicken 48. Once the chicken 48 is coated to the satisfaction of the consumer, the package 10 is reopened via the zipper 28 and the chicken 48 is removed and then cooked. The process can be repeated for multiple chicken pieces to be coated.

Alternatively, the dual-compartments 42 and 44 can separate a sauce and a carbohydrate food item, such as a pasta, where the two can be mixed together upon opening both of the frangible seals 16 and 18 and then consumed, or still alternatively, the separate food ingredients can be combined and then added to another food item or items where the combination of the entire package and food item are cooked together. One such example can be a sauce and a cheese or dairy ingredient that is combined and added to chicken or beef in a casserole type dish and then cooked in the oven. Furthermore, the package can have multiple frangible divider seals 16 creating multiple compartments within the package 10. Other possible food products that can be stored in the package 10 can comprise salad component or toppings, omelette components added to eggs, eggs, rice, vegetables, high pressure process vegetables, dried vegetables, chunky sauces (i.e., with tomato pieces, meat, or vegetables), smooth sauces (i.e., without tomato pieces, meat, or vegetables), dry rubs, beans, potatoes, meat, and desserts, by way of example.

The reclosable, dual-compartment package can have an increased product-receiving cavity size by adding a gusset feature 120 to the package 100, as shown in FIG. 9. A gusset feature 120 can be added to the bottom of the package 100 to permit the package 100 to expand more and, in some circumstances, to permit the package 100 to stand upright. The gusset package 100 can still comprise two compartments 142 and 144, however the orientation of the two compartments 142 and 144 would be different than the two compartments 42 and 44 of the previous package 10. The gusset feature 120 can be used to either allow more storage space in the two compartments 142 and 144 for the separated foodstuffs such that the gusset feature 120 is expanded during storage, or the gusset feature 120 may expand after opening to allow further space when coating a food item, and therefore more food items can be coated at one time. The frangible transverse seal 18 would remain the same as described previously, however, the frangible divider seal 116 would be generally arcuate, rather than generally linear, and the frangible divider seal 116 now extends from the frangible transverse seal 18 to one of the side seals 124, instead of extending to the second edge portions 20. This orientation of the frangible divider seal 116 creates two compartments 142 and 144 having different shapes, as compared to the two side-by-side compartments 42 and 44 having similar rectangular shapes, as in the previous package 10. The two compartments 142 and 144, each has a different number of edges that define its respective compartment, whereas with the package 10 described previously each compartment 42 and 44 was bounded by four edges. The remaining features of the gusset package 100 are similar to the previous package 10, and similarly numbered features are similar to the previous package 10.

The gusset package 100, for instance, may contain a cheese product in a first compartment 144, which is bound by a portion of one of the side seals 124, a portion of the frangible transverse seal 18, and the frangible divider seal 116. The second compartment 142 may contain a breadcrumb mixture, which is bound by a portion of one of the side seals 124 and the entire edge of the opposite side seal 124, a portion of the frangible transverse seal 18, the frangible divider seal 116, and the gusset portion 120. When the package 100 is opened along the frangible transverse seal 18, access is gained to both of the compartments 142 and 144, and when the frangible divider seal 116 is opened, the two compartments 142 and 144 are combined into one main compartment and the two foodstuffs previously kept separate are then mixed together. Alternatively, the gusset feature may be positioned along one or more side edge portions rather than the bottom edge (i.e. second edge portion) and, therefore, the frangible divider seal may still extend between the frangible transverse seal and the second edge or bottom of the package, as described in relation to FIGS. 1-8.

Alternatively, the frangible divider seal could remain the same as in the standard, gusset-less package 10, where the divider seal 161 would be perpendicular to the second edge 21 or, in this case, the gusset feature 120, as illustrated in FIG. 12. However, in order for the divider seal 161 to seal between the gusset feature 120, the divider seal 161 may require sealing through multiple film layers of the package 200, i.e., at least two or more layers (as seen in FIG. 13 in an expanded view of the gusset), and in sealing through multiple film layers the gusset feature 120 would be in a non-expanded position until opening. Once opened and the frangible divider seal 161 is peeled apart to combine the separate compartments 42 and 44 into one compartment 246, the gusset feature 120 expands and the foodstuff can enter the area of the gusset 120 at that time. The frangible divider seal 161, as shown in FIG. 13, can seal through the opposing walls 12 and 14 of the package 200 as well as a portion of the second edge portions 21, which requires sealing through two parts of the second edge portion 21 creating smaller section frangible divider seals 161 a and 161 b that are generally continuous with the main frangible divider seal 161.

Another aspect of a gusset package 300 may include two frangible transverse seals 18 and 318 with a frangible divider seal 316 perpendicular to both and extending therebetween, as shown in FIG. 14. A first frangible transverse seal 18 would be as previously described, however, a second frangible transverse seal 318 would be parallel to the first transverse seal 18 and adjacent the second edge portion 21 and the gusset feature 120, such that the gusset feature 120 does not border the food-receiving cavity while in the closed, unopened state. The frangible divider seal 316 would also extend from the first frangible transverse seal 18 as in the standard version of the package 10, however, it would also intersect the second frangible transverse seal 318 and terminate at the second frangible transverse seal 318 without further intersecting the gusset feature 120. Upon opening the package 300 and the frangible seals, the unitary compartment would then include the gusset feature 120, and the package 300 contents would flow into the gusset region 120.

Another embodiment of the reclosable package 400 is shown in FIG. 15. This package 400 contains a variation on the shape of the frangible divider seal 416. The frangible divider seal 416 may have a U-shape, either upside down, i.e., so that the bottom curve of the U intersects the transverse seal and the two straight edges intersect the second edge thus separating the package into at least three compartments, or right-side up, as in FIG. 15, where the two straight edges 401 and 402 of the U intersect the frangible transverse seal 18 and the bottom curve 403 of the U rests a distance above the second edge 21 without intersecting it. Alternatively, the curved end 403 of the frangible divider seal 416 can also intersect the second edge 21. The U-shaped frangible divider seal 416 can also be positioned along a side edge seal 124, such that both straight edge ends intersect the side edge seal 124 and one end intersects the frangible transverse seal 18. Where the frangible divider seal 416 is configured as shown in FIG. 15, the U-shaped divider seal 416 separates the package 400 into at least two compartments 442 and 444. The functionality of the package 400 would remain the same as previous packages 10 and 100 with the frangible transverse 18 and divider 416 seals being peelable as the package 400 is opened. The remaining features of this embodiment are similar to the standard package 100, and similarly numbered features are similar to the same features in the standard package 100. Similarly, any of the various alternative embodiments can also be incorporated into this package 400, such as also including a gusset feature 120, for example, as shown in the package 400 illustrated in FIG. 15.

Another embodiment of the reclosable package 500 is shown in FIG. 16. This package 500 is similar to the standard, gusset-less package 10, however, the shroud and tear lines are different. In this package 500, the tear line 530 has several arcuate segments 502 and 503, which protrude out at a slightly higher elevation than the remainder of the tear line 530 resembling peaks. The shroud segment 538 compliments these peaks in the tear line 530 by reciprocally shaped cut out sections 504 and 505 in the shroud 538. When the package 500 is opened and the shroud segment 538 is removed along the tear line 530, it leaves behind slightly elevated sections of the tear line 538 in the package 500 represented by the arcuate segments 502 and 503. The middle arcuate segments 502 may be used as a pull tab, such that the consumer who opens the package 500 can then pull apart the frangible seals by gripping the pull tabs 502 and then applying a force to the seals at the point of the pull tabs 502. This can aid in the opening of the frangible seals. This package 500 may also optionally contain a gusset feature 120.

Yet another embodiment of the reclosable package 600 can contain a transverse seal 618 positioned between the zipper flanges 40 and opposite the zipper flange seals 32, as shown in FIG. 17. The frangible divider seal 616 can be extended such that it intersects the transverse seal 618 and its end is positioned between the zipper flanges 40.

The types of films used to create the packages 10, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, and 600 can be any type that is typically used in the field, such as including a delamination peelable sealant or a surface peelable sealant. The frangible divider seal 16 may have an upper end 17 that has a reduced width as compared to the lower end 15. For example, the upper end portion 17 that intersects the frangible transverse seal 18 may terminate in a rounded tip end, as shown in FIG. 2, or in a pointed, triangular tip, or any other such configuration. Also, the location of the frangible divider seal 16 can be such that two compartments can be divided into varying sizes such that the size ratio between the two compartments 42 and 44 is 60:40, for example. The package compartments may further include a venting feature, such as a fitment, attached to the sidewalls. Venting features may be used when the foodstuff requires ventilation, such as with ground or whole bean coffee or a liquid, for example. The package dimensions for a package made without the gusset feature can be, for example, about 12 inches by about 7.5 inches. A package manufactured having the gusset feature can have a similar flat, non-extended size, however, once the package and the gusset are extended the package can have a larger volume due to the gusset feature being about 1 inch to 2 inches wide. The package material may comprise polyethylene terephthalate (“PET”), low density polyethylene (“LDPE”), oriented polypropylene (“OPP”), polyvinylidene chloride (“PVdC”) coated on PET, or a blend of one or more of the compounds, as well as any other suitable package material. Furthermore, an example of a peelable sealant may be ethylene vinyl alcohol (“EVOH”), or any other suitable sealant material. The package material, or web, may be obtained from various packaging suppliers, such as Alcan Inc., in Montreal, Canada. The zipper component may be pre-attached to the web or can be obtained in a roll of zipper material. The zipper can be obtained from Zip-Pak, in Manteno, Ill.

A variety of methods for manufacturing the package 10 described herein can be utilized. For example, the reclosable, dual-compartment package 10 can be made using the apparatus and process 200 diagrammed in FIG. 10. A web supply roll 202 provides a supply of web material, such as a conventional plastic packaging film, to make the packages 10. The web material 202 is typically advanced in a longitudinal process direction. As the web material 202 is being unwound, joined zipper segments provided on a zipper roll 204 are also being unwound and flanges of the joined zippers are attached to the web. The shroud 38 can also be formed when the zipper is attached. The zipper material 204 is typically advanced in the same direction as the web supply material 202, i.e., a longitudinal process direction. The web material 202 passes over a triangular plate or plow 206 where the web 202 is folded about the plow 206 to form a fold at the lower end of the web 202, which will later become the top or shroud of the package, or the first edge portion 23 of the package 10, as described previously; the zipper flange has been attached prior to this folding step. The web 202 is folded in such a fashion as to later allow filling of the package 10 through the bottom, or second edge portion 21 of the package 10. Additionally, an opening can be punched into the zipper to create the window segment 34 either prior to folding the web or after. Once the web 202 passes over the plow 206, it then comes into contact with a pair of vertical roller bars 208, which may aid in aligning the front 12 and back 14 wall of the web in an upright, opposing position. As an alternative to the fold at the lower end of the package 10, a gusset blade may be utilized to form a gusset 120 in the lower end of the folded web.

Next, the web 202 is advanced to a pair of horizontal sealing bars 210 which cooperate to seal a pair of zipper flanges 40, provided by the zipper supply roll 204, to the web 202 forming a zipper flange seal 32. The sealing bars 210 are pressed against the web material 202 in the direction of arrows A and B, and once the zipper flange seal 32 is formed, they retract in the opposite direction. This sealing is repeated as the web 202 is advanced still further in a longitudinal direction to form another zipper flange seal 32. The sealing bars 210 continually form zipper flange seals 32 along the web, such that there is a series of zipper flange seals 32 designating numerous packages all serially formed along the web and connected to one another.

Optionally, a top or first seal can be formed in the shroud by a pair of horizontal sealing bars 211, which can form a seal in the fold of the web. Alternatively, if the web material was not folded then the horizontal sealing bars 211 can create an initial seal at the first edge portion. The sealing bars 211 are pressed against the web material 202 in the direction of arrows A′ and B′, and once the top seal is formed, they retract in the opposite direction.

The frangible transverse seal 18 adjacent to the zipper is formed by a pair of horizontal sealing bars 212. The sealing bars 212 are pressed against the web, as designated by arrows C and D, and retract from the web in the opposite direction. The horizontal sealing bars 212 are generally rectangular in shape, however, one edge of the sealing bars 212 can have an undulating edge that can be similar to the desired undulating pattern for the frangible transverse seal 18.

After the frangible transverse seal 18 is formed, then the web 202 goes through a vertical sealing station which can consist of three pairs of vertical sealing bars. The first pair of sealing bars is used to form the side seals 24 utilizing vertical sealing bars 214, which cooperate to form the side seals 24. The sealing bars 214 are pressed against the web, as designated by arrows E and F, and retract from the web in the opposite direction. The sealing bars 214 continually form side seals along the web, such that there is a series of side seals 24 designating numerous packages all serially formed along the web and connected to one another.

After the side seals 24 are formed, the frangible divider seal 16 is formed by using a second pair of vertical sealing bars 216, however, the second vertical sealing bars 216 are not as long as the first vertical sealing bars 214. The second vertical sealing bars 216 used to create the frangible divider seal 16 can be shorter than the enter height of the package 10. Furthermore, the vertical sealing bars 216 can have a generally rectangular shape with a curved end. Alternatively, one end of the vertical sealing bars 216 can have a triangular end, or any other shape that gives it a reduced width than the remainder of the sealing bar width. The sealing bars 216 are pressed against the web, as designated by arrows G and H, and retract from the web in the opposite direction. In an alternate process step, all of the frangible seals, i.e., the frangible transverse seal 18 and the frangible divider seal 16, may be formed in one step utilizing a single sealing bar, for example such as a sealing bar in the shape of a ‘T’, which creates both of the frangible seals 16 and 18 simultaneously.

After the frangible divider seal 16 is formed, the side seals 24 may optionally be sealed one more time utilizing a third pair of vertical sealing bars 218. The third vertical sealing bars 218 seal the same area as the first vertical sealing bars 214 in order to increase the seal strength of the side seals 24. The sealing bars 218 are pressed against the web at generally the same location as the initial seal 24 was made by the first vertical sealing bars 214, as designated by arrows I and J, and retract from the web in the opposite direction. After the second application of sealing bars 218 to the side seal region 24, each side seal 24 then may optionally go through a cooling process, by application of a pair of cooling bars 220. The cooling bars 220 are applied in approximately the same location as the side seals 24 and the direction of the application is designated by arrows K and L, and retracted from the web in the opposite direction. Optionally, a peg-hole can be punched on the leading edge side seal 24. The final step is to singulate the packages 10 from the remainder of the web 202, such as with a blade 222. Then each package 10 can be separated from the adjacent package 10 along the web and transferred to the next section of the machine for filling. Alternatively, all of the package seals may be formed simultaneously in a single process step, or other variations thereof.

A variety of methods for filling the package 10 described herein can be utilized. For example, after the packages are singulated, they can be transferred to be filled and to receive the final seal 20 using the apparatus and process 300, diagrammed in FIG. 11. The first step or station receives newly cut package 10. The package 10 is then sent to a second station where both compartments 42 and 44 are opened, such as with suction cups 302 utilizing a vacuum, and are ready for filling. A third station is a quality control station where both compartments 42 and 44 are verified to be fully open and ready to receive the food product. A fourth station comprises a filling step, but only in one compartment 44. For example, the filling of the package 10 can be carried out using a funnel 304 which may be inserted into the opening of the package 10, such as designated by arrow Z. As the funnel 304 is inserted, it can further spread open the package 10 and facilitates food products, such as cheese, to be placed therein. The cheese product can be added into the compartment 44 that is at the opposite end of the peg-holed side seal. The funnel 304 has an opening sized to permit products to be inserted into the package 10 at relatively high production line speeds. The food is inserted into the top of the funnel 304 and falls through the funnel 304 and into the package 10. After filling, the funnel 304 is removed by retracting in the opposite direction Z. At the fifth station, the cheese starts to settle into its compartment 44 as it also receives a gas flush 305 and the opening to that compartment 44 is pulled close. At the same station, the other compartment 42 can be filled with its foodstuff, such as with breadcrumbs. For example, the compartment 42 can be filled with food through a funnel 306 that may be inserted into the opening of the compartment 42 in the direction of the arrow W, and is removed from the opening by retracting in the opposite direction. At the sixth station a gas flush (not shown) may continue into the compartment 42 just filled with breadcrumbs, and prior to application of the final seal 20. The formation of the final seal 20 is also completed at the sixth station by a pair of horizontal sealing bars 308, which are applied as designated by arrows M and N, and retract from the web in the opposite direction. At a seventh station, an optional second application of sealing bars 310 is made to the second edge region 21, i.e., the bottom of the package 10, by a second pair of horizontal sealing bars 310, which are applied in the direction as designated by arrows O and P, and retract from the web in the opposite direction. The second application of sealing bars 310 is optionally made to increase the seal strength at the outer perimeter edge.

At an eighth station, the second seal 20 can optionally go through a cooling process, by application of a pair of cooling bars 312, which are applied in approximately the same location as the second seals 20, as designated by arrows Q and R, and retract from the web in the opposite direction. After the cooling process is completed, the package 10 is dropped into a discharge chute, where the packaging and filling process is concluded.

Furthermore, the application steps completed at stations 1-8 may be performed in a non-linear process, such as on a “rotary turret” of machinery manufactured by Laudenberg Verpackungsmaschinen GmbH, in Wipperfürth, Germany. The rotary turret can have eight stations built into it which can correspond to the same eight stations just described above. Additionally, the depths of the package compartments can be varied according to packaging preferences, and the process line drawings are not drawn to scale and do not necessarily represent actual package dimensions and ratios.

From the foregoing, it will be appreciated a reclosable, multi-compartment package is provided that allows for packaging different food components separately and methods of use and manufacture thereof. However, the disclosure is not limited to the aspects and embodiments described hereinabove, or to any particular embodiments. Various modifications to the reclosable, multi-compartment package and methods of use and manufacture can result in substantially the same package and methods of use and manufacture.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US20120000163 *Jul 1, 2010Jan 5, 2012Sunsweet Growers Inc.Reduction of pathogens for food in packaging
EP2319765A1 *Nov 5, 2009May 11, 2011Kraft Foods R & D, Inc.Method and apparatus pertaining to packaging having gussets formed by at least two differing gusset-forming methodologies
Classifications
U.S. Classification383/210
International ClassificationB65D65/22, B65D30/22
Cooperative ClassificationB65B61/188, B65D75/5833, B65D81/3266, B65B29/10, B31B2219/9019, B65D75/5805, B65D2575/586, B31B19/90, B65D75/5855, B65D33/2591
European ClassificationB31B19/90, B65D81/32H1, B65D75/58B, B65B29/10, B65B61/18E, B65D33/25C
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 7, 2013ASAssignment
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:KRAFT FOODS GLOBAL BRANDS LLC;REEL/FRAME:029579/0546
Effective date: 20121001
Owner name: KRAFT FOODS GROUP BRANDS LLC, ILLINOIS
Nov 16, 2009ASAssignment
Owner name: KRAFT FOODS GLOBAL BRANDS LLC, ILLINOIS
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:KRAFT FOODS HOLDINGS, INC.;REEL/FRAME:023519/0396
Effective date: 20080801
Owner name: KRAFT FOODS GLOBAL BRANDS LLC,ILLINOIS
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Mar 27, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: KRAFT FOODS HOLDINGS, INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:VANLOOCKE, CORY KLAIBER, MR.;KARUL, KADIR, MR.;REEL/FRAME:019072/0286
Effective date: 20070327