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Title:
FOOD PACKAGING AND PACKAGED FOOD PRODUCT ASSEMBLY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/009446
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The disclosure is drawn to a food packaging system and food product assembly packaged therein. The food packaging system together with food ingredients of the food product assembly may be exposed to microwave radiation to prepare the food ingredients.

Inventors:
MIHARA, Masaaki (#209, 688-1 Hamano-ch, Chuo-ku Chiba, 260-0824, JP)
Application Number:
US2017/040312
Publication Date:
January 11, 2018
Filing Date:
June 30, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
INVENTION DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT COMPANY (701 5th Avenue, Suite 4100Seattle, Washington, 98104, US)
International Classes:
B65D5/54; A47J27/08; A47J27/088; A47J36/02; B65D5/56; B65D81/34; H05B6/80
Domestic Patent References:
2013-05-02
2015-07-30
Foreign References:
US20100038359A12010-02-18
US6602528B12003-08-05
US8158913B22012-04-17
US6906299B22005-06-14
US20140110302A12014-04-24
US6476368B22002-11-05
US20100282743A12010-11-11
US4757940A1988-07-19
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SIMON, Marcus et al. (Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Kearns Building136 South Main Street, Suite 100, Salt Lake City Utah, 84101-1685, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A food packaging system for heating and browning food in a microwave, the food packaging system comprising:

a plurality of walls coupled together and at least partially defining an interior space of the food packaging system, at least one wall of the plurality of walls defining at least one aperture that extends between the interior space and an exterior of the at least one wall, the at least one aperture is configured to receive a separator element extending from the interior space to the exterior; and

one or more susceptor elements at least partially surrounded by the plurality of walls and positioned inside the interior space of the food packaging system.

2. The food packaging system of claim 1 , wherein the one or more susceptor elements are coupled to one or more of the plurality of walls.

3. The food packaging system of claim 1 , wherein the one or more susceptor elements comprise one or more thermally conductive materials.

4. The food packaging system of claim 1 , wherein the one or more susceptor elements comprise one or more of an aluminum-containing sheet or a metalized film.

5. The food packaging system of claim 1, wherein the one or more susceptor elements exhibit a generally elongated shape having a length that is about one half of a wavelength of a microwave radiation generated by the microwave.

6. The food packaging system of claim 5, wherein the length of the one or more susceptor elements is from about 3 cm to about 9 cm.

7. The food packaging system of claim 1 , wherein the plurality of walls are configured and arranged to define a generally rectangular prismoidal shape for the interior space.

8. The food packaging system of claim 7, wherein the plurality of walls comprise at least two walls that are substantially planar and generally oppose each other, and wherein at least one of the at least two walls is configured to support and orient the food packaging system on a support surface.

9. The food packaging system of claim 7, wherein the plurality of wails comprise at least two walls that are substantially planar and generally oppose each other, and wherein the one or more susceptor elements are coupled to at least one of the at least two walls.

10. The food packaging system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of walls comprise a food-safe paperboard material.

11. The food packaging system of claim 1 , further comprising at least one separator element partially surrounded by the plurality of walls and extending from the interior space through the at least one aperture to at least the exterior of the at least one wall.

12. The food packaging system of claim 11 , wherein the at least one separator element comprises a water-resistant sheet, and wherein the at least one aperture is slot- shaped.

13. The food packaging system of claim 11, further comprising an at least partially detachable cover coupled to the at least one wall and at least partially closing the at least one aperture.

14. The food packaging system of claim 1 1 , further comprising an at least partially detachable cover coupled to the at least one wall and at least partially closing the at least one aperture, the at least partially detachable cover is adhesively coupled to one or more of the at least one wall or the at least one separator.

15. The food packaging system of claim 1 , wherein one or more of the plurality of walls define a closure element configured to move relative to one or more other walls of the plurality of walls to open access to the interior space .

16. The food packaging system of claim 15, wherein the closure element is configured to pivotably move relative to the one or more other walls between an open position and a closed position.

17. The food packaging system of claim 15, wherein the closure element is configured to pivotably move relative to the one or more other walls between an open position and a closed position, the closure element defining the at least one aperture.

18. A packaged edible fare, comprising:

one or more susceptor elements;

a container including one or more walls defining an interior space;

wherein the one or more susceptor elements are at least partially surrounded by the one or more walls and positioned inside the interior space; and

a food product assembly at least partially surrounded by the one or more walls and positioned inside the container within the interior space, the food product assembly including:

a first food ingredient having a first water content ratio;

a second food ingredient positioned adjacent to the first food ingredient and having a second water content ratio that is greater than the first water content ratio; and

an inedible separator removably positioned between the first food ingredient and the second food ingredient.

19. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, wherein the inedible separator comprises a water-resistant material.

20. The packaged edible fare of claim 19, wherein the water-resistant material forms at least part of one or more of a water-resistant film, a water-resistant sheet, a moisture-resistant sheet, or a steam-resistant sheet.

21. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, wherein at least a portion of the inedible separator is located outside of the interior space of the container.

22. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, wherein at least one wall of the one or more walls comprises at least one aperture extending therethrough, and wherein the inedible separator extends from the interior space to an exterior of the at least one wall through the at least aperture.

23. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, wherein the inedible separator is in direct contact with one or more of the first food ingredient or the second food ingredient.

24. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, wherein the first food ingredient is substantially rigid.

25. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, wherein the first food ingredient comprises a baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder.

26. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, wherein the second food ingredient is malleable.

27. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, wherein the second food ingredient comprises a food paste.

28. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, wherein the second food ingredient comprises mashed potatoes.

29. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, further comprising a third food ingredient positioned adjacent to the second food ingredient.

30. The packaged edible fare of claim 29, wherein the third food ingredient has a third water content ratio that is less than the second water content ratio.

31. The packaged edible fare of claim 29, further comprising another inedible separator removably positioned between the second food ingredient and the third food ingredient.

32. The packaged edible fare of claim 29, further comprising another inedible separator removably positioned between the second food ingredient and the third food ingredient, wherein the third food ingredient has a third water content ratio that is less than the second water content ratio, and the inedible separator comprises a water resistant material.

33. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, wherein the one or more susceptor elements are at least partially surrounded by the one or more walls and positioned inside the interior of the container adjacent to the first food ingredient.

34. The packaged edible fare of claim 33, wherein the one or more susceptor elements are positioned in direct contact with the first food ingredient.

35. The packaged edible fare of claim 18, wherein at least one of the one or more susceptor elements has an elongated shape.

36. The packaged edible fare of claim 35, wherein the at least one of the one or more susceptor elements exhibits a length that is about one-half of the wavelength of a microwave radiation.

37. A method of packaging and preparing an edible fare, the method comprising:

positioning a first food ingredient inside an interior space of a container including one or more susceptor elements, the interior space of the container is defined by one or more walls thereof; positioning a second food ingredient inside the interior space of the container; removably positioning an inedible separator between the first food ingredient and the second food ingredient; and

applying microwave energy to one or more of the first food ingredient, the second food ingredient, or the one or more susceptor elements such that at least the one or more susceptor elements receive the microwave energy effective to heat the first food ingredient.

38. The method of claim 37, wherein positioning the first food ingredient inside the interior space of the container further comprises positioning the one or more susceptor elements in direct contact with the first food ingredient.

39. The method of claim 37, further comprising removing the inedible separator.

40. The method of claim 37, further comprising removing the inedible separator before applying the microwave energy to the food product assembly.

41. The method of claim 37, wherein:

positioning the first food ingredient inside the interior space of the container further comprises positioning a baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder inside the interior space of the container; and

positioning the second food ingredient inside the interior space of the container further comprises positioning mashed potatoes inside the interior space of the container.

42. A method of packaging and preparing an edible fare, the method comprising:

positioning a baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder inside an interior space of a container including one or more susceptor elements, the interior space of the container is defined by one or more walls thereof;

positioning mashed potatoes inside the interior space of the container and adjacent to the baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder;

removably positioning an inedible separator between the baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder and the mashed potatoes; and

applying microwave energy to one or more of the baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder, the mashed potatoes, or the one or more susceptor elements such that at least the one or more susceptor elements receive the microwave energy effective to heat baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder.

Description:
FOOD PACKAGING AND PACKAGED FOOD PRODUCT ASSEMBLY

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

[001] This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 62/359,309 filed on 7 July 2016, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein, in its entirety, by this reference.

BACKGROUND

[002] Premade meals may offer consumers convenience in various circumstances. For example, premade meals may be consumed without access to cooking tools or kitchen appliances (e.g., premade meals may be consumed on-the-go). Moreover, premade meals may be ready for consumption with little time or preparation effort.

[003] Accordingly, users and manufacturers of premade meals continue to seek improvements thereto.

SUMMARY

[004] Techniques are generally described that include methods, systems, products, devices, and/or apparatuses related to a food packaging and packaged food products. An example system includes a food packaging system for heating and browning food in a microwave. The food packaging system includes a plurality of walls coupled together and at least partially defining an interior space of the food packaging system. At least one wall of the plurality of walls defines at least one aperture that extends between the interior space and an exterior of the at least one wall. The at least one aperture is configured to receive a separator element extending from the interior space to the exterior. Furthermore, one or more susceptor elements are at least partially surrounded by the plurality of walls and positioned inside the interior space of the food packaging system.

[005] Another example of a system includes a packaged edible fare. The packaged edible fare includes one or more susceptor elements and a container including one or more walls defining an interior space. The one or more susceptor elements are at least partially surrounded by the one or more walls and positioned inside the interior space. The packaged edible fare also includes a food product assembly that is at least partially surrounded by the one or more walls and positioned inside the container within the interior space. The food product assembly includes a first food ingredient having a first water content ratio, and a second food ingredient positioned adjacent to the first food ingredient and having a second water content ratio that is greater than the first water content ratio. The food product assembly further includes an inedible separator removably positioned between the first food ingredient and the second food ingredient. [0061 Examples also include a method of packaging and preparing an edible fare. The method includes positioning a first food ingredient inside an interior space of a container including one or more susceptor elements. The interior space of the container is defined by one or more walls thereof. The method also includes positioning a second food ingredient inside the interior space of the container, and removably positioning an inedible separator between the first food ingredient and the second food ingredient. Moreover, the method includes applying microwave energy to one or more of the first food ingredient, the second food ingredient, or the one or more susceptor elements such that at least the one or more susceptor elements receive the microwave energy effective to heat the first food ingredient.

[007] Examples also include another method of packaging and preparing an edible fare. The method includes positioning a baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder inside an interior space of a container including one or more susceptor elements. The interior space of the container is defined by one or more walls thereof. The method further includes positioning mashed potatoes inside the interior space of the container and adjacent to the baked mixture including com grits and rice powder, and removably positioning an inedible separator between the baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder and the mashed potatoes. Furthermore, the method includes applying microwave energy to one or more of the baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder, the mashed potatoes, or the one or more susceptor elements such that at least the one or more susceptor elements receive the microwave energy effective to heat baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder.

[008] Features from any of the disclosed embodiments may be used in combination with one another, without limitation. In addition, other features and advantages of the present disclosure will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art through consideration of the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings.

[009] The foregoing summary is illustrative only and is not intended to be in any way limiting. In addition to the illustrative aspects, embodiments, and features described above, further aspects, embodiments, and features will become apparent by reference to the drawings and the following detailed description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[010] The foregoing and other features of the present disclosure will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only several examples in accordance with the disclosure and are, therefore, not to be considered limiting of its scope, the disclosure will be described with additional specificity and detail through use of the accompanying drawings, in which:

[Oil] FIG. 1 A is a partial side elevational view of a food product assembly, according to an example;

[012] FIG. IB is a partial side elevational view of a food product assembly, according to another example;

[013] FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a food packaging system, according to an example;

[014] FIG. 3A is a top perspective view of a food packaging system in an open configuration, according to another example;

[015] FIG. 3B is a perspective view of the food packaging system of FIG. 3A in the open configuration with a food product assembly positioned therein;

[016] FIG. 3C is a perspective view of the food packaging system of FIG. 3B in a closed configuration with a food product assembly positioned therein;

[017] FIG. 4A is an isometric view of a food packaging system in an open configuration with a food product assembly positioned therein, according to another example;

[018] FIG. 4B is an isometric view of the food packaging system of FIG. 4A in a closed configuration with a partially detached cover, according to an example; and

[019] FIG. 4C is an isometric view of the food packaging system of FIG. 4A in the closed configuration with an attached cover according to an example,

[020] all arranged in accordance with at least some embodiments of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[021] In the following detailed description, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof. In the drawings, similar symbols typically identify similar components, unless context dictates otherwise. The illustrative examples described in the detailed description, drawings, and claims are not meant to be limiting. Other examples may be utilized, and other changes may be made, without departing from the spirit or scope of the subject matter presented herein. It will be readily understood that the aspects of the present disclosure, as generally described herein, and illustrated in the Figures, may be arranged, substituted, combined, separated, and designed in a wide variety of different configurations, all of which are implicitly contemplated herein. [022] This disclosure is drawn, inter alia, to methods, systems, products, devices, and/or apparatuses related to a food packaging and packaged food products. For example, a food packaging system may be microwaveable and may include one or more susceptor elements that may receive microwave energy in a manner that raises a temperature thereof. In at least one example, the packaging system is arranged such that microwave radiation heats the susceptor elements, and the heat from the susceptor elements may be transferred to a food product assembly inside the packaging. For example, the heat from the susceptor elements may be thermally conductively transferred to one or more food ingredients of the food product assembly (e.g., one or more food ingredients may be heated by the susceptor elements in a manner that browns the ingredient(s), similar to a toaster, grill, etc.).

[023] Generally, the packaged food product assembly may vary from one example to the next. In at least one example, the food product assembly may include at least two food ingredients. Moreover, for example, two or more adjacent food ingredients may have different water content ratios. For example, a first food ingredient may have a higher water content ratio that a second food ingredient positioned near or adjacent to the first food ingredient, or vice versa (e.g., the first food ingredient may include a baked mixture including corn grits and the second food ingredient may include rice powder and mashed potatoes). In an example, the adjacent food ingredients may be separated by one or more separators (e.g., inedible separators); where the material of the separator is selected to act as a moisture barrier.

[024] Generally, the separators may vary from one example to another. In an example, the food product assembly may include adjacent food ingredients with different water content ratios and a water-resistant separator positioned between the food ingredients. For example, the water-resistant separator can prevent or minimize transfer of water or moisture from one food ingredient to another (e.g., the separator may prevent or minimize a drier food ingredient from becoming moist or soggy due to contact with a moister food ingredient). Any number of suitable materials may be used for the separator, such as plastic materials (e.g., thermoplastic, thermoset, etc.), such as plastic sheeting, plastic film (e.g., polyethylene film, nylon film, etc.), wax paper, aluminum foil, etc. Suitable plastic materials include cast polypropylene, oriented polypropylene, polyvinylidene chloride, ethylene-vinylalcohol copolymer, polyethylene, nylon, combinations and laminates thereof, etc. [025] FIG. 1A is a partial side elevational view of a food product assembly 100, according to an example. For example, the food product assembly 100 may include a first food ingredient 110 and a second food ingredient 120 positioned adjacent to each other and/or stacked one over the other. Generally, the first food ingredient 110 and second food ingredient 120 may vary from one example or implementation to another. For example, the first food ingredient 1 10 and'Or second food ingredient 120 may include or be formed from one or more of generally rigid edible ingredients (e.g., toast, crackers, salt, black pepper, etc.), generally soft or malleable edible ingredients (e.g., cheese, sliced meet, etc.), generally paste-like ingredients or food paste (e.g., cream cheese, jam, catchup, mayonnaise, etc.), or generally liquid edible ingredients such as sauces (e.g., soy sauce, tabasco, etc.), other edible ingredients, such as condiments (e.g., chopped garlic, chopped onion, etc.).

[026] In at least one example, the first food ingredient 1 10 and second food ingredient 120 may have different water content ratios. The first food ingredient 110 may have a lower water content ratio than the second food ingredient 120 (e.g., the second food ingredient 120 may be generally more moist than the first food ingredient 110) or vice versa. The first food ingredient 1 10 may have an upper face generally facing toward a lower face of the second food ingredient 120. For example, the first food ingredient 1 10 and second food ingredient 120 may have different water content ratios at and/or near the respective upper and lower faces thereof. It should be appreciated that the terms "upper" and "lower" are used for ease of description (in reference to FIG. 1A) and that the food product assembly 100 may have any number of suitable orientations, such that the described upper and lower faces may be positioned at any suitable orientation or arrangement relative to any plane in a three-dimensional space.

[027] In an example, the first food ingredient 1 10 may include a baked or toasted edible ingredient, such as a baked mixture including corn grits and rice powder and the second food ingredient 120 may include one or more cooked, boiled, or otherwise processed edible ingredients, such as mashed potatoes. Processing of the edible ingredient(s) included in the first food ingredient 1 10 and/or second food ingredient 120 may affect the water content ratios thereof. For example, preparing or cooking the edible ingredients by conductively transferring heat thereto (e.g., grilling, toasting, etc.) and/or by convectively heating the edible ingredients with a non-water-containing medium, such as heating with air (e.g., baking, broiling, etc.) may produce edible ingredients that have lower water ratios than raw edible ingredients and/or than edible ingredients that have been processed using a water-containing medium (e.g., by boiling). In an example, a baked mixture that may be included in the first food ingredient 110 may have a lower water content ratio (e.g., after baking) than one or more boiled ingredients (e.g., mashed potatoes) that may be included in the second food ingredient 120.

[028] In an embodiment, the food product assembly 100 may include a separator 130 positioned between the first food ingredient 110 and the second food ingredient 120. Generally, the separator 130 may include or comprise any number of suitable materials. For example, the separator 130 may include one or more inedible materials. Moreover, the inedible materials of the separator 130 may be one or more of water-resistant, waterproof, moisture-resistant, steam-resistant, oil-resistant, or fluid-resistant.

[029] In an example, the water-resistant or waterproof separator 130 may block or at least partially inhibit or prevent moisture- transfer (e.g., vapor transfer and/or liquid- transfer) from the second food ingredient 120 to the first food ingredient 110 or vice versa. For example, as noted above, the second food ingredient 120 may have a higher water content ratio than the first food ingredient 1 10. The separator 130 may be positioned between the first food ingredient 110 and the second food ingredient 120 such as to block or inhibit transfer of moisture or water from the second food ingredient 120 to the first food ingredient 1 10. In an example, the separator 130 may be in direct contact with the upper face of the first food ingredient 110 and with the lower face of the second food ingredient 120 (e.g., the separator 130 may be sandwiched between the first food ingredient 110 and second food ingredient 120).

[030] In at least one example, the separator 130 may include a plastic material (e.g., thermoplastic, thermoset, etc.), such as plastic sheeting, plastic film (e.g., polyethylene film, nylon film, etc.), etc. Additionally or alternatively, the separator 130 may include wax paper or paperboard, resin-coated paperboard, etc. that may resist or at least partially block transfer of water and/or moisture from the second food ingredient 120 to the first food ingredient 110. Hence, for example, the separator 130 may prevent or limit the first food ingredient 1 10 from becoming soggy or having increased moisture or water content due to the water or moisture transferred thereto from the second food ingredient 120. Generally, the separator 130 may have any suitable thickness. For example, the wax paper separator can have a thickness that is in or more of the following ranges: from about 10 μιη to about 50 μηι; from about 30 μιη to about 80 μηι; from about 70 μιη to about 150 urn; from about 100 μηι to about 300 μιη. In one or more examples, the thickness of the separator 130 may be less tha 10 μηι or greater than 300 μηι.

[031] Additionally or alternatively, one or more surfaces of the separator 130 may include one or more hydrophobic and or oleophobic materials or coatings that are compatible with edible ingredients and/or non-reactive therewith, and which may at least partially repel water, oil, and any other suitable component or ingredient (e.g., one or more components in liquid phase) of the first food ingredient 1 10 or second food ingredient 120 from the respective surfaces of the separator 130. Suitable materials and/or coatings may include Teflon, silicone, paraffin wax, other waxes, etc. Hence, such separator 130 may prevent or limit transfer of the repelled components or ingredients from the second food ingredient 120 to the first food ingredient 1 10 and vice versa. For example, the second food ingredient 120 may include one or more fried edible ingredients that may have a higher oil content ratio than the oil content ratio of the first food ingredient 110. The separator 130 may block or limit transfer of the oil from the second food ingredient 120 to the first food ingredient 1 10. In any event, in at least one example before heating the first and second food ingredients 1 10, 120, the separator 130 may be configured to limit or block fluid flow or transfer from the second food ingredient 120 and first food ingredient 1 10 (and vice versa), thereby maintaining substantially the same fluid content of each of the first food ingredient 1 10 and second food ingredient 120 (e.g., as the fluid content was in the originally-packaged first food ingredient 1 10 and/or second food ingredient 120, respectively).

[032] Generally, the food product assembly 100 may include any number of suitable food ingredients and/or edible ingredients that may comprise the food ingredients. Moreover, the food ingredients may be combined together in any number of suitable arrangements and/or configurations. FIG. IB is a partial side elevational view of a food product assembly 100a, according to an example. Except as otherwise described herein, the food product assembly 100a and its elements and components may be similar to or the same as the food product assembly 100 (FIG. lA) and its corresponding elements and components. For example, the food product assembly 100a may include a first food ingredient 1 10a and second food ingredient 120a separated by a separator 130a. which may be similar to or the same as the respective first food ingredient 1 10, the second food ingredient 120, and the separator 130 of the food product assembly 100 (FIG. 1A). [033] As shown in the illustrated example, the food product assembly 100a may include a third food ingredient 140a positioned adjacent to the second food ingredient 120a. Generally, the third food ingredient 140a may include any number of suitable edible ingredients. For example, one, some, or each of the edible ingredients comprising the third food ingredient 140a may be similar to or the same as one, some, or each of the edible ingredients comprising the first food ingredient 1 10a and/or the second food ingredient 120a.

[034] In an example, the third food ingredient 140a may be similar to or the same as the first food ingredient 110a. For example, the third food ingredient 140a may have the same or similar water content ratio as the first food ingredient 110a. Hence, in at least one example, the water content ratio of the third food ingredient 140a may be lower than the water content ratio of the second food ingredient 120a.

[035] In an example, the food product assembly 100a may include a second separator 130a' that may be positioned between and may separate the third food ingredient 140a from the second food ingredient 120a. The separator i 30a " may be similar to or the same as the separator 130a. For example, the separator 130a' may be in direct contact with the second food ingredient 120a and with the third food ingredient 140a (e.g., with respective upper and lower faces thereof). As mentioned above, the separator 130a' may include water-resistant materials, waterproof materials, fluid-resistant materials, etc., that may block or impede transfer of water, oil, fluids, etc., that the second food ingredient 120a may contain in higher proportions than the third food ingredient 140a.

[036] As mentioned above, the food product assembly 100a may include food ingredients (comprising or including edible ingredients) that have been previously processed (e.g., cooked via baking, broiling, boiling, grilling, smoking or dehydrating, etc.). Moreover, in an example, the food product assembly 100a may be heated before consumption (e.g., to improve the consumer experience as compared with consuming cold meals). For example, any of the food assemblies described herein may be heated or warmed by subjecting the food product assembly to microwave radiation (e.g., in a microwave oven), such as to cook the food ingredients thereof and/or to enhance the flavor of the food ingredients.

[037] Generally, one or more portions of the food product assembly may be conductively heated. FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a food packaging system 200 that may be configured to conductively heat one or more portions of a food product assembly positioned thereon (e.g., when the food packaging system 200 together with the food product assembly are exposed to microwave radiation), according to one or more examples. In an example, the food packaging system 200 may include one or more susceptor elements, such as susceptor elements 210, shown in FIG. 2, which may be arranged to conductively heat a food product assembly. Generally, the susceptor elements 210 may include any number of suitable materials and/or may have any number of suitable shapes and sizes that may vary from one example to another. In the illustrated example, the susceptor elements 210 have a generally elongated or strip-like shape (e.g., a substantially straight strip). Moreover, the susceptor elements 210 may have generally square or rectangular shapes. It should be appreciated, however, that the shapes of the susceptor elements may vary from one embodiment to the next. For example, one, some, or each of the susceptor elements may be substantially elliptical, circular, irregular- shaped, etc. Moreover, the susceptor elements 210 may form or define any number of suitable patterns, such as weave patterns, hatch or cross-hatch patterns, etc.

[038] In an example, the susceptor elements 210 may have a length 211 that may maximize heating or an increase in temperature thereof responsive to exposure to microwave radiation. For example, the one or more susceptor elements 210 may exhibit a generally elongated shape having the length 21 1 that is about one half of a wavelength of microwave radiation. In some examples, the susceptor elements 210 may be exposed to microwave radiation that has a wavelength of about 12 cm. Hence, for example, the susceptor elements 210 may have the length 21 1 of about 6 cm. In an example, the length 21 1 of the susceptor elements 210 may be in one or more of the following ranges: from about 1 cm to about 4 cm; from about 3 cm to about 9 cm; from about 6 cm to about 11 cm; from about 8 cm to about 20 cm. It should be appreciated, however, that the length 21 1 of any of the susceptor elements 210 may be less than 1 cm or greater than 20 cm.

[039] Furthermore, the susceptor elements 210 may include or comprise any number of materials suitable for receiving microwave radiation and suitably increasing in temperature responsive thereto (e.g., increasing in temperature in a maimer that would heat one or more portions of the food product assembly). For example, the susceptor elements 210 may include one or more electrically or thermally conductive materials. Suitable materials for the susceptor elements 210 include aluminum-containing materials (e.g., aluminum alloy sheets), metaiized film (e.g., aluminized film), copper, steel (e.g., stainless steel), suitable ceramics (e.g., silicon carbide), etc. [040] In an example, the susceptor elements 2 10 may be coupled to a wall 220 of the food packaging system 200. As described below in more detail, the food packaging system 200 may include multiple walls. Hence, for example, the susceptor elements 210 may be coupled to more than one of the walls of the food packaging system 200. In any event, in one or more examples, one or more food product assemblies may be positioned over and'Or in contact with the susceptor elements 210, such that the susceptor elements 210 may heat the food ingredients of the food product assemblies (e.g., convectively heat the food ingredients when the susceptor elements 210 are exposed to microwave radiation) and/or may brown one or more portions thereof. In some examples, the susceptor elements may be positioned to provide a "grill-mark" type of effect on portions of the food product when heated via microwave energy.

[041] Generally, the susceptor elements 210 may be attached to the wall 220 with any number of suitable attachments. For example, a film (e.g., a polyethylene film, a polyethylene terephthalate film, etc.) may attach one, some, or each of the susceptor elements 210 to the wall 220 (e.g., the film may be heat-laminated or adhesively attached to the wall 220 and may at least partially cover the susceptor elements 210, thereby securing the susceptor elements 210 to the wall 220). Additionally or alternatively, the susceptor elements 210 may be mechanically secured to the wall 220. For example, the wall 220 may include one or more perforations therein and one or more corresponding portions of one, some, or each of the susceptor elements 210 can be extended through such perforations and folded to form and lip or undercut, thereby securing the respective susceptor element 210 to the wall 220.

[042] The food packaging system 200 and elements and or components thereof may include any number of materials suitable for heating, storing, or otherwise contacting food ingredients that may be positioned and/or stored in the food packaging system 200. For example, the wail 220 may include or be formed from food-safe paperboard. In some examples, the food packaging system 200 may include one or more recyclable materials, which may facilitate an easy and suitable disposal thereof (e.g., after a single use by a consumer).

[043] Generally, the container of a food packaging system may be any of a number of suitable shapes and/or sizes, which shapes or sizes may be defined by the configuration of one or more walls thereof (e.g., the walls of the food packaging system may be configured to at least partially enclose the food product assembly in an interior space of the food packaging system).

[044] FIGS. 3A-3C are illustrations of a food packaging system 200a according to one or more examples. In particular, FIG. 3A is a top perspective view of the food packaging system 200a in an open configuration, FIG. 3B is a top perspective view of the food packaging system 200a in the open configuration with a food product assembly 100b positioned therein, and FIG. 3C is a perspective view of the food packaging system 200a in a closed configuration. Except as otherwise described herein, the food packaging system 200a and its elements and components may be similar to or the same as the food packaging system 200 (FIG. 2) and its corresponding elements and components. For example, the food packaging system 200a may include susceptor elements 210a positioned on and/or coupled to a wall 220a. Moreover, the food product assembly 100b may be similar- to or the same as any food product assembly described herein.

[045] In the illustrated example, the food packaging system 200a includes multiple walls 220a-229a that collectively form or define the shape of the food packaging system 200a and of an interior space thereof. For example, the walls 220a-229a may be configured and arranged such as to define a generally rectangular prismoid shape of the interior space, when the food packaging system 200a is in the closed configuration (as shown in FIG. 3C). In some examples, the walls 220a-229a may include walls 220a and 225a (e.g., the walls 220a and 225a may have greater surface area than other walls of the walls 220a- 229a). For example, at least in the closed configuration (shown in FIG. 3C), the two walls 220a, 225a may be substantially planar and generally oppose each other. Moreover, at least one of the two walls 220a, 225a may be configured to support and orient the food packaging system on a support surface (e.g., the wall 220a may form or define a base of the food packaging system 200a).

[046] As mentioned above, the food product assembly 100b may be positioned inside the food packaging system 200a (e.g., in the interior space thereof) and surrounded by one or more of the walls 220a-229a of the food packaging system 200. Moreover, the food product assembly 100b may include one or more removable separators that may separate two or more food ingredients thereof. In an example, the food packaging system 200a may be configured such as to allow removal of the separators from the food product assembly 100b while the food product assembly 100b remains inside the food packaging system 200a (e.g., the separators may be removed while the food packaging system 200a is at least partially or substantially closed). For example, the food packaging system 200a may include one or more openings or apertures, such as apertures 230a, 230a', that may facilitate positioning the separator{s) at least partially outside or at the exterior of the food packaging system 200a. In an example, one or more of the apertures 230a, 230a' may be slot-shaped (e.g., may have a generally rectangular shape).

[047] In the illustrated example, the food packaging system 200a includes overlapping or double walls (e.g., the walls 224a and 226a may be positioned adjacent to each other when the food packaging system 200a is in the closed configuration). Hence, for example, the apertures 230a, 230a' may be sized and positioned such that when the food packaging system 200a is in the closed configuration, the apertures 230a, 230a' may be configured to generally align in a manner that forms an opening that may accept the separator passing therethrough (e.g., as shown in FIG. 3C). Moreover, as shown in FIG. 3C, separators 130b/130b' of the food product assembly 100b may be configured to extend from the interior space of the food packaging system 200a, through the apertures(s) in the food packaging system 200a, and to the exterior of the food packaging system 200a.

[048] A consumer may pull the separators 130b/130b' outward and out of the food ingredients of the food product assembly 100b (e.g., before heating the food ingredients of the food product assembly 100b). For example, after removing the separators 130b/130b', the food packaging system 200a together with the food ingredients of the food product assembly 100b may be positioned in a microwave oven and exposed to microwave radiation. As described above, exposing the susceptor elements 210a to microwave radiation (e.g., 12 cm wavelength radiation) may heat the susceptor elements 210a; the heat from the susceptor elements 210a may be transferred to the food ingredient of the food product assembly 100b that is in contact with the susceptor elements 210a (e.g., conductively transferred), thereby browning one or more portions of the food ingredient(s) in contact therewith.

[049] In an example, the food product assembly 100b may remain in the food packaging system 200a (e.g., in a closed food packaging system 200a), as the separators 130b 130b' are removed from the food product assembly 100b. That is, for example, the food ingredients of the food product assembly 100b may be heated and/or prepared for consumption without removal thereof from the food packaging system 200a. For example, after exposure to microwave radiation, the heated food ingredients of the food product assembly 100b may be firmer than before the exposure, such that the food product assembly 100b is easier to remove from the food packaging system 200a (e.g., without damaging or breaking the food product assembly 100b). Hence, for example, removing the separators 130b/ 130b' from the food product assembly 100b, while the food product assembly 100b remains in the food packaging system 200a may facilitate preparing a meal that comprises the food ingredients of the food product assembly 100b without breaking or damaging the structural integrity of the food ingredients. In an example, the separators 130b/130b' may facilitate maintaining crispness of one or more food ingredients in the food product assembly 100b (e.g., by preventing or limiting the amount of liquid transferred from one food ingredient to another). For example, after the food product assembly 100b is prepared for consumption (e.g., by exposing the food product assembly 100b to microwave radiation), one or more food ingredients may be crisp or have a relatively low water content ratio (e.g., similar to a toasted bread , waffle, cracker, etc.) , and one or more food ingredients may be relatively moist (e.g., cheese, ham, je , etc.).

[050] As described below in more detail, in at least one example, the food packaging system 200a may include a closure element that may be configured to move in a manner that provides access to the interior of the food packaging system 200a. For example, walls 225a-229a may define the closure element of the food packaging system 200a, which may be configured to move (e.g., pivot) relative to the walls 220a-224a in a manner that reconfigures the food packaging system 200a, between open and closed positions, such that the food product assembly 100b may be removed therefrom. In any event, for example, the food packaging system 200a may include one or more portions configured to open in a manner that provides access to the contents in the interior space of the food packaging system 200a (e.g., access to the food product assembly 100b).

[051] Alternatively, the food packaging system 200a may be opened, and the food product assembly 100b may be removed therefrom to remove the separators 13 Ob/130b' from the food product assembly 100b. For example, after removing the separatorsl 30b/130b', the food product assembly 100b may be placed inside the food packaging system 200a. Furthermore, the food packaging system 200a together with the food product assembly 100b may be exposed to microwave radiation to prepare the food product assembly 100b for consumption. [052] In an example, the separators may include or comprise a microwave-safe material (e.g., plastic material of suitable thickness). For example, the separators 130b/130b' may be maintained inside the food product assembly 100b (e.g., between two or more food ingredients) as the food packaging system 200a together with the food product assembly 100b are exposed to microwave radiation. After exposing the food packaging system 200a and the food product assembly 100b to the microwave radiation, the separators 130b/130b' may be removed from the food product assembly 100b (e.g., the food product assembly 100b may be removed from the food packaging system 200a and the separators 130b/130b' may be removed from the food product assembly 100b before consumption).

[053] In at least one example, the food packaging system 200a may include a cover that may be configured to secure one or more the portions of the separators 130b/ 130b', which may be positioned on the exterior of the food packaging system 200a. Additionally or alternatively, the cover may close the opening through which the separators 130b/130b' extend from the interior space of the food packaging system 200a to the exterior thereof. For example, the cover may suitable close or seal the opening (e.g., hermetically), such as to prevent or inhibit spoilage of the food ingredients of the food product assembly 100b.

[054] In an example, the cover may be detachable or detachably attached or secured to one or more of the walls of the food packaging system 200a (e.g., to the wall 226a). For example, the cover may be attached with a suitable adhesive in a manner that may facilitate detaching the cover to access and remove the separators 130b/130b' from the food product assembly 100b. Moreover, in at least one example, the cover may at least partially secure the separators 130b/130b'. For example, the separators 130b/130b' maybe secured between the cover and one or more of the walls of the food packaging system 200a. Alternatively or additionally, an adhesive may secure the cover to one or more walls of the food packaging system 200a (e.g., the cover may be heat-sealed or adhesively secured to one or more walls). Suitable adhesives include terpene-based adhesion materials, chlorination polyolefin, urethane, poly epoxy, etc.

[055] As mentioned above, the food packaging system may have any number of suitable shapes and/or configurations that may vary from one embodiment to the next. FIGS. 4A- 4C illustrate a food packaging system 200b that secures the food product assembly 100c, according to one or more examples. In particular, FIG. 4A is an isometric view of the food packaging system 200b in an open configuration (the food product assembly 100c is partially visible therein); FIG. 4B is an isometric view of the food packaging system 200b in a closed configuration, such that the food product assembly 100c may be concealed by the walls of the food packaging system 200b; FIG. 4C is an isometric view of the food packaging system 200b in the closed configuration with a closed cover, closing {e.g., sealing) the aperture in the food packaging system 200b. Except as otherwise described herein, the food packaging system 200b and its elements and components may be similar to or the same as any of the food packaging systems 200, 200a (FIGS. 2-3C) and their corresponding elements and components.

[056] For example, the food packaging system 200b may have a generally rectangular shape. Moreover, in at least one example, the interior space of the food packaging system 200b may be defined by walls 220b-229b (only edges of the walls 223b and 224b are visible in FIG. 4A). The walls 220b-229b may define a generally rectangular prismoidal shape of the interior space of the food packaging system 200b (e.g., suitable to accommodate the food product assembly 100c therein). In an example, the food packaging system 200b may include one or more susceptor elements (not visible in FIG. 4A) that may be opcrably coupled and or secured to one or more walls of the food packaging system 200b (e.g., to the wall 220b and<'or to the wall 222b).

[057] In the illustrated example, the food packaging system 200b includes a closure element defined by walls 225b-229b that may move or pivot relative to the wails 220b- 224b. In an example, movement or pivoting of the closure element (e.g., about a crease or pivot axis 240b) may reconfigure the food packaging system 200b between open and closed configurations. For example, in the open configuration, illustrated in FIG. 4A, the food product assembly 100c may be accessed and/or removed from the interior of the food packaging system 200b. It should be appreciated that, as mentioned above, the food packaging system 200b and the closure thereof may have any number of suitable shapes and/or sizes. For example, any number of walls may define the closure element (e.g., a single wall or multiple walls may define the closure element).

[058] In at least one example, the food product assembly 100c may be similar to or the same as any food product assembly described herein. For example, the food product assembly 100c may include a first food ingredient 110c, a second food ingredient 120c, and a third food ingredient 140c. Moreover, the separator 130c may separate the first food ingredient 110c from the second food ingredient 120c, and separator 130c' may separate the second food ingredient 120c from the third food ingredient 140c. In an example, the first and second food ingredients 110c, 120c may have different water content ratios (e.g., different amounts of moisture) and/or the second and third food ingredients 120c, 140c may have different water content ratios, and the respective separators 130c, 130c' may prevent or limit water or moisture increase in the food ingredients that have lower water content ratios.

[059] In an example, respective portions of the separators 130c, 130c' may extend from the interior space of the food packaging system 200b to the exterior thereof. The food packaging system 200b may include an aperture 230b, and the separators 130c, 130c' may extend from the interior of the food packaging system 200b, through the 230b, and to the exterior of the food packaging system 200b. For example, when the food packaging system 200b is in the closed configuration (as show r n in FIG. 4B), the separators 130c, 130c' may extend through the aperture 230b, such that the separators 130c, 130c' may be grasped and removed from the food product assembly 100b, such as prior to heating the food ingredients.

[060] In an example, the separators 130c, 130c' may be removed before the food product assembly 100c is exposed to microwave radiation. For example, the first and second food ingredients 1 10c, 120c may be placed into contact with each other and/or the second and third food ingredients 120c, 140c may be placed into contact with each other before the food product assembly 100b is exposed to the microwave radiation. Additionally or alternatively, one or more (e.g., both) of the separators 130c, 130c' may be removed after the exposing the food product assembly 100b to microwave radiation. For example, the first and second food ingredients 1 10c, 120c may be placed into contact with each other and/or the second and third food ingredients I20c, 140c may be placed into contact with each other after the food product assembly 100b is exposed to the microwave radiation and/or prepared for consumption.

[061] Generally, the aperture 230b may be located on and/or defined by any wall of the food packaging system 200b. In the illustrated example, the aperture 230b extends through the wall 228b that defines or forms the closure element of the food packaging system 200b. For example, the wall 228b together with the aperture 230b thereof may pivot relative to other walls of the food packaging system 200b, as the food packaging system 200b is reconfigured between the open and closed configurations.

[062] As described above, in at least one example, the food packaging system 200b may include an at least partially detachable cover, such as cover 250b. For example, when the cover 250b is at least partially detached from the corresponding wall(s), such as from the wall 228b, the separators separator 1 0c. separator 130c' may be exposed and/or accessible for removal from the food product assembly 100c. Conversely, as shown in FIG. 4C, when the cover 250b is attached to the corresponding wall(s), such as to the wall 228b, the aperture 230b may be at least partially or completely concealed or covered by the cover 250b. Furthermore, the cover 250b may secure one or more corresponding portions of the separators 130c, 130c' to the food packaging system 200b {e.g., to the wall 228b).

[063] As described above, the cover 250b may be at least partially detached {e.g., as shown in FIG. 4B), to access the separators 130c, 130c' and/or to detach the separators 130c, 130c' from the food packaging system 200b. For example, a consumer may remove the separators 130c, 130c' from the food product assembly 100c. Subsequently, the food packaging system 200b together with the food ingredients of the food product assembly 100c may be exposed to microwave radiation in a manner that heats and/or prepares the food ingredients for consumptions, as described herein.

[064] The present disclosure is not to be limited in terms of the particular examples described in this application, which are intended as illustrations of various aspects. Many modifications and examples may be made without departing from its spirit and scope, as will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Functionally equivalent methods and apparatuses within the scope of the disclosure, in addition to those enumerated herein, will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the foregoing descriptions. Such modifications and examples are intended to fall within the scope of the appended claims. The present disclosure is to be limited only by the terms of the appended claims, along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled. It is to be understood that this disclosure is not limited to particular methods, reagents, compounds compositions or biological systems, which may, of course, vary. It is also to be understood that the terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular examples only, and is not intended to be limiting.

[065] With respect to the use of substantially any plural and/or singular terms herein, those having skill in the art may translate from the plural to the singular and/or from the singular to the plural as is appropriate to the context and/or application. The various singular/plural permutations may be expressly set forth herein for sake of clarity.

[066] It will be understood by those within the art that, in general, terms used herein, and especially in the appended claims {e.g., bodies of the appended claims) are generally intended as "open" terms (e.g., the term "including" should be interpreted as "including but not limited to," the term "having" should be interpreted as "having at least," the term "includes" should be interpreted as "includes but is not limited to," etc.).

[067] It will be further understood by those within the art that if a specific number of an introduced claim recitation is intended, such an intent will be explicitly recited in the claim, and in the absence of such recitation no such intent is present. For example, as an aid to understanding, the following appended claims may contain usage of the introductory phrases "at least one" and "one or more" to introduce claim recitations. However, the use of such phrases should not be construed to imply that the introduction of a claim recitation by the indefinite articles "a" or "an" limits any particular claim containing such introduced claim recitation to examples containing only one such recitation, even when the same claim includes the introductory phrases "one or more" or "at least one" and indefinite articles such as "a" or "an" (e.g., "a" and/or "an" should be interpreted to mean "at least one" or "one or more"); the same holds true for the use of definite articles used to introduce claim recitations. In addition, even if a specific number of an introduced claim recitation is explicitly recited, those skilled in the art will recognize that such recitation should be interpreted to mean at least the recited number (e.g., the bare recitation of "two recitations," without other modifiers, means at least two recitations, or two or more recitations).

[068] Furthermore, in those instances where a convention analogous to "at least one of A, B, and C, etc." is used, in general such a construction is intended in the sense one having skill in the art would understand the convention (e.g., "a system having at least one of A, B, and C" would include but not be limited to systems that have A alone, B alone, C alone, A and B together, A and C together, B and C together, and/or A, B, and C together, etc.). In those instances where a convention analogous to "at least one of A, B, or C, etc." is used, in general such a construction is intended in the sense one having skill in the art would understand the convention (e.g., "a system having at least one of A, B, or C" would include but not be limited to systems that have A alone, B alone, C alone, A and B together, A and C together, B and C together, and/or A, B, and C together, etc.). It will be further understood by those within the art that virtually any disjunctive word and/or phrase presenting two or more alternative terms, whether in the description, claims, or drawings, should be understood to contemplate the possibilities of including one of the terms, either of the terms, or both terms. For example, the phrase "A or B" will be understood to include the possibilities of "A" or "B" or "A and B."

[069] In addition, where features or aspects of the disclosure are described in terms of Markush groups, those skilled in the art will recognize that the disclosure is also thereby described in terms of any individual member or subgroup of members of the Markush group.

[070] As will be understood by one skilled in the art, for any and all purposes, such as in terms of providing a written description, all ranges disclosed herein also encompass any and all possible subranges and combinations of subranges thereof. Any listed range may be easily recognized as sufficiently describing and enabling the same range being broken down into at least equal halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, tenths, etc. As a non-limiting example, each range discussed herein may be readily broken down into a lower third, middle third and upper third, etc. As will also be understood by one skilled in the art all language such as "up to," " " at least," "greater than," "less than," and the like include the number recited and refer to ranges which may be subsequently broken down into subranges as discussed above. Finally, as will be understood by one skilled in the art, a range includes each individual member. Thus, for example, a group having 1-3 items refers to groups having I, 2, or 3 items. Similarly, a group having 1-5 items refers to groups having 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 items, and so forth.

[071] The herein-described subject matter sometimes illustrates different components contained within, or connected with, different other components. It is to be understood that such depicted architectures are merely examples, and that in fact many other architectures may be implemented which achieve the same functionality. In a conceptual sense, any arrangement of components to achieve the same functionality is effectively "associated" such that the desired functionality is achieved. Hence, any two components herein combined to achieve a particular functionality may be seen as "associated with" each other such that the desired functionality is achieved, irrespective of architectures or intermedial components. Likewise, any two components so associated may also be viewed as being "operably connected", or "operably coupled", to each other to achieve the desired functionality, and any two components capable of being so associated may also be viewed as being "operably couplable", to each other to achieve the desired functionality. Specific examples of operably couplable include but are not limited to physically mateable and/or physically interacting components and/or wirelessly interactable and/or wirelessly interacting components and/or logically interacting and/or logically interac table components.

[072] While various aspects and examples have been disclosed herein, other aspects and examples will be apparent to those skilled in the art. The various aspects and examples disclosed herein are for purposes of illustration and are not intended to be limiting, with the true scope and spirit being indicated by the following claims.




 
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