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Title:
MULTI-COMPARTMENT RETORT PACKAGE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/054942
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A retortable package includes a body defining a perimeter and a peripheral seal formed along the perimeter of the body. The peripheral seal includes at least one peripheral self-venting region and at least one peripheral non-venting region. The retortable package further includes an intermediate seal formed within the perimeter of the body and contiguous with the peripheral seal. The intermediate seal divides the body into two compartments. The compartments receive respective products therein. Upon heating of the products, the intermediate seal ruptures before the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures. Further, the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures before the at least one peripheral non-venting region ruptures.

Inventors:
LAMB JAMES (US)
GLASER KEVIN (US)
UMPHLETT CAROL (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2019/051538
Publication Date:
March 25, 2021
Filing Date:
September 17, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BEMIS CO INC (US)
International Classes:
B65D81/34; B65D30/22; B65D30/24; B65D33/01; B65D81/32
Foreign References:
US20100159083A12010-06-24
US5075119A1991-12-24
GB2337978A1999-12-08
US20170253413A12017-09-07
US20150291342A12015-10-15
JP2000062857A2000-02-29
US3637132A1972-01-25
US20090314773A12009-12-24
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NETT, Lynn, M. (US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A retortable package comprising: a body defining a perimeter; a peripheral seal formed along the perimeter of the body, the peripheral seal comprising at least one peripheral self-venting region and at least one peripheral non-venting region; and an intermediate seal formed within the perimeter of the body and contiguous with the peripheral seal, the intermediate seal dividing the body into two compartments, the compartments receiving respective products therein; wherein, upon heating of the products, the intermediate seal ruptures before the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures, wherein the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures before the at least one peripheral non venting region ruptures.

2. The retortable package of claim l, the intermediate seal further comprises at least one intermediate self-venting region and at least one intermediate non-venting region, wherein the at least one intermediate self-venting region ruptures before the at least one intermediate non-venting region ruptures.

3. The retortable package of claim 2, wherein the least one intermediate self-venting region protrudes inwardly into one of the compartments relative to the at least one intermediate non-venting region of the intermediate seal.

4. The retortable package of claim 2, wherein a minimum width of the at least one intermediate self- venting region is less than a minimum width of the at least one intermediate non-venting region.

5. The retortable package of claim 2, wherein the at least one intermediate self venting region is V-shaped or curved.

6. The retortable package of claim l, wherein the body further comprises a top edge, a bottom edge, and a pair of side edges connecting the top and bottom edges, wherein the body further defines a longitudinal axis extending between the top edge and the bottom edge.

7. The retortable package of claim 6, wherein the intermediate seal is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body.

8. The retortable package of claim 6, wherein the intermediate seal is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the body.

9. The retortable package of claim 6, wherein the intermediate seal is inclined obliquely to the longitudinal axis of the body.

10. The retortable package of claim 1, wherein the peripheral seal comprises two peripheral self-venting regions disposed adjacent to one of the compartments.

11. The retortable package of claim 1, wherein each of the two compartments is adjacent to a peripheral self- venting region.

12. The retortable package of claim 1, wherein the body further comprises a gusset fold, the gusset fold forming a first folded region and a second folded region.

13. The retortable package of claim 12, wherein the intermediate seal further comprises a main portion disposed above the gusset fold, a first branch portion disposed in the first folded region, and a second branch portion disposed in the second folded region.

14. The retortable package of claim 1, wherein a width of the intermediate seal is from 2 mm to 8 mm.

15. The retortable package of claim 1, wherein a width of the peripheral seal is greater than 6 mm.

16. The retortable package of claim 1, wherein the peripheral seal has a peel strength of greater than 2500 gram-force/inch.

17. The retortable package of claim 1, wherein at least 50% of a length of the intermediate seal ruptures upon heating of the products.

18. A packaged product comprising: a retortable package comprising: a body defining a perimeter; a peripheral seal formed along the perimeter of the body, the peripheral seal comprising at least one peripheral self-venting region and at least one peripheral non-venting region; and an intermediate seal formed within the perimeter of the body and contiguous with the peripheral seal, the intermediate seal dividing the body into a first compartment and a second compartment sealed from the first compartment; a first product received within the first compartment; and a second product received within the second compartment; wherein, upon heating of the first and second products, at least 50% of a length of the intermediate seal ruptures and the first and second products mix together, wherein the intermediate seal ruptures before the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures, wherein the at least one peripheral self venting region ruptures before the at least one peripheral non-venting region ruptures.

19. A retortable package comprising: a body defining a perimeter, the body comprising a gusset fold forming a first folded region and a second folded region; a peripheral seal formed along the perimeter of the body, the peripheral seal comprising at least one peripheral self-venting region and at least one peripheral non-venting region, wherein the peripheral seal is at least partially peelable; and an intermediate seal formed within the perimeter of the body and contiguous with the peripheral seal, the intermediate seal dividing the body into two compartments, the compartments receiving respective products therein, wherein the intermediate seal further comprises a main portion disposed above the gusset fold, a first branch portion disposed in the first folded region, and a second branch portion disposed in the second folded region; wherein, upon heating of the products, the intermediate seal ruptures before the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures, wherein the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures before the at least one peripheral non venting region ruptures.

Description:
MULTI-COMPARTMENT RETORT PACKAGE

TECHNICAL FIELD

[001] The present application relates generally to multi-compartment packages, and to self-venting retortable packages and packaged products including those packages.

BACKGROUND

[002] Retort operations are used for the sterilization and thermal processing of food or other products contained within its primary packaging components.

Food packed in a retort package, such as a pouch, is transferred to an autoclave where it is subjected to temperatures generally exceeding the boiling point of water for an extended period. The autoclave process also uses over-pressure to complete the sterilization step.

[003] Conventional packages meant for use in microwave ovens cannot tolerate retort conditions without seal failure or other detrimental effects. Some containers, known to withstand retort conditions, cannot adequately vent internal pressures arising from microwave heating, or at least not in a controlled manner. Inadequate venting may cause sudden, undesirable bursting of the container and loss/splattering of its contents.

[004] In certain applications, a packaged product that contains more than one type of food item is desirable. However, retorting a combination of two food items can adversely affect a quality of the final product. Therefore, mixing of the food items prior to the retort sterilization process is not desirable. Conventional containers typically require a user to manually open a portion of the package and then mix the food items, either prior to or after microwave heating.

SUMMARY

[005] A multi-compartment retortable package has been developed that can be used to package two products without mixing. The retortable package can maintain seal strength even after being subjected to retort conditions. After retorting, the package can be subjected to microwave heating during which the two products combine. The two products are combined without any manual intervention. Further, the retortable package may vent but does not fail or disintegrate upon microwave heating.

[006] One embodiment of the retortable package includes a body defining a perimeter and a peripheral seal formed along the perimeter of the body. The peripheral seal includes at least one peripheral self-venting region and at least one peripheral non-venting region. The peripheral seal is at least partially peelable. The retortable package further includes an intermediate seal formed within the perimeter of the body and contiguous with the peripheral seal. The intermediate seal divides the body into two compartments. The compartments receive respective products therein. Upon heating of the products, the intermediate seal ruptures before the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures. Further, the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures before the at least one peripheral non-venting region ruptures.

[007] In some embodiments, the intermediate seal further includes at least one intermediate self-venting region and at least one intermediate non-venting region. The at least one intermediate self -venting region ruptures before the at least one intermediate non-venting region ruptures.

[008] In some embodiments, the least one intermediate self-venting region protrudes inwardly into one of the compartments relative to the at least one intermediate non-venting region of the intermediate seal.

[009] In some embodiments, a minimum width of the at least one intermediate self-venting region is less than a minimum width of the at least one intermediate non-venting region.

[010] In some embodiments, the at least one intermediate self-venting region is V-shaped or curved.

]011] In some embodiments, the body further includes a top edge, a bottom edge, and a pair of side edges connecting the top and bottom edges. The body further defines a longitudinal axis extending between the top edge and the bottom edge. [012] In some embodiments, the intermediate seal is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body.

[013] In some embodiments, the intermediate seal is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the body.

[014] In some embodiments, the intermediate seal is inclined obliquely to the longitudinal axis of the body.

[015] In some embodiments, the peripheral seal includes two peripheral self venting regions disposed adjacent to one of the compartments.

[016] In some embodiments, the peripheral seal includes two peripheral self venting regions. Each peripheral self-venting region is disposed adjacent to a respective compartment from the two compartments.

[017] In some embodiments, the body further includes a gusset fold. The gusset fold forms a first folded region and a second folded region.

[018] In some embodiments, the intermediate seal further includes a main portion disposed above the gusset fold, a first branch portion disposed in the first folded region, and a second branch portion disposed in the second folded region.

[019] In some embodiments, a width of the intermediate seal is from about 2 mm to about 8 mm.

[020] In some embodiments, a width of the peripheral seal is greater than about 6 mm.

[021] In some embodiments, the peripheral seal has a peel strength of greater than about 2500 gram-force/inch.

]022] In some embodiments, at least 50% of a length or an area of the intermediate seal ruptures upon heating of the products.

[023] One embodiment of a packaged product includes a retortable package.

The retortable package includes a body defining a perimeter and a peripheral seal formed along the perimeter of the body. The peripheral seal includes at least one peripheral self-venting region and at least one peripheral non-venting region.

The peripheral seal is at least partially peelable. The retortable package further includes an intermediate seal formed within the perimeter of the body and contiguous with the peripheral seal. The intermediate seal divides the body into a first compartment and a second compartment sealed from the first compartment. The packaged product further includes a first product received within the first compartment and a second product received within the second compartment. Upon heating of the first and second products, at least 50% of a length or an area of the intermediate seal ruptures and the first and second products mix together. The intermediate seal ruptures before the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures. Further, the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures before the at least one peripheral non-venting region ruptures.

[024] In some embodiments, the first product and the second product have different water contents.

[025] In some embodiments, the first compartment and the second compartment have different volumes.

[026] One embodiment of a retortable package includes a body defining a perimeter and a peripheral seal formed along the perimeter of the body. The body includes a gusset fold forming a first folded region and a second folded region. The peripheral seal includes at least one peripheral self-venting region and at least one peripheral non-venting region. The peripheral seal is at least partially peelable. The retortable package further includes an intermediate seal formed within the perimeter of the body and contiguous with the peripheral seal. The intermediate seal divides the body into two compartments. The compartments receive respective products therein. The intermediate seal further includes a main portion disposed above the gusset fold, a first branch portion disposed in the first folded region, and a second branch portion disposed in the second folded region. Upon heating of the products, the intermediate seal ruptures before the at least one peripheral self-venting region raptures. Further, the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures before the at least one peripheral non- venting region ruptures.

[027] There are several aspects of the present subject matter which may be embodied separately or together. These aspects may be employed alone or in combination with other aspects of the subject matter described herein, and the description of these aspects together is not intended to preclude the use of these aspects separately or the claiming of such aspects separately or in different combinations.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

(028] The disclosure may be more completely understood in consideration of the following detailed description of various embodiments of the disclosure in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

(029] FIG. lA is a schematic plan view of a container;

(030] FIG. lB is a schematic sectional view of the container taken along a line A-

A’ in FIG. lA;

(031] FIGS. 2A-2D depict an exemplary use of a packaged product;

(032] FIG. 3A is a schematic plan view of a container;

(033] FIG. 3B is a schematic sectional view of the container taken along a line B-

B’ in FIG. 3A.

(034] FIG. 3C is a schematic sectional view of the container taken along a line E- E’ in FIG. 3A.

[035] FIG. 4A is a schematic plan view of a container;

(036] FIG. 4B is a schematic sectional view of the container taken along a line C-

C’ in FIG. 4A;

[037] FIG. 5A is a schematic plan view of a container;

[038] FIG. 5B is a schematic sectional view of the container taken along a line D-

D’ in FIG. 5A; and

[039] FIGS. 6A-6D depict various self-venting regions that are suitable for containers described herein.

[040] The drawings show some but not all embodiments. The elements depicted in the drawings are illustrative and not necessarily to scale, and the same (or similar) reference numbers denote the same (or similar) features throughout the drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[041] The present application describes a retortable package and a packaged product including the retortable package. The retortable package includes a body defining a perimeter and a peripheral seal formed along the perimeter of the body. The peripheral seal includes at least one peripheral self-venting region and at least one peripheral non-venting region. The peripheral seal is at least partially peelable. The retortable package further includes an intermediate seal formed within the perimeter of the body and contiguous with the peripheral seal. The intermediate seal divides the body into two compartments. The compartments receive respective products therein. Upon heating of the products, the intermediate seal ruptures before the at least one peripheral self-venting region raptures. Further, the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures before the at least one peripheral non-venting region raptures.

[042] The intermediate seal ruptures due to an increase in pressure within one or both compartments. Such pressure is normally attained upon heating the retortable package in a microwave oven to bring the product therein to a sufficient temperature to vaporize water or ice in the packaged products and/or cause significant expansion of the enclosed gases. Rupture of the intermediate seal allows the products to combine. The retortable package may therefore enable mixing of the products without any manual intervention. The intermediate seal raptures before the one or more peripheral self -venting regions rupture. This preferential rupture sequence can be achieved by geometry (e.g., an inward protrusion), seal width (e.g., less seal width), sealing conditions (e.g., lower sealing temperature, time and/or pressure), design of the compartments, and/or properties of the products (e.g., water content). After the rapture of the intermediate seal, venting of gases may occur at the peripheral self-venting regions. The peripheral self-venting regions can allow a controlled release of internal pressure, thereby avoiding sudden, undesirable bursting of the retortable package and loss/splattering of its contents. The retortable package can also be subject to retort conditions without compromising the integrity of the intermediate seal and the peripheral seal.

[043] FIGS. lA and lB each depict an exemplary self-venting retortable package loo (hereinafter referred to as “package loo”) including a body 102 defining a perimeter 104. Package 100 further includes a peripheral seal 106 formed along perimeter 104 of body 102. Body 102 further includes a top edge 104A, a bottom edge 104B, and a pair of side edges 104C connecting top and bottom edges 104A, 104B. Body 102 further defines a longitudinal axis “LAi” extending between top edge 104A and bottom edge 104B. Each of top edge 104A, bottom edge 104B, and side edges 104C may be linear, curved, or a combination of both. Peripheral seal 106 therefore extends along top edge 104A, bottom edge 104B and side edges 104C. In some embodiments of the retortable package, the peripheral seal 106 extends along top edge 104A and side edges 104C, and bottom edge 104B comprises a fold in the body material. The peripheral seal 106 may extend along the perimeter 104, exactly on the edges or slightly offset from one or more of the edges.

[044J Peripheral seal 106 may be formed from heating and compressing overlapping layers of multilayer films at perimeter 104 of body 102. For example, peripheral seal 106 may be formed from heat sealing overlapping portions of a single multilayer film, separate multilayer films, or a multilayer film and a package bottom that may be formed of a rigid or flexible plastic material.

[045] Peripheral seal 106 includes at least one peripheral self-venting region 106A and at least one peripheral non-venting region 106B. As shown in FIG. lA, peripheral seal 106 includes two peripheral self-venting regions 106A and two peripheral non-venting regions 106B. Peripheral self-venting regions 106A are interchangeably referred to as self-venting regions 106A. Similarly, peripheral non-venting regions 106B are interchangeably referred to as non venting regions 106B. Each non-venting region 106B is continuous. In FIG. lA, self-venting regions 106A is located on respective side edges 104C of body 102. However, number and location of self-venting regions 106A may be varied as per application requirements.

[046] Self-venting regions 106A and non-venting regions 106B may have different seal shapes or geometries, seal widths and/or sealing conditions (sealing time, temperature, pressure etc.). Seal width maybe measured along a width dimension that is perpendicular to perimeter 104 of body 102 along which peripheral seal 106 extends. In FIG. lA, each self-venting region 106A may have a curved shape, for example, a partial circle (such as a semi-circle), or a partial ellipse (such as a semi-ellipse). In alternative embodiments, each self-venting region 106A may be V-shaped. Further, each non-venting region 106B is substantially linear along its length.

[047] According to representative embodiments, a width “Wi” of peripheral seal 106 is greater than about 6 mm. Width “Wi” of peripheral seal 106 may be substantially constant or vary along perimeter 104. For example, a minimum width of each self- venting region 106A may be less than or equal to a minimum width of each non-venting region 106B. Further, peripheral seal 106 is at least partially peelable. For example, peripheral seal 106 is at least peelable at top edge 104A of body 102. According to representative embodiments, peripheral seal 106 has a peel strength of greater than about 2500 gram-force/inch.

[048] Body 102 further includes a gusset fold 108 (indicated with a horizontal dashed line in FIG. lA) at a level near bottom edge 104B of body 102. Gusset fold 108 may extend substantially perpendicular to longitudinal axis “LAi” of body 102. Further, gusset fold 108 may be substantially parallel to bottom edge 104B. As shown in FIG. lB, gusset fold 108 forms a first folded region 110A and a second folded region 110B. Gusset fold 108 may be inserted to provide a specific package type, namely a gusseted pouch, having the capability of being free standing. In general, however, aspects of the application discussed herein are broadly applicable to a wide variety of package types, including pouches having at least one, and preferably at least two, peripheral heat seals. In addition to stand-up pouches, pillow pouches are also representative.

[049] Package 100 further includes an intermediate seal 112 formed within perimeter 104 of body 102 and contiguous with peripheral seal 106.

Intermediate seal 112 divides body 102 into two compartments 114A, 114B. Compartments 114A, 114B receive respective products therein. As shown in FIG. lA, intermediate seal 112 is perpendicular to longitudinal axis “LAi” of body 102. Compartment 114A is positioned between top edge 104A and intermediate seal 112, while compartment 114B is positioned between intermediate seal 112 and bottom edge 104B. Compartment 114A may be interchangeably referred to as a first compartment 114A, while compartment 114B may be interchangeably referred to as a second compartment 114B. Therefore, intermediate seal 112 divides body 102 into first compartment 114A and second compartment 114B sealed from first compartment II4A. In some embodiments, first and second compartments 114A, 114B have different volumes. In alternative embodiments, first and second compartments 114A, 114B have substantially similar volumes. As shown in FIG. lA, two peripheral self-venting regions 106A are disposed adjacent to one of compartments 114A, 114B, i.e., first compartment 114A. However, in alternative embodiments, each self -venting region 106A may be disposed adjacent to a respective compartment 114A or 114B from two compartments 114A, 114B. In other words, venting may be provided in each of first and second compartments 114A, 114B. Self-venting regions 106A protrude inwardly into compartment 114A relative to non-venting regions 106B.

[0501 In some embodiments, a first product is received within first compartment 114A. A second product in received within second compartment 114B. In some embodiments, the first product and the second product have different water contents. Package 100 along with first and second products received within first and second compartments 114A, 114B, respectively, form a packaged product. The packaged product may be subject to retort conditions for sterilization of first and second products. Body 102, peripheral seal 106 and intermediate seal 112 may be configured to withstand retort conditions and microwave cooking without delamination, separation or degradation. Specifically, intermediate seal 112 and peripheral seal 106 may not include any film layer that melts under temperatures typically encountered in retort processing.

[051] Intermediate seal 112 is further positioned between top edge 104A and gusset fold 108. Intermediate seal 112 further extends between side edges 104C. In some embodiments, intermediate seal 112 may be positioned mid-way between top and bottom edges 104A, 104B. However, the position of intermediate seal 112 may vary as per application requirements. In some alternative embodiments, intermediate seal 112 may be substantially parallel to longitudinal axis “LAi” of body 102. In yet other embodiments, intermediate seal 112 maybe inclined obliquely to longitudinal axis “LAi” of body 102. According to the embodiment of FIG. lA, intermediate seal 112 is substantially linear. Further, a width “W2” of intermediate seal 112 is substantially constant along its length. In alternative embodiments, width “W2” of intermediate seal 112 may vary along its length. According to representative embodiments, width “W2” of intermediate seal 112 is from about 2mm to about 8 mm. In some embodiments, width “W2” of intermediate seal 112 is less than width “Wi” of peripheral seal 106.

[052] Intermediate seal 112 may have various alternative configurations. In alternative embodiments, intermediate seal 112 may further include at least one intermediate self-venting region (not shown in FIGS. lA and lB) and at least one intermediate non-venting region. The at least one intermediate self -venting region and the at least one intermediate non-venting region may have different seal shapes or geometries, seal widths and/or sealing conditions (sealing time, temperature, pressure etc.). The at least one intermediate self-venting region may protrude inwardly into one of compartments 114A, 114B relative to the at least one intermediate non-venting region of the intermediate seal. Further, a minimum width of the at least one intermediate self-venting region may be less than a minimum width of the at least one intermediate non-venting region. The at least one intermediate self-venting region may be V-shaped or curved. In cases where intermediate seal 112 intersects gusset fold 108, intermediate seal 112 may further include a main portion (not shown in FIGS. lA and lB) disposed above gusset fold 108, a first branch portion disposed in first folded region 110A, and a second branch portion disposed in second folded region 110B.

[053] Intermediate seal 112 may be formed from heating and compressing overlapping layers of multilayer films of body 102. For example, intermediate seal 112 may be formed from heat sealing overlapping portions of a single multilayer film or separate multilayer films.

[054] Upon heating of the products received within first and second compartments 114A, 114B, intermediate seal 112 ruptures before at least one peripheral self-venting region 106A ruptures. In cases where intermediate seal 112 includes an intermediate self-venting region, the intermediate self-venting region may rupture before the intermediate non-venting region ruptures.

Further, at least one peripheral self-venting region 106A ruptures before at least one peripheral non-venting region 106B. In other words, intermediate seal 112 ruptures before self-venting regions io6A rupture. Self-venting regions io6A rupture before non-venting regions io6B rupture. Preferably, non-venting regions io6B do not rupture due to product heating.

[055] Heating of package loo in a microwave oven may vaporize water or ice in products received within first and second compartments 114A, 114B and/or cause significant expansion of enclosed gases. Pressure within one or both of the first and second compartments H4A, H4B may therefore increase and cause rupture of intermediate seal 112 first. In some embodiments, at least 50% of a length or an area of intermediate seal 112 ruptures upon heating of the products. In some other embodiments, at least 60%, 70%, 80% or 90% of the length or the area of intermediate seal 112 ruptures upon heating of the products. The rupture of intermediate seal 112 to a certain extent (e.g., at least 50%) may enable mixing of products received within first and second compartments 114A, 114B. Peripheral self-venting regions 106A may rupture next and allow venting of pressure within body 102. Further, the mixed products can continue to be heated without significant disruption, splatter, and/or loss. After heating is completed, the peripheral seal 106 at the top edge 104A of body 102 maybe peeled open manually to gain access to the mixed products. Top edge 104A of body 102 may be torn off to gain access to the mixed products.

[056J Package 100 is self-venting, meaning that gases can escape package 100, preferably in a controlled manner, when a threshold pressure (e.g., from about 2 psig to about 5 psig) is reached within package 100. Such a pressure is normally attained upon heating package 100 in a microwave oven to a sufficient temperature to vaporize water or ice in the packaged products and/or cause significant expansion of the enclosed gases. The escape of gases upon heating preferably occurs at self-venting regions 106A having a particular construction (e.g., in terms of seal width) and geometry (e.g., an inward protrusion) that can be varied to adjust the venting characteristics, including the threshold pressure, as well as the direction and even velocity of the escaping vapors.

(057] FIGS. 2A-2D show exemplary use of a packaged product 200 including package 100 of FIGS. lA and lB. Referring to FIGS, 1A-1B and 2A-2D, packaged product 200 includes package 100, a first product 202 received within first compartment 114A, and a second product 204 received within second compartment 114B. First and second products 202, 204 may be food products. As a non-limiting example, first product 202 is a sauce (e.g., red sauce) and second product 204 is pasta. Alternatively, first product 202 may be pasta and second product 204 maybe sauce. Packaged product 200 maybe subject to retort conditions in order to sterilize first and second products 202, 204. First and second products 202, 204 may be shelf-stable due to retorting and not require refrigeration before use. Retorting may occur within an autoclave where packaged product 200 is subjected to temperatures generally exceeding the boiling point of water for an extended period. The autoclave may apply an opposing, external pressure that balances an internal pressure exerted by first and second products 202, 204. Peripheral seal 106 and intermediate seal 112 may therefore remain intact during retort process.

[058] After retorting, packaged product 200 may be placed in a microwave oven. During the microwave heating process, first and second products 202, 204 may be heated and generate steam that causes first and second compartments 114A, 114B to expand as there is no external pressure inside the microwave oven to counteract the internal pressure of the package. Residual gas inside first and second compartments 114A, 114B may also expand and apply pressure. Expansion of first and second compartments 114A, 114B is schematically shown in FIG. 2A. As shown in FIG. 2B, intermediate seal 112 ruptures first, due to the expansion of first and/or second compartments 114A, 114B. A rate of expansion may depend on various factors, for example, amount of first and second products 202, 204, the volumes of first and second compartments 114A, 114B, water contents of first and second products 202, 204 and an amount of residual gas in each of first and second compartments 114A, 114B. The expansion of first and second compartments 114A, 114B may cause intermediate seal 112 to at least partially open. For example, at least 50% of the length or the area of intermediate seal 112 ruptures and first and second products 202, 204 mix together. In other examples, at least 60%, 70%, 80% or 90% of the length or the area of intermediate seal 112 ruptures. Opening of intermediate seal 112 may allow first product 202 (i.e., sauce) to fall on top of second product 204 (i.e., pasta). This may cause first and second products 202, 204 to mix together. In some cases, a weight of first product 202 may fully open intermediate seal 112.

[059] In some cases, second compartment 114B may have a design and/or food content (e.g., high water content) that causes a larger pressure build-up in second compartment 114B than first compartment 114A. This may ensure that intermediate seal 112 ruptures before self-venting regions 106A.

[060] After first and second products 202, 204 are mixed, a resultant mixture 206 may continue to be heated causing package 100 to expand. This may apply pressure on self-venting regions 106A. As shown in FIG. 2C, self-venting regions 106A rupture due to pressure build-up inside package 100. Mixture 206 can cook further for a remainder of the microwave heating process without disintegration of package 100. As shown in FIG. 2D, peripheral seal 106 at top edge 104A of package 100 may be manually peeled after microwave heating to gain access to the cooked mixture 206. Alternatively, the a portion of the package may be removed via tearing, for example at a tear notch, allowing access to the mixture 206.

[061] The mixing of first and second products 202, 204 and venting of package 100, upon exposure to sufficient microwave heating, can therefore be achieved in a controlled and desirable manner, without significant disruption, splatter, and/or loss of the package contents, to the benefit of the end user. Mixing and venting may be based on a more controllable mechanical, rather than thermal, breakage of intermediate seal 112 and peripheral seal 106. Further, as discussed above, intermediate seal 112 and peripheral seal 106 may not include any film layer that melts under temperatures typically encountered in microwave cooking or in retort processing. Intermediate seal 112 may rupture first at a first threshold pressure, while self-venting regions 106A may rupture next at a second threshold pressure greater than the first threshold pressure.

[062] Packaged product 200 including package 100 may also allow first and second products 202, 204 to be sealed from one another before the microwave heating process. This may be desirable in applications where retorting a combination of two products can adversely impact a quality of the final product (i.e., cooked combination). Thus, package 100 may allow two products to be combined during microwave heating while still maintaining desirable properties (e.g., texture, taste etc.) of the final product. Packaged product 200 may also not require refrigeration before use due to retorting. The end user may be only required to put packaged product 200 inside a microwave oven and initiate the microwave heating process.

[063] FIGS. 3A, 3B and 3C illustrate a retortable package 300 (hereinafter referred to as “package 300 ) according to another embodiment of the present application. Package 300 includes a body 302 defining a perimeter 304. Package 300 further includes a peripheral seal 306 formed along perimeter 304 of body 302. Body 302 further includes a top edge 304A, a bottom edge 304B, and a pair of side edges 304C connecting top and bottom edges 304A, 304B. Body 302 further defines a longitudinal axis “LA2” extending between top edge 304A and bottom edge 304B. Each of top edge 304A, bottom edge 304B, and side edges 304C may be linear, curved, or a combination of both. Peripheral seal 306 therefore extends along top edge 304A, bottom edge 304B and side edges 304C. Peripheral seal 306 includes two peripheral self-venting regions 306A and two peripheral non-venting regions 306B.

[064] Body 302 further includes a gusset fold 308 (indicated with a horizontal dashed line in FIG. 3A) at a level near bottom edge 304B of body 302. Gusset fold 308 may extend substantially perpendicular to longitudinal axis “LA2” of body 302. Further, gusset fold 308 may be substantially parallel to bottom edge 304B. As shown in FIG. 3C, gusset fold 308 forms a first folded region 310A and a second folded region 310B. [065] Package ioo further includes an intermediate seal 312 formed within perimeter 304 of body 302 and contiguous with peripheral seal 306. Intermediate seal 312 divides body 302 into two compartments 314A, 314B. Compartments 314A, 314B receive respective products therein. Intermediate seal 312 is parallel to longitudinal axis “IA2” of body 302. Intermediate seal 312 extends from top edge 304A to bottom edge 304B. Each of compartments 314A, 314B is positioned between respective side edge 304C and intermediate seal 312. Each peripheral self-venting region 306A is disposed adjacent to a respective compartment 314A, 314B.

[066] Intermediate seal 312 further includes an intermediate self-venting region 312A and two intermediate non-venting regions 312B separated by intermediate self-venting region 312A. Intermediate self-venting region 312A and each intermediate non-venting region 312B may have different seal shapes or geometries, seal widths and/or sealing conditions (sealing time, temperature, pressure etc.). Intermediate self-venting region 312A protrudes inwardly into compartment 314A relative to intermediate non-venting regions 312B of intermediate seal 312. In some embodiments, a minimum width of intermediate self-venting region 312A may be less than a minimum width of each intermediate non-venting region 312B. As shown in FIG. 3 A, intermediate self venting region 312A is V-shaped. In alternative embodiments, intermediate self venting region 312A may be curved. Further, intermediate self-venting region 312A is an off-center feature and is located proximate top edge 304A. However, a position of intermediate self-venting region 312A may vaiy along a length of intermediate seal 312. In an alternative embodiment, intermediate self-venting region 312A may be centrally located along intermediate seal 312.

]067] Intermediate seal 312 intersects gusset fold 308. Intermediate seal 312 may have to be present on both sides of gusset fold 308 in order to seal compartments 314A, 314B from each other. Referring to FIGS. 3B and 3C, intermediate seal 312 further includes a main portion 315 disposed above gusset fold 308, a first branch portion 316 in first folded region 310A, and a second branch portion 318 disposed in second folded region 310B. Intermediate seal 312 may have a substantially Y-shaped configuration. First and second branch portions 316, 318 seal compartments 314A, 314B from each other in first and second folded region 310A, 310B, respectively. Main portion 315 may be linear or curved. Similarly, each of first and second branch portions 316, 318 may be linear or curved.

[068] Upon heating of the products, intermediate seal 312 ruptures before peripheral self-venting regions 306A rupture. Further, intermediate self-venting region 312A ruptures before intermediate non-venting regions 312B rupture. Rupture of intermediate seal 312 may start at intermediate self-venting region 312A. Subsequently, at least 50% of a length or an area of intermediate seal 312 may open to allowing mixing of the products.

[069] FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate a retortable package 400 (hereinafter referred to as “package 400”) according to another embodiment of the present application. Package 400 includes a body 402 defining a perimeter 404. Package 400 further includes a peripheral seal 406 formed along perimeter 404 of body 402. Body 402 further includes a top edge 404A, a bottom edge 404B, and a pair of side edges 404C connecting top and bottom edges 404A, 404B. Body 402 further defines a longitudinal axis “LA3” extending between top edge 404A and bottom edge 404B. Each of top edge 404A, bottom edge 404B, and side edges 404C may be linear, curved, or a combination of both. Peripheral seal 406 therefore extends along top edge 404A, bottom edge 404B and side edges 404C. Peripheral seal 406 includes a peripheral self-venting region 406A disposed on one side edge 404C and two peripheral non-venting regions 406B separated by peripheral self-venting region 406A.

[070] Body 402 further includes a gusset fold 408 (indicated with a horizontal dashed line in FIG. 4A) at a level near bottom edge 404B of body 402. Gusset fold 408 may extend substantially perpendicular to longitudinal axis “LA3” of body 402. Further, gusset fold 408 may be substantially parallel to bottom edge 404B. As shown in FIG. 4B, gusset fold 408 forms a first folded region 410A and a second folded region 410B. [071] Package 400 further includes an intermediate seal 412 formed within perimeter 404 of body 402 and contiguous with peripheral seal 406. Intermediate seal 412 divides body 402 into two compartments 414A, 414B. Compartments 414A, 414B receive respective products therein. Intermediate seal 412 is inclined obliquely to longitudinal axis “LA3” of body 402. An angle “Ai” between intermediate seal 412 and longitudinal axis “LA3” may be from about 20 degrees to about 70 degrees. Intermediate seal 412 extends between side edges 404C. Peripheral self-venting region 406A is disposed adjacent to compartment 414 A.

[072] Intermediate seal 412 further includes an intermediate self-venting region 412A and two intermediate non-venting regions 412B separated by intermediate self-venting region 412A. Intermediate self-venting region 412A and each intermediate non-venting region 412B may have different seal shapes or geometries, seal widths and/or sealing conditions (sealing time, temperature, pressure etc.). Intermediate self-venting region 412A protrudes inwardly into compartment 414A relative to intermediate non-venting regions 412B of intermediate seal 412. In some embodiments, a minimum width of intermediate self-venting region 412A may be less than a minimum width of each intermediate non-venting region 412B. As shown in FIG. 4A, intermediate self venting region 412A is curved. In alternative embodiments, intermediate self venting region 412A may be V-shaped. Further, intermediate self-venting region 412A may be centrally located along intermediate seal 412.

]073] Upon heating of the products, intermediate seal 412 ruptures before peripheral self-venting regions 406A rupture. Further, intermediate self-venting region 412A ruptures before intermediate non-venting regions 412B rupture. Rupture of intermediate seal 412 may start at intermediate self-venting region 412A. Subsequently, at least 50% of a length or an area of intermediate seal 412 may open to allowing mixing of the products.

]074] FIGS. 5A and 5B illustrate a retortable package 500 (hereinafter referred to as “package 500”) according to another embodiment of the present application. Package 500 includes a body 502 defining a perimeter 504. Package 500 further includes a peripheral seal 506 formed along perimeter 504 of body 502. Body 502 further includes a top edge 504A, a bottom edge 504B, and a pair of side edges 504C connecting top and bottom edges 504A, 504B. Body 502 further defines a longitudinal axis “IA4” extending between top edge 504A and bottom edge 504B. Each of top edge 504A, bottom edge 504B, and side edges 504C may be linear, curved, or a combination of both. Peripheral seal 506 therefore extends along top edge 504A, bottom edge 504B and side edges 504C. Peripheral seal 506 includes a peripheral self-venting region 506A disposed on one side edge 504C and two peripheral non-venting regions 506B separated by peripheral self-venting region 506A.

[075] Body 502 further includes a gusset fold 508 (indicated with a horizontal dashed line in FIG. 5A) at a level near bottom edge 504B of body 502. Gusset fold 508 may extend substantially perpendicular to longitudinal axis “LA4” of body 502. Further, gusset fold 508 may be substantially parallel to bottom edge 504B. As shown in FIG. 5B, gusset fold 508 forms a first folded region 510A and a second folded region 510B.

[076] Package 500 further includes an intermediate seal 512 formed within perimeter 504 of body 502 and contiguous with peripheral seal 506. Intermediate seal 512 divides body 502 into two compartments 514A, 514B. Compartments 514A, 514B receive respective products therein. Intermediate seal 512 is inclined obliquely to longitudinal axis “LA4” of body 502. An angle “A2” between intermediate seal 512 and longitudinal axis “IA4” may be from about 20 degrees to about 70 degrees. Intermediate seal 512 extends from top edge 504A to one side edge 504C. Peripheral self-venting region 506A is disposed adjacent to compartment 514B.

[077] As shown in FIG. 5A, intermediate seal 512 is curved. Due to the position and shape of intermediate seal 512, compartments 514A and 514B have different shapes and volumes. Specifically, the volume of compartment 514A is less than the volume of compartment 514B. Designs of compartments 514A, 514B may be such that there is larger pressure build-up in one of compartments 514A, 514B. This may ensure that intermediate seal 512 ruptures before peripheral self-venting region 506A. Upon heating of the products, intermediate seal 512 ruptures before peripheral self-venting regions 506A rupture. At least 50% of a length or an area of intermediate seal 512 may open to allowing mixing of the products.

[078] FIGS. 6A-6D illustrate various embodiments of self-venting regions. The self- venting regions may be incorporated in an intermediate seal or a peripheral seal of a representative package described above.

[079] FIG. 6A illustrates a self-venting region 602A which is V-shaped. Self venting region 602 A may protrude inwardly into a compartment (not shown in FIG. 6A) relative to a non-venting region 604A.

[080] FIG. 6B illustrates a self-venting region 602B which is curved. Self venting region 602B may be a partial circle (such as a semi-circle), or a partial ellipse (such as a semi-ellipse). Self-venting region 602B may protrude outwardly relative to a non -venting region 604B.

[081 J FIG. 6C illustrates a self-venting region 602C which is curved. Self venting region 602C may be a partial circle (such as a semi-circle), or a partial ellipse (such as a semi-ellipse). Self-venting region 602C may protrude inwardly into a compartment (not shown in FIG. 6C) relative to a non-venting region 604C.

[082] FIG. 6D illustrates a self-venting region 602D. A minimum width “W3” of self-venting region is less than a minimum width “W4” of a non-venting region 604D.

[083] Self-venting regions 602A, 602B, 602C, 602D may rupture before corresponding non-venting regions 604A, 604B, 604C, 604D rupture when the corresponding packages are heated.

[084] Further aspects of the present application relate to multilayer films used in forming one or both sides of the packages described above, and particularly one or both sides of the peripheral seal and the intermediate seal. The ability of such films to withstand retort operations generally requires all film layers to have a sufficiently high melting point. As noted above, preferably such films do not include any film layer having a melting temperature of less than about 90° C. (194 0 F.), less than about ioo° C. (212 0 F.), or even less than about no 0 C. (230° F.)· In the case of film layers including blends of polymers, the individual components of the blends may have melting temperatures that do not meet these requirements, as long as the blend itself has a sufficiently high melting temperature.

[085] In addition, the multilayer films, as well as packages having such films, preferably have seal strength, stability, heat resistance, and oxygen and water vapor transmission properties that allow them to be subjected to retort conditions without loss of desired functional characteristics.

[086] For example, in the case of a representative retortable package including a peripheral seal and an intermediate seal as described above, even after conditions mimicking a retort heat treatment, the package has a seal strength of the peripheral seal and/or the intermediate seal generally from about 1,700 g/in (3.75 lb/in) to about 34,000 g/in (75 lb/in), and typically from about 3,400 g/in (7.5 lb/in) to about 13,600 g/in (30 lb/in), according to ASTM-F88. Advantageously, high seal strength stability of the package is also exhibited, based on a loss in seal strength of generally less than about 35%, typically less than about 20%, and often less than about 10%, upon being subjected to conditions mimicking a retort heat treatment. Representative conditions mimicking a retort heat treatment, corresponding to the above seal strength and seal strength stability properties, include exposure of the package to (1) a temperature of 110 0 C. (230° F.) for 30 minutes, (2) a temperature of no 0 C. (230° F.) for 60 minutes, (3) a temperature of 135 0 C. (275 0 F.) for 30 minutes, or (4) a temperature of 135 0 C. (275 0 F.) for 60 minutes. Furthermore, multilayer films described herein also have acceptable heat resistance, in terms of not undergoing delamination. Preferably, no delamination of the film structure is observed after the film is subjected to ioo° C. (212 0 F.) for 30 minutes, or even for 60 minutes. Further properties of representative films include a barrier- oxygen transmission rate of generally from about 0.16 cc/1112/day (0.01 cc/ 100 in2/day) to about 62 cc/m2/day (4 cc/100 in 2 /day), and typically from about 0.16 cc/m2/day (0.01 cc/100 in2/day) to about 1.6 cc/m2/day (0.1 cc/100 in2/day) at a temperature of 23 0 C. (73 0 F.), and/or a barrier-water vapor transmission rate of generally from about 0.47 g/m2/day (0.03 g/100 in2/day) to about 7.8 g/m2/day (0.5 g/100 in2/day), and typically from about 0.47 g/m2/day (0.03 g/100 in2/day) to about 3.9 cc/m2/day (0.25 g/100 in2/day) at a temperature of ioo° C. (212 0 F.) and 90% relative humidity.

[087] The multilayer film includes a sealing layer that forms a peripheral seal and an intermediate seal of the package, including the self-venting and non venting regions, as described above. In regions where the multilayer film is sealed (e.g., by heat), this sealing layer is bonded to a suitable base material, such as a rigid or flexible package bottom, for example, including polypropylene or polyethylene. The base material may also be another multilayer film of the same type or of a different type. For example, if the multilayer film is folded upon itself and heat sealed at overlapping edges to provide a package volume bounded by non-sealed areas of the film, the multilayer film and base material, as well as the sealing layers being bonded, are necessarily the same. In regions where the multilayer film is not sealed, the sealing layer is the innermost layer, facing the interior of the package and often contacting the package contents, such as food, directly.

[088] A preferred sealing layer contains (1) a polypropylene or (ii) a blend of polypropylene and at least one other polyolefin. Polyolefins include polyolefin plastomers, such as, for example polyethylene that may be blended in the sealing layer. The polyolefin may be high-density polyethylene. The sealing layer may contain (i) a cast retortable grade polypropylene (ii) a coextruded polypropylene polymer or copolymer, or (iii) a blend of a coextruded polypropylene polymer or copolymer and at least one other polyolefin. In one particular embodiment, the sealing layer comprises 100% by weight of cast retortable grade polypropylene.

[089] The thickness of the sealing layer is generally from about 10 pm (0.39 mils) to about 500 pm (20 mils), and typically from about 50 pm (2 mils) to about 200 pm (7.9 mils). In addition to the sealing layer, the multilayer film further includes an outer layer facing the exterior of the package and disposed furthest from the package contents. In the case of 2-layer films, the outer layer and sealing layer are adjacent and bonded directly to one another. In the case of films including further layers (i.e., 3 or more total layers), the outer and sealing layers are not adjacent, but separated by these further layers, being disposed therebetween. A representative outer layer includes, but is not limited to (i) biaxially oriented nylon (ii) biaxially oriented polypropylene or (iii) biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate.

[090] In representative films, an adhesive layer or a primer layer may be disposed between the outer and sealant layers. In the particular case of a 3-layer film, the adhesive or primer may be adjacent both the outer and sealant layers (i.e., sandwiched between these layers). Any adhesive or primer used should be suitable to resist delamination or other failure during the retort process.

[091] Representative films including more than 3 layers may also include, but are not limited to, (i) one or more further biaxially oriented nylon or biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate layers, as described in the outer layer, and/or (ii) one or more further adhesive or primer layers, as described above. Such multilayer films may also comprise functional layers, including functional barrier layers such as ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer or an oxide coating.

(092] The total thickness of a representative, multilayer film used in a selfventing, retortable package, as described herein, is generally from about 51 pm (2 mils) to about 380 pm (15 mils), and typically from about 74 pm (2.9 mils) to about 150 pm (6 mils).

[093] A representative 5-layer film, for example, includes the following layers, in order: an outer layer of biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate, a polyurethane adhesive layer, a biaxially oriented nylon layer, a second polyurethane adhesive layer, and a polypropylene sealant layer. Another representative 5-layer film, for example, includes the following layers, in order: an outer layer of biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate, a polyurethane adhesive layer, an aluminum foil layer, a second polyurethane adhesive layer, and a polypropylene sealant layer.

(094] The following examples are set forth as representative of the present application. These examples are not to be construed as limiting the scope of the application as other equivalent embodiments will be apparent in view of the present disclosure and appended claims.

Comparative Example 1: Package with horizontal intermediate seal forming top and bottom compartments

[095] A self-venting one-compartment pouch made on a production Totani machine was used to create a multi-compartment retortable package. Four ounces of pasta sauce was filled in the bottom compartment. A horizontal intermediate seal was made, connecting the side seals. About 0.55 ounces of pasta was filled above the intermediate seal and a top seal was made. The seal conditions of the horizontal intermediate seal were 385 0 F. (196.1 0 C.) to 390 0 F. (199 0 C.) for 0.5 to 0.6 seconds at 70 pounds per square inch (psi). Both the intermediate seal and the top seal were made without consideration of venting and the seals were as strong as the other perimeter seals. The package was then processed through a retort cycle. After retorting, package was subjected to microwave heating. The packaged failed during microwave heating, tearing through the body of the bottom compartment and causing some of the pasta sauce to spill from the tear. The intermediate seal did not open and the pasta and sauce did not mix.

Example 1: Package with horizontal intermediate seal forming top and bottom compartments, including venting region in intermediate seal

[096] A package was made and filled using the process described in Comparative Example 1 above. However, the intermediate seal was made using a shaped seal bar with a “venting” region that protruded into the bottom compartment of the pouch and also had a narrower width than the remainder of the intermediate seal. The package was then processed through a retort cycle. After retorting, package was subjected to microwave heating. The intermediate seal failed after about 30 seconds of microwave heating, allowing the pasta to fall into the sauce. After the food products mixed, the peripheral self-venting region of the peripheral seal failed. The remainder of the peripheral seal was intact. Comparative Example 2: Package with horizontal intermediate seal forming top and bottom compartments, pouch vented prior to microwave heating

[097] A package was made and filled using the process described in Example 1 above. The package was then processed through a retort cycle. After retorting, a small cut was placed in the top compartment, effectively venting this compartment. The package was subjected to microwave heating. The self-venting region of the intermediate seal opened, but the remainder of the intermediate seal did not open and the pasta and sauce did not completely mix. Because the top compartment had been vented prior to the intermediate seal venting, there was not enough pressure in the top compartment to force a larger opening in the intermediate seal.

Example 2: Package with vertical intermediate seal forming two horizontal compartments

[098] The vertical intermediate seal includes an intermediate self-venting region pointing towards the compartment containing a sauce. The other compartment contained noodles. Seal Conditions of the vertical intermediate seal between compartments were 385 0 F. (196.1 0 C.) to 390 0 F. (199 0 C.) for 1.5 seconds at 70 psi. A vented sealing bar was used to make the vertical intermediate seal. During the microwave process, the two compartments expanded and the vertical intermediate seal opened up along its entire length. The products in the two compartments mixed after the vertical intermediate seal opened.

[099] The description, examples, embodiments, and drawings disclosed are illustrative only and should not be interpreted as limiting. The present invention includes the description, examples, embodiments, and drawings disclosed; but it is not limited to such description, examples, embodiments, or drawings. As briefly described above, the reader should assume that features of one disclosed embodiment can also be applied to all other disclosed embodiments, unless expressly indicated to the contrary. Modifications and other embodiments will be apparent to a person of ordinary skill in the packaging arts, and all such modifications and other embodiments are intended and deemed to be within the scope of the present invention.

EMBODIMENTS

A. A retortable package comprising: a body defining a perimeter; a peripheral seal formed along the perimeter of the body, the peripheral seal comprising at least one peripheral self-venting region and at least one peripheral non-venting region; and an intermediate seal formed within the perimeter of the body and contiguous with the peripheral seal, the intermediate seal dividing the body into two compartments, the compartments receiving respective products therein; wherein, upon heating of the products, the intermediate seal ruptures before the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures, wherein the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures before the at least one peripheral non venting region ruptures.

B. The retortable package of embodiment A, the intermediate seal further comprises at least one intermediate self-venting region and at least one intermediate non- venting region, wherein the at least one intermediate self venting region ruptures before the at least one intermediate non-venting region ruptures.

C. The retortable package of embodiment A or B, wherein the least one intermediate self-venting region protrudes inwardly into one of the compartments relative to the at least one intermediate non-venting region of the intermediate seal.

D. The retortable package of any one of embodiment B or C, wherein a minimum width of the at least one intermediate self-venting region is less than a minimum width of the at least one intermediate non-venting region.

E. The retortable package of any one of embodiments B-D, wherein the at least one intermediate self-venting region is V-shaped or curved. F. The retortable package of any one of embodiments A-E, wherein the body further comprises a top edge, a bottom edge, and a pair of side edges connecting the top and bottom edges, wherein the body further defines a longitudinal axis extending between the top edge and the bottom edge.

G. The retortable package of embodiment F, wherein the intermediate seal is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body.

H. The retortable package of embodiment F, wherein the intermediate seal is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis of the body.

I. The retortable package of embodiment F, wherein the intermediate seal is inclined obliquely to the longitudinal axis of the body.

J. The retortable package of any previous embodiment, wherein the peripheral seal comprises two peripheral self-venting regions disposed adjacent to one of the compartments.

K. The retortable package of any one of embodiments A-I, wherein each of the two compartments is adjacent to a peripheral self-venting region.

L. The retortable package of any previous embodiment, wherein the body further comprises a gusset fold, the gusset fold forming a first folded region and a second folded region.

M. The retortable package of embodiment L, wherein the intermediate seal further comprises a main portion disposed above the gusset fold, a first branch portion disposed in the first folded region, and a second branch portion disposed in the second folded region.

N. The retortable package of any previous embodiment, wherein a width of the intermediate seal is from 2 mm to 8 mm.

O. The retortable package of any previous embodiment, wherein a width of the peripheral seal is greater than 6 mm.

P. The retortable package of any previous embodiment, wherein the peripheral seal has a peel strength of greater than 2500 gram-force/inch.

Q. The retortable package of any previous embodiment, wherein at least 50% of a length of the intermediate seal ruptures upon heating of the products.

R. A packaged product comprising: a retortable package comprising: a body defining a perimeter; a peripheral seal formed along the perimeter of the body, the peripheral seal comprising at least one peripheral self-venting region and at least one peripheral non-venting region; and an intermediate seal formed within the perimeter of the body and contiguous with the peripheral seal, the intermediate seal dividing the body into a first compartment and a second compartment sealed from the first compartment; a first product received within the first compartment; and a second product received within the second compartment; wherein, upon heating of the first and second products, at least 50% of a length of the intermediate seal ruptures and the first and second products mix together, wherein the intermediate seal ruptures before the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures, wherein the at least one peripheral self venting region ruptures before the at least one peripheral non-venting region ruptures.

S. The packaged product of embodiment R, wherein the first product and the second product have different water contents.

T. The packaged product of embodiment R or S, wherein the first compartment and the second compartment have different volumes.

U. A retortable package comprising: a body defining a perimeter, the body comprising a gusset fold forming a first folded region and a second folded region; a peripheral seal formed along the perimeter of the body, the peripheral seal comprising at least one peripheral self-venting region and at least one peripheral non-venting region, wherein the peripheral seal is at least partially peelable; and an intermediate seal formed within the perimeter of the body and contiguous with the peripheral seal, the intermediate seal dividing the body into two compartments, the compartments receiving respective products therein, wherein the intermediate seal further comprises a main portion disposed above the gusset fold, a first branch portion disposed in the first folded region, and a second branch portion disposed in the second folded region; wherein, upon heating of the products, the intermediate seal ruptures before the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures, wherein the at least one peripheral self-venting region ruptures before the at least one peripheral non venting region ruptures.