Title:
Reclosable polymeric bags with tamper evident features
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A reclosable polymeric package comprises first and second opposing body panels, a reclosable seal and a one-time breakable element. The reclosable seal includes a first track and a second track that have respective fin portions and reclosable elements. The fin portions each have a first end and a second end being further from the respective reclosable element. The one-time breakable element initially extends from the first fin portion to the second fin portion and is attached between respective first and second ends thereof. The first opposing body panel is adapted to be attached to an interior surface or an exterior surface of the first fin portion and the second opposing body panel is adapted to be attached to an interior surface or an exterior surface of the second fin portion.



Inventors:
Rehwinkel, Gary E. (Fairport, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/102003
Publication Date:
09/25/2003
Filing Date:
03/20/2002
Assignee:
REHWINKEL GARY E.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
383/64, 383/61.2
International Classes:
B65D33/25; (IPC1-7): B65D33/16
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090148078STOWAGE POUCHJune, 2009Skyler
20060280385STADIUM SEAT TRASH BAGDecember, 2006Mcginnis
20100072224Fillable and/or refillable tubeMarch, 2010Ha
20070108240Utilitarian object collapsible on itselfMay, 2007Berger
20050185863Re-sealable plastic bag, to hold or house personal belongings in luggageAugust, 2005Carrillo
20090057172Parallelepipedal Flexible Packaging With Breakable ZoneMarch, 2009Hungler et al.
20070065050Pit stop bagMarch, 2007Mcmillen
20070122067Pouch with widened seal for elongated diagonal cutMay, 2007Redmond
20060062497Flexible pouch with flat seam and method of formingMarch, 2006Murray
20040114835Bag for foodstuff and, in particular, bag for foodstuffs of the granule typeJune, 2004Colas et al.
20070292054Compound thermal keeping bagDecember, 2007Chang



Primary Examiner:
PASCUA, JES F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON PEABODY LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A reclosable polymeric package, comprising: a first opposing body panel; a second opposing body panel joined with the first opposing body panel along three sides to create a receptacle space having a mouth at one end, a reclosable seal extending along the one end and including a first track and a second track, the first track including a first fin portion and a first reclosable element, the second track including a second fin portion and a second reclosable element, the first fin portion extending generally downwardly from the first reclosable element toward the receptacle space, the first fin portion having a first end and a second end being further from the first reclosable element, the second fin portion extending generally downwardly from the second reclosable element toward the receptacle space, the second fin portion having a first end and a second end being further from the second reclosable element, the first reclosable element and the second reclosable element being releasably engageable to each other; a one-time breakable element initially extending from the first fin portion to the second fin portion so as to prevent or inhibit tampering with the package prior to being opened, the one-time breakable element being attached between respective first and second ends of the first and second fin portions; and wherein the first opposing body panel is adapted to be attached to an interior surface or an exterior surface of the first fin portion and the second opposing body panel is adapted to be attached to an interior surface or an exterior surface of the second fin portion.

2. The reclosable package of claim 1, wherein the first and second opposing body panels are attached to respective interior surfaces of the first and second fin portions.

3. The reclosable package of claim 1, wherein the first and second opposing body panels are attached to respective exterior surfaces of the first and second fin portions.

4. The reclosable package of claim 1, wherein the one-time breakable element is a preferential area of weakness.

5. The reclosable package of claim 4, wherein the preferential area of weakness is a score line.

6. The reclosable package of claim 4, wherein the preferential area of weakness is a series of perforations or a highly oriented region.

7. The reclosable package of claim 1, wherein the one-time breakable element is a barrier partition that comprises at least a first layer that is substantially impermeable to at least one of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and/or water vapor.

8. The reclosable package of claim 7, wherein the first layer of the barrier partition comprises ethylene vinyl alcohol, polyvinyl alcohol, nylon, polyester, ethylene vinyl dichloride, liquid crystal polymer, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinylidene chloride, modified polyolefins with barrier properties, polyacrylonitrile, acrylonitriles copolymers, polyacetal, cellophane, cyclic olefin copolymers or combinations thereof.

9. The reclosable package of claim 7, wherein the first layer of the barrier partition comprises ethylene vinyl alcohol, nylon, polyvinylidene chloride or combinations thereof.

10. The reclosable package of claim 7, wherein the barrier partition includes an oxygen scavenger or an oxygen absorber.

11. The reclosable package of claim 1, wherein the one-time breakable element comprises at least five layers, the outer layers being made of at least one polymeric material, an inner layer being made of ethylene vinyl alcohol and the outer layer and the inner layer being attached via adhesive layers.

12. The reclosable package of claim 1, wherein the first reclosable element includes a first locking profile and the second reclosable element includes a second locking profile, and further including a slider mechanism slidably mounted to the first and second locking profiles for movement between a closed position and an open position, the first and second profiles being engaged to each other while the slider mechanism is in the closed position, the first and second profiles being disengaged from each other in response to movement of the slider mechanism to the open position.

13. The reclosable package of claim 1 further including opposing end terminations located near respective ends of the reclosable seal.

14. The reclosable package of claim 1, wherein the reclosable seal is free of pull flanges extending upwardly from the reclosable seal which can be grasped and pulled apart to open the reclosable seal from a sealed form.

15. The reclosable package of claim 1, wherein the one-time breakable element is attached to respective first and second fin portions via elastomeric ribs.

16. The reclosable package of claim 1, wherein the one-time breakable element initially extends from the first fin portion to the second fin portion in a general U-shaped or V-shaped cross-sectional configuration.

17. A fastener adapted to be attached to a first opposing body panel and a second opposing body panel in forming a reclosable polymeric package, comprising: a first track including a first fin portion and a first reclosable element, the first fin portion extending generally downwardly from the first reclosable element and having exterior and interior surfaces, the first fin portion having a first end and a second end being further from the first reclosable element; a second track including a second fin portion and a second reclosable element, the second fin portion extending generally downwardly from the second reclosable element and having exterior and interior surfaces, the second fin portion having a first end and a second end being further from the second reclosable element, the first reclosable element and the second reclosable element being releasably engageable to each other; a one-time breakable element initially extending from the first fin portion to the second fin portion so as to prevent or inhibit tampering with the package prior to being opened, the one-time breakable element being attached between respective first and second ends of the first and second fin portions, and wherein the exterior and interior surfaces of the first fin portion are adapted to be attached to the first opposing body panel and the exterior and interior surfaces of the second fin portion are adapted to be attached to the second opposing body panel.

18. The fastener of claim 17, wherein the one-time breakable element is a preferential area of weakness.

19. The fastener of claim 18, wherein the preferential area of weakness is a score line

20. The fastener of claim 18, wherein the preferential area of weakness is a series of perforations or a highly oriented region.

21. The fastener of claim 17, wherein the one-time breakable element is a barrier partition that comprises at least a first layer that is substantially impermeable to at least one of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and/or water vapor.

22. The fastener of claim 21, wherein the first layer of the barrier partition comprises ethylene vinyl alcohol, polyvinyl alcohol, nylon, polyester, ethylene vinyl dichloride, liquid crystal polymer, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinylidene chloride, modified polyolefins with barrier properties, polyacrylonitrile, acrylonitriles copolymers, polyacetal, cellophane, cyclic olefin copolymers or combinations thereof.

23. The fastener of claim 21, wherein the first layer of the barrier partition comprises ethylene vinyl alcohol, nylon, polyvinylidene chloride or combinations thereof.

24. The fastener of claim 21, wherein the barrier partition includes an oxygen scavenger or an oxygen absorber.

25. The fastener of claim 17, wherein the one-time breakable element comprises at least five layers, the outer layers being made of at least one polymeric material, an inner layer being made of ethylene vinyl alcohol and the outer layer and the inner layer being attached via adhesive layers.

26. The fastener of claim 17, wherein the one-time breakable element is attached to respective first and second fin portions via elastomeric ribs.

27. The fastener of claim 17, wherein the one-time breakable element initially extends from the first fin portion to the second fin portion in a general U-shaped or V-shaped cross-sectional configuration.

28. A reclosable polymeric package, comprising: a first opposing body panel; a second opposing body panel joined with the first opposing body panel along three sides to create a receptacle space having a mouth at one end; a reclosable seal extending along the one end and including a first track and a second track, the first track including a first fin portion and a first reclosable element, the second track including a second fin portion and a second reclosable element, the first fin portion extending generally downwardly from the first reclosable element toward the receptacle space, the first fin portion having a first end and a second end being further from the first reclosable element, the second fin portion extending generally downwardly from the second reclosable element toward the receptacle space, the second fin portion having a first end and a second end being further from the second reclosable element, the first reclosable element and the second reclosable element being releasably engageable to each other; a one-time breakable element initially extending from the first fin portion to the second fin portion so as to prevent or inhibit tampering with the package prior to being opened, the one-time breakable element being attached between respective first and second ends of the first and second fin portions; and wherein at least one of the first opposing body panel and second opposing body panel is attached to the exterior surface of the respective first fin portion and the second fin portion.

29. The reclosable package of claim 28, wherein the first and second opposing body panels are attached to respective exterior surfaces of the first and second fin portions

30. The reclosable package of claim 28, wherein the one-time breakable element is a preferential area of weakness.

31. The reclosable package of claim 30, wherein the preferential area of weakness is a score line.

32. The reclosable package of claim 30, wherein the preferential area of weakness is a series of perforations or a highly oriented region.

33. The reclosable package of claim 28, wherein the one-time breakable element is a barrier partition that comprises at least a first layer that is substantially impermeable to at least one of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and/or water vapor.

34. The reclosable package of claim 33, wherein the first layer of the barrier partition comprises ethylene vinyl alcohol, polyvinyl alcohol, nylon, polyester, ethylene vinyl dichloride, liquid crystal polymer, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinylidene chloride, modified polyolefins with barrier properties, polyacrylonitrile, acrylonitriles copolymers, polyacetal, cellophane, cyclic olefin copolymers or combinations thereof.

35. The reclosable package of claim 33, wherein the first layer of the barrier partition comprises ethylene vinyl alcohol, nylon, polyvinylidene chloride or combinations thereof.

36. The reclosable package of claim 33, wherein the barrier partition includes an oxygen scavenger or an oxygen absorber.

37. The reclosable package of claim 28, wherein the one-time breakable element comprises at least five layers, the outer layers being made of at least one polymeric material, an inner layer being made of ethylene vinyl alcohol and the outer layer and the inner layer being attached via adhesive layers.

38. The reclosable package of claim 28, wherein the first reclosable element includes a first locking profile and the second reclosable element includes a second locking profile, and further including a slider mechanism slidably mounted to the first and second locking profiles for movement between a closed position and an open position, the first and second profiles being engaged to each other while the slider mechanism is in the closed position, the first and second profiles being disengaged from each other in response to movement of the slider mechanism to the open position.

39. The reclosable package of claim 28 further including opposing end terminations located near respective ends of the reclosable seal.

40. The reclosable package of claim 28, wherein the reclosable seal is free of pull flanges extending upwardly from the reclosable seal which can be grasped and pulled apart to open the reclosable seal from a sealed form.

41. The reclosable package of claim 28, wherein the one-time breakable element is attached to respective first and second fin portions via elastomeric ribs.

42. The reclosable package of claim 28, wherein the one-time breakable element initially extends from the first fin portion to the second fin portion in a general U-shaped or V-shaped cross-sectional configuration.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to the packaging industry. More particularly, the present invention relates to reclosable polymeric packages having a tamper evident feature.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Reclosable packages or bags are very common, especially in the food industry. Reclosable packages are typically formed by the use of opposing body panels attached along three sides. Such packages are typically made to be reclosable via the use of a reclosable element or fastener such as a resealable adhesive seal or a reclosable zipper. Such zippers may be opened and closed either by pressure or by the use of an auxiliary slider mechanism.

[0003] Reclosable packages are a great convenience to consumers, especially for products such as luncheon meats and cheeses where, typically, only a portion of the product is used at any given time. A problem with these reclosable packages, however, is that the reclosable features do not provide a desired leak resistance. Thus, the contents of the package can leak out of the package and the external atmosphere can leak into the package, promoting food spoilage. Another problem with reclosable packages is that such packages can be tampered with prior to purchase by the customer.

[0004] A further problem associated with a tamper evident feature is the inability of a food manufacturer to have flexibility in attaching the opposing body panels to the fastener. Specifically, it would be highly desirable to the food manufacturer to be able to attach the opposing body panels to either the interior surface or the exterior surface of the fastener. To increase manufacturing efficiency and/or reduce material usage, it would also be desirable to have some flexibility in locating the opposing body panels to the fastener on the interior or exterior surfaces.

[0005] One attempt to address this problem has involved encapsulating the reclosable feature by extending the wall panels of the package. One disadvantage of this type of package is that the extended wall panels may interfere with the operation of opening and closing the package, resulting in customer dissatisfaction. Another disadvantage includes higher product costs involved with using additional resins for extending the wall panels. This type of package also involves an additional step for the customer of removing a tear strip or manually cutting the wall panels to gain access to the package.

[0006] A need therefore exists for packages having a desired tamper evident seal in addition to having a reclosable feature.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] According to one embodiment of the present invention, a reclosable polymeric package comprises first and second opposing body panels, a reclosable seal and a onetime breakable element. The second opposing body panel is joined with the first opposing body panel along three sides to create a receptacle space having a mouth at one end. The reclosable seal extends along the one end and includes a first track and a second track. The first track includes a first fin portion and a first reclosable element. The second track includes a second fin portion and a second reclosable element. The first fin portion extends generally downwardly from the first reclosable element toward the receptacle space The first fin portion has a first end and a second end being further from the first reclosable element. The second fin portion extends generally downwardly from the second reclosable element toward the receptacle space. The second fin portion has a first end and a second end being further from the second reclosable element. The first reclosable element and the second reclosable element are releasably engageable to each other.

[0008] The one-time breakable element initially extends from the first fin portion to the second fin portion so as to prevent or inhibit tampering with the package prior to being opened. The one-time breakable element is attached between respective first and second ends of the first and second fin portions. The first opposing body panel is adapted to be attached to an interior surface or an exterior surface of the first fin portion and the second opposing body panel is adapted to be attached to an interior surface or an exterior surface of the second fin portion. In other embodiment, at least one of the first and second opposing body panels is attached to the exterior surface of the respective first fin portion and the second fin portion.

[0009] According to another embodiment, a fastener is adapted to be attached to a first opposing body panel and a second opposing body panel in forming a reclosable polymeric package. The fastener comprises first and second tracks, and a one-time breakable element. The first track includes a first fin portion and a first reclosable element. The first fin portion extends generally downwardly from the first reclosable element and has exterior and interior surfaces. The first fin portion has a first end and a second end being further from the first reclosable element. The second track includes a second fin portion and a second reclosable element. The second fin portion extends generally downwardly from the second reclosable element and has exterior and interior surfaces. The second fin portion has a first end and a second end being further from the second reclosable element. The first reclosable element and the second reclosable element are releasably engageable to each other.

[0010] The one-time breakable element initially extends from the first fin portion to the second fin portion so as to prevent or inhibit tampering with the package prior to being opened. The one-time breakable element is attached between respective first and second ends of the first and second fin portions. The exterior and interior surfaces of the first fin portion are adapted to be attached to the first opposing body panel and the exterior and interior surfaces of the second fin portion are adapted to be attached to the second opposing body panel.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011] Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description and upon reference to the drawings.

[0012] FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a mouth portion of a reclosable package or bag with the opposing body panels attached to respective exterior surfaces of the fin portions according to one embodiment of the present invention;

[0013] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the reclosable package incorporating the mouth portion depicted in FIG. 1 in which a reclosable fastener or zipper has a slider mechanism being opened and the one-time breakable element being partially opened;

[0014] FIG. 3 is a sectional view of a mouth portion of a reclosable package or bag with the opposing body panels attached to respective interior surfaces of the fin portions according to another embodiment of the present invention,

[0015] FIG. 4 is a sectional view of a mouth portion of a reclosable package or bag with one of the opposing body panels attached to an interior surface of a first fin portion and the other opposing body panel attached to an exterior surface of a second fin portion according to yet another embodiment of the present invention; and

[0016] FIG. 5 is a sectional view of a mouth portion of a reclosable package or bag with lengthened fin portions in a position during opening by a customer.

[0017] While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments thereof have been shown by way of example in the drawing and will herein be described in detail. It should be understood, however, that it is not intended to limit the invention to the particular forms disclosed but, on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

[0018] Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 depicts a mouth portion of a reclosable package or bag 10 having a one-time breakable element or tamper evident feature 12 located below a reclosable closure arrangement such as fastener or zipper 14. FIG. 2 shows the reclosable package 10 with the mouth portion depicted in FIG. 1 in a partial open position.

[0019] Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the mouth portion of the reclosable package 10 includes a pair of first and second opposing body or wall panels 16, 18 that make up a package body 20 and define a receptacle space 22. Connected to the first body panel 16 is a first track 24 having a first profile 26 and a first fin portion 28 extending generally downward from the first profile 26. Connected to the second body panel 18 is a second track 30 having a second profile 32 and a second fin portion 34 extending generally downward from the second profile 32. The first and second profiles 26, 32 are releasably engageable with each other to provide a reclosable seal to the package 10.

[0020] In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1, a one-time breakable element 12 initially extends from the first fin portion 28 to the second fin portion 34. More specifically, the one-time breakable element 12 is attached between ends 28a, 28b of the first fin portion and ends 34a, 34b of the second fin portion 34. The one-time breakable element 12 of FIG. 1 is depicted with an optional one-time breakable preferential area of weakness or preferential tear area 38 to form a one-time breakable tamper evident feature. It is not necessary that the one-time breakable element 12 has a one-time breakable preferential area of weakness 38. For example, the one-time breakable element 12 may be made in a manner to separate by cutting therethrough. The preferential area of weakness 38 inhibits tampering with the bag 10 prior to being opened. The one-time breakable element 12 has a generally U-shaped (see, e.g. FIG. 3) or V-shaped (see, e.g. FIG. 1) cross-sectional configuration.

[0021] The one-time breakable element 12 may be extruded with the fin portions 28, 34 as a single continuous piece having the preferential area of weakness 38. In one embodiment, the preferential area of weakness 38 takes the form of a score line or a series of perforations (also referred to as a perforated line). A score line may be created by making a uniform crease in the general center of the one-time breakable element 12. Alternatively, a score line may be formed on any portion(s) of the onetime breakable element 12. A score line is created by extruding the one-time breakable element 12 with less polymeric material along a portion thereof. In another embodiment, the preferential area of weakness 38 results from forming the single continuous piece out of a region of highly oriented polymeric material that has a tendency to split along the preferential area of weakness 38.

[0022] Instead of extruding the one-time breakable element 12 with the first and second fin portions 28, 34 as a single continuous piece, the one-time breakable element 12 and the fin portions 28, 34 may be separately extruded and then later weakly attached. For example, the one-time breakable element 12 may be attached at ends 12a, 12b thereof to respective fin portions 28, 34 or some other location by heat sealing or welding. The one-time breakable element 12 may be attached to the respective fin portions 28, 34 by elastomeric ribs. The weak attachment of the onetime breakable element 12 with the first fin portion 28 and/or the second fin portion 34 may create a preferential area of weakness.

[0023] The thicknesses of the one-time breakable element 12 and the first and second fin portions 28, 34 may vary from generally about 2 to about 10 mils. The thicknesses of one-time breakable element 12 and the first and second fin portions 28, 34 are typically from about 6 to about 8 mils. The thickness of the one-time breakable element may be greater if elastomeric ribs are used (e.g., generally from about 12 to about 14 mils).

[0024] The reclosable package 10 may further include an optional auxiliary slider mechanism 36 (FIG. 2) slidably mounted to the fastener 14 for movement between a closed position and an open position. Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, the first and second profiles 26, 32 are engaged to each other while the slider mechanism 36 is in the closed position, and movement of the slider mechanism 36 from the closed position to the open position disengages the profiles 26, 32 from each other.

[0025] The package 10 of FIG. 2 also includes end terminations 37. End terminations may have various purposes such as (a) preventing or inhibiting the slider mechanism 36 from going past the ends of the fastener 14, (b) interacting with the slider 36 to give a tactile indication of being closed, (c) assisting in inhibiting or preventing leakage from the package 10 and (d) holding the first and second profiles 26, 32 together and providing additional strength in resisting stresses applied to the profiles 26, 32 during normal use of the package 10. Further details concerning the construction and operation of the slider mechanism 36 and the end terminations 37 may be obtained from U.S. Pat. No. 5,067,208 to Herrington, Jr. et al., which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

[0026] It is contemplated that other end terminations may be used instead of the above-described end terminations 37. For example, an end weld may be formed by heated bars pressed against the end of the fastener, ultrasonic welding or other ways known in the art.

[0027] As illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, in order to open the reclosable package 10 of the present invention, a consumer grips the slider mechanism 36 and moves it such that the first and second profiles 26, 32 of the respective first and second tracks 24, 30 are detached from each other. Next, the consumer tears open the one-time breakable element 12 along the preferential area of weakness 38. Alternatively, the consumer may open the one-time breakable element 12 by cutting therethrough. The package can be resealed utilizing the fastener 14 and slider mechanism 36. Specifically, the consumer grips the slider mechanism 36 and moves it from the open position to the closed position so as to engage the complementary first and second profiles 26, 32.

[0028] The one-time breakable element 12 not only provides a consumer with the assurance that his or her newly purchased package has never been opened before, but also provides a good initial seal which preserves the freshness of the food contents of the package prior to its initial opening. Since the reclosable closure arrangements of FIGS. 1-5 are located above the one-time breakable element, (i.e., the reclosable closure arrangement is further from the receptacle space), the operation of the reclosable closure arrangement is not hampered by the presence of the one-time breakable element.

[0029] For example, it is not preferred to have pull flanges that extend upwardly from the reclosable closure arrangement that can be grasped and pulled apart to open the reclosable closure arrangement from a sealed form. Such a reclosable package may interfere with the operation of opening and closing the package, resulting in customer dissatisfaction. Additionally, this type of package also includes another step for the customer of removing a tear strip for the customer of removing a tear strip or manually cutting the wall panels to gain access to the package. This type of package also includes higher product costs involved with using additional resins for extending the body panels.

[0030] The tracks, profiles, fin portions and one-time breakable element typically comprise one or more polymeric resins. The tracks, profiles, fin portions and one-time breakable element may be independently comprised of one or more polyolefins including, but not limited to, polyethylenes, polypropylenes or combinations thereof. Some non-limiting types of polyethylenes include low density polyethylenes (LDPE), linear low density polyethylenes (LLDPE), high density polyethylenes (HDPE), medium density polyethylenes (MDPE) and combinations thereof. Other non-limiting examples include plastomers, elastomers, ethylene vinyl acetates (EVA), ethyl methacrylates, polymethylpentene copolymers, polyisobutylenes, polyolefin ionomers, cyclic olefin copolymers (COCs) or combinations thereof, including with polyethylenes and/or polypropylenes.

[0031] One or more of the tracks, profiles, fin portions and/or one-time breakable element may be made from multiple layers. The multiple layers of the tracks, profiles, fin portions and one-time breakable element may be independently formed by coextruding or other processes such as coating or laminating.

[0032] The opposing films forming the opposing body panels 16, 18 of the polymeric package may be made of one or more polymeric resins. The opposing body panels 16, 18 may be comprised of one or more polyolefins including, but not limited to, polyethylenes, polypropylenes or combinations thereof. Some non-limiting types of polyethylenes include low density polyethylenes (LDPE), linear low density polyethylenes (LLDPE), high density polyethylenes (HDPE), medium density polyethylenes (MDPE) and combinations thereof. Other non-limiting examples include plastomers, elastomers, ethylene vinyl acetates (EVA), ethyl methacrylates, polymethylpentene copolymers, polyisobutylenes, polyolefin ionomers, cyclic olefin copolymers (COCs) or combinations thereof, including with polyethylenes and/or polypropylenes.

[0033] Furthermore, the opposing body panels 16, 18 of the present invention may be made of multiple layers including those layers joined by coextrusion or other processes such as coating or laminating. It is further possible to incorporate pigments, metallic components, paper, and/or paper/plastic composites into or on the layer(s) of the polymeric bags of the present invention.

[0034] The optional slider mechanism 36 may be formed from suitable polymeric materials such as, for example, nylon, polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, copolymers of polyethylene and polypropylene, polycarbonates, polyesters, polyacetals, or acrylic-butadiene-styrene copolymers. Especially preferred components for making the slider mechanism 36 are polypropylenes, polycarbonates or polyesters. The slider mechanism 36 may be formed by injection molding.

[0035] As discussed, the one-time breakable element may be formed from one or more layers. According to one embodiment, the one-time breakable element 12 may also be a barrier partition that includes a barrier layer that is substantially impermeable to at least one of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and/or water vapor. The optional preferential area of weakness 38 of the one-time breakable element 12 may also be substantially impermeable to at least one of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and/or water vapor. If substantially impermeable to at least oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and/or water vapor, the one-time breakable element 12 assists in preserving the freshness of the food contents of the package prior to its initial opening. The freshness of the food is preserved by reducing gases from the external atmosphere causing food spoilage.

[0036] The optional barrier layer of the one-time breakable element 12 may comprise ethylene vinyl alcohols (EVOH), polyvinyl alcohols (PVOH), nylons, polyesters, ethylene vinyl dichlorides (EVDC), liquid crystal polymers (LCPs), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), modified polyolefins with barrier properties, polyacrylonitriles, acrylonitrile copolymers, polyacetals, cellophanes, cyclic olefin copolymers (COCs) or combinations thereof. More specifically, the optional barrier layer of the one-time breakable element 12 is made of an EVOH, PVDC, nylon or polyester. Preferred nylons include nylon-6, nylon-66, nylon-MXD6 and amorphous nylons. Preferred polyesters include polyethylene terephthlate (PET) and polybutylene terephthlate (PBT).

[0037] If it is desirable to have an effective water vapor barrier, a cyclic olefin copolymer such as TOPAS® 8007 may be used. TOPAS® 8007 is made by Ticona, a buiness of Calanese A G, in Summit N.J. This cyclic olefin copolymer is believed to be prepared with feedstocks of norbornene and ethylene and the use of a metallocene catalyst. The TOPAS® 8007 has a glass transition temperature, Tg, of about 85° C. with a norbornene level believed to be about 39 mole %.

[0038] There are believed to be at least three other grades of TOPAS® resins available (TOPAS® 6013, TOPAS® 6015 and TOPAS® 6017). Other companies that have cyclic olefin copolymers available include Nippon Zeon (Japan), Mitsui Chemical (Japan) and JSR (Japan), formerly know as Japan Synthetic Rubber. These cyclic olefin copolymers are believed to be prepared with feedstocks of norbornene and ethylene and the use of a metallocene catalyst. The three grades of TOPAS® resins available have glass transition temperatures, Tg, of 140, 160 and 180° C., respectively. The corresponding norbornene levels of the four grades of TOPAS® resins are believed to be about 48, 55 and 59 mole %.

[0039] It is preferred that water soluble materials, such as PVOH, do not comprise the optional barrier layer if the one-time breakable element 12 is made of only the barrier layer because those materials may dissolve in a moisture environment, lose strength and/or barrier characteristics.

[0040] According to one embodiment, a five layer barrier layer is contemplated. The five layer barrier layer has polymeric outer layers such as, for example, high density polyethylene (HDPE), ultra low density polyethylene (ULDPE) and low density polyethylene (LDPE). The interior layer is made of ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH). The EVOH layer is attached to the outer polymeric layers via adhesive layers such as ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA). Another example of an adhesive that may be used in PLEXAR® 165, which is described as an anhydride modified LDPE, ans has a melt index (MI) of 1.8 g/10 min. and a density of about 0.92 g/cm3.

[0041] The optional barrier layer generally has an oxygen transmission rate (OTR) less than 10 cm3 (mil)/100 in2-day at 23° C. as measured by ASTM D3985-81. The barrier layer preferably has an oxygen transmission rate less than 2 cm3 (mil)/100 in2-day at 23° C. and, more preferably, less than 0.5 cm3 (mil)/100 in2-day at 23° C. as measured by ASTM D3985-81.

[0042] The optional barrier layer may also be substantially impermeable to water vapor and other gases causing dehydration, increased humidification and/or oxidation. The optional barrier layer generally has an water vapor transmission rate (OTR) less than 20 g/100 in2-day at 23° C. as measured by ASTM F1249-90. The ASTM F1249-50 has been slightly modified in Section 11.2 to normalize and account for the small width of the track. The barrier layer preferably has an oxygen transmission rate less than 5 g/100 in2-day at 23° C. and, more preferably, less than 1 g/100 in2-day at 23° C. as measured by ASTM F1249-90.

[0043] The optional barrier layer may assist in inhibiting loss of flavor, absorption of external odors and development of microflora (bacteria) in the food products of the package 10.

[0044] It is contemplated that oxygen absorbers/scavengers may be included in forming the optional barrier layer. Oxygen absorbers or scavengers are generally chemical or enzyme based. Chemical oxygen scavengers contemplated in the present invention include metallic reducing agents such as various ferrous compounds, powdered iron oxide and metallic platinum. Other chemical oxygen scavengers include non-metallic formulations such as those employing ascorbic acids (Vitamin C) and their associated salts and organo-metallic molecules that have a natural affinity for oxygen.

[0045] It is contemplated that additional materials may be added in forming the optional barrier layer. These materials include various fillers, such as clay, talc, mica and nanocomposites that may be more cost effective. These fillers may provide a tortuous path for oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and/or water vapor.

[0046] Similarly, the opposing body panels 16, 18 (such as depicted in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4) may also be made of at least one barrier layer that is substantially impermeable to at least one of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and/or water vapor. The optional barrier layer of the opposing body panels 16, 18 may be made of similar material as described above in forming the optional barrier layer of the one-time breakable element 12. The optional barrier layer of the opposing body panels 16, 18 may be located as an inside layer or as an interior layer of the package 10.

[0047] The opposing body panels 16, 18 may be made from multiple layers. For example, the opposing body panels 16, 18 may include a tie layer that attaches to the fin portions 28, 34. The tie layer may be made from various materials such as ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), anhydride modified polyolefins, anhydride modified ethyleneacrylates, anhydride modified EVAs, acid modified EVAs, acid modified ethyleneacrylates, amorphous polyolefin-modified EVA polymers or combinations thereof. Some examples of anhydride modified polyolefins include anhydride modified high density polyethylene (HDPE), anhydride modified low density polyethylene (LDPE) and anhydride linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE).

[0048] An example of a three layer body panel (not shown) includes a first layer having the same materials as described above in making the optional barrier layer of the one-time breakable element 12, a tie layer and a third layer made of polyolefin(s), such as an LDPE, an HDPE, an LLDPE or combinations thereof. In this embodiment, the first layer would be preferably located on the interior of the body panel with the tie layer being located between the first and third layers.

[0049] The components of the reclosable closure arrangement (such as the tracks having integrally formed interlocking profiles and fin portions) may be attached to the body panels of the package by processes such as heat sealing, welding or blocking. The process utilized depends upon the materials from which the bag and the reclosable closure arrangement are made. Specifically, heat sealing is a process whereby materials are fused or melted together. Welding is a process where an intermediate third material is utilized to “glue” similar materials to each other. Blocking is a process where at least sufficient pressure and optional temperature increases result in intimate surface contact adhesion of layers without sealing.

[0050] Examples of the body panels being attached to the fin portions are depicted in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4. Referring back to FIG. 1, the body panels 16, 18 are attached to respective exterior surfaces of the fin portions 28, 34. Referring to FIG. 3, a reclosable package 110 is shown that includes a fastener 14 with a one time-breakable element 112 that is generally U-shaped. The opposing body panels 16, 18 of FIG. 3 are attached to respective interior surfaces of the fin portions 28, 34 and define a receptacle space 122. The ability to attach to either the exterior surface or in the interior surface of the fin portions gives much greater process latitude during the filling of the bag.

[0051] Referring to FIG. 4, a reclosable package 210 is depicted that includes a fastener 14 with a one time-breakable element 12 that is generally V-shaped. The first body panel 16 of FIG. 4 is attached to an exterior surface of the fin portion 28, while the second body panel is attached to an interior surface of the fin portion 34 and the body panels 16, 18 define a receptacle space 222. It is contemplated that the one-time breakable element may take other shapes such as the reverse orientations of the general U-shaped (FIG. 1), or general V-shaped (FIG. 4) one-time breakable element. Other contemplated shapes include a general W-shaped one-time breakable element and the reverse orientation thereof.

[0052] The location of the attachment of the body panels 16, 18 to the fastener 14 may assist in increasing the volume or interior space of the bag with a similar amount of polymeric film. For example, if the attachment of the body panels 16, 18 to the fastener is further down the fin portions 28, 34 (i.e., located further away from the profiles), then the volume or interior space of the bag is increased with a similar amount of polymeric film.

[0053] Additionally, the fin portions 28, 34 may be lengthened from that depicted in FIGS. 1, 3 and 4. An example of a mouth portion of a bag 310 with lengthened or extended fin portions 328, 334 is depicted in FIG. 5. The fin portion 328 extends from a first end 328a to a second end 328b thereof, while the fin portion 334 extends from a first end 334a to a second end 334b thereof. The bag 310 of FIG. 5 is shown in an position where the profiles 26 and 32 are not being engaged and the one-time breakable element 12 remains intact. The bag 310 has an increased interior space 322 with the body panels 16, 18 being attached further down the fin portions 328, 334. It is contemplated that the body panels 16, 18 may be attached on respective interior surfaces of the fin portions 328, 334 rather than the outer surfaces depicted in FIG. 5. The extended fin portion (e.g., the section of the fin portion from the one-time breakable element 12 until the respective first ends 328b, 334b shown in FIG. 5) may also be used for graphic printing thereon. The extended fin portion also allows for an extended sealing area between the body panels and the respective fin portions.

[0054] Alternatively, an adhesive seal may be utilized as a fastener or reclosable element of the present invention. Such seals employ a resealable adhesive-type substance that is applied to either one or both of the films forming the package. The adhesive may alternatively be applied to an intermediary base strip. It is contemplated that other closure arrangements, besides adhesive seals and zippers, may be used in the present invention.

[0055] While the present invention has been described with reference to one or more particular embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that many changes may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Each of these embodiments and obvious variations thereof is contemplated as falling within the spirit and scope of the claimed invention, which is set forth in the following claims.