'Openability' of food and beverage packaging has been shown to be problematic for older consumers. Pressure on resources has seen the use of packaged food and beverages increase in hospitals within the New South Wales region of Australia. Studies at the University of Wollongong have explored the interaction between older people and the types of packages regularly encountered in the delivery of hospital food and nutrition. As these types of packs are commonly found in UK hospitals as well, a series of studies have been undertaken by the University of Wollongong, Australia, and Sheffield Hallam University, UK, to further evaluate the issues surrounding the 'openability' of hospital food and beverage packaging in an attempt to understand in detail the issues leading to difficulty in use.
Current methods of pack 'ease of opening' evaluation rely on hand strength as the core parameter. Our studies examine the role of dexterity in addition to hand strength in pack opening. Water bottles, single portion drink cartons and cheese portions were among the poorest performing packs. Dexterity, rather than strength is found to be a sensitive and reliable method to understand the issues surrounding the poor pack performance, and a repeatable way of comparing different pack formats is presented.