Food safety is not just a manufacturing concern. At every step of the packaging process, there is an opportunity to support or unwittingly undermine product freshness and safety for consumers. An error or miscalculation can ripple throughout the company and ultimately echo across the industry, putting manufacturers, suppliers, transportation providers, and consumers at risk.
While it is impossible to predict every potential food safety hazard, your diligent efforts can make a difference for everyone in the chain, including the end user. For every packaged food, there is a safe solution with the lowest level of risk. Through close examination of your processes and collaboration with your supply chain partners, you can identify it.
Food Packaging as a Potential Ingredient
Packaging and the food that it contains are not really separate entities. Contact with food makes packaging a potential food additive, which is why the FDA regulates all materials that contact food.
According to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a food additive is “any substance” that may become a component of food or alter the characteristics of food. As it applies to packaging, the scope of the Act includes coatings, plastics, adhesives, colorants, and any other packaging component.
Food ingredients, preparation methods, packing and storage temperatures, and a host of other factors can affect the integrity of food packaging in numerous ways. For example, fatty foods can cause delamination of certain packaging materials, says Food Safety magazine. If compromised packaging then contacts a moldy surface, you could have a new and unpleasant food ingredient.
Flexible Film Packaging Offers Various Options for a Range of Food Products
No single packaging material can be all things to all types of food. Take the oily food example. With the right material to help prevent fat migration, packaging retains its integrity and food keeps a predictable level of freshness.
Foods that require pasteurization need packaging that resists high heat. Acidic foods, dry goods such as grains, and even water introduce risks when the wrong packaging material is selected. With flexible materials, you can customize the package to the food and other factors in the process. Food transportation is another consideration, and so are the conditions where packaged food is stored.
Flexible materials provide a range of choices plus a level of data collection and tracking that is unique in the food packaging industry. Every film, seal, seam, pouch, bag, and liner is testable for regulatory compliance. If a problem emerges, there is a chain of data to track it and identify the source so you can correct it.
Ongoing Testing Helps Control the Risk of Food Safety Hazards
Working collaboratively with a flexible food packaging manufacturer helps you choose the right materials, but that is just the beginning. Strict and continual monitoring help you stay on top of packaging performance because nothing is really static in food manufacturing.
Manufacturing conditions may change. A new food ingredient may be introduced, such as a different oil. A new transportation provider might land your contract. The government could introduce new standards for residential microwave ovens. When any part of the process changes, including at the end-user level, monitoring and testing help you understand the scope of its effect.
Process audits, chemical migration testing, end-user considerations, and letters of compliance are just a few measures that Trace Grains recommends for controlling food safety issues before they emerge. Flexible food packaging enables a high level of data and testing for compliance in an industry that is increasingly complicated.
Every step of the packaging process can affect food safety in a positive or negative way. Although myriad factors can develop along the chain before the product reaches the end user, food manufacturers are ultimately responsible. Fortunately, flexible materials help you work proactively, not reactively, making course corrections in time to prevent a widespread food safety hazard.
If you are searching for a better food packaging solution, we have answers that can help. Contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure today.