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Food in Brief #6 – Microbial and packaging control are equally important

Kevin Stretton - Monday, August 10, 2015

 

In a previous article we discussed the differences between legislated food safety responsibilities and independently audited food safety certification.

In this article we take a brief look at what those legislated food safety responsibilities are and the significance of packaging.

 

Food safety legislation is typically concerned with controlling three (3) food hazard categories: -

1.       Chemical.

2.       Microbiological.

3.       Physical.

 

Quite correctly we place a lot of emphasis on the control of microbiological hazards as a way of preventing or minimising the likelihood of food poisoning.

 

How often do we give similar importance to the safety of packaging used for food?

 

Dependent on the circumstances and if uncontrolled, packaging can be a source of one, two or all three food hazard categories.

 

1.      Chemical – what is the packaging made from and can components migrate from the packaging into  the food?

2.      Microbiological – what levels of hygiene are in place at the packaging manufacturer, supplier, transport and in-transit storage systems?

3.      Physical – can pieces or segments of the packaging dislodge or fracture, enter the food and become a hazard for consumers?

 

In recent examples we noticed several clients who had inconsistencies in their food safety plans: -  

•     Cordial bottling in glass containers where the glass had not been identified as a physical hazard and there were no controls in place if an incident involving broken glass were to be reported by employees.  

•     Packaging materials being purchased and imported from an interstate supplier with no monitoring of the chemistry & quality of packaging or the source of materials being used in the packaging.

 

Summary

»     No matter how large or small your production system may be always check your process to ensure you have captured information in hazard categories relevant to your food or beverage product.

»     Remember that while your packaging is designed to be aesthetically appealing to the customer / consumer always check that it is compatible with the food or beverage product and won’t create additional hazards.

»     Your packaging carries your organisation’s brand image and as a marketing ‘tool’ develops the consumer’s trust.

»     Make sure your packaging enhances the consumer’s experience and leaves a lasting, positive impression of the product’s quality and safety.

 

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