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Packaging Part 2

Kevin Stretton - Sunday, March 01, 2015
Where is the boundary between food protection and packaging waste?

In the first article we looked briefly at two main themes, consumer acceptance of food packaging and environmental responsibility of food manufacturers.

With Australian packaging consumption predicted to increase from 4.4 million tonnes (2010) to 5.2 million tonnes (2035) the need for bio-compostable, bio-degradable, lighter, safer & stronger packaging may provide a competitive edge for innovative organisations.

In this article we look at how the food industry has decided to respond.

In a strategic approach the Australian Food & Grocery Council (AFGC) and its members aim to:
1. Design and use packaging so resource inputs & waste outputs are minimised.
2. Optimise packaging to protect food throughout the supply chain.
3. Collaborate and consult with academia, consumers, the community, manufacturers, packaging suppliers, regulatory authorities and researchers.

Previously released public documents from the industry and its representatives have been comprehensively structured with statistics, objectives, responsibilities, descriptive strategy and timelines. However, a considerable absence of quantified targets remains within most strategies.

This might suggest there is still a considerable way to go before agreement is reached across the whole industry on how the targets will be aligned with timelines.

• Refer to the links below

Packaging Part 1

Kevin Stretton - Sunday, March 01, 2015
Where is the boundary between food protection and packaging waste?

We all have vivid memories of the times when we tried to open containers or packets of food frustratingly wrapped in excessive, hard to remove packaging.

How much of the packaging protects the food and how much is just waste?

Well some consumers have started to demonstrate their purchasing power and in other cases consumer and medical groups have formed alliances to actively work with manufacturers to label ‘environmental & packaging-friendly’ products.

As a greater percentage of the Australian population matures the focus on ease of opening and use will increase.

In New Zealand a consumer consortium named ‘Unpack-it’ have, over several years, developed a competition to identify the best and worst performing organisations. These organisations were then given public awards.

Are you listening to your consumers, researching innovative technologies and acting on the consumer’s wishes for?
 » Ease of use and opening.
 » Environmentally sound packaging.

We’ve included some website links for your interest.

Arthritis Foundation

‘Unpack-it’, New Zealand

Food in Brief #1 - Food & Beverage

Kevin Stretton - Sunday, March 01, 2015

It has been known for a long time that cranberries have multiple health benefits and the North American Indians used the fruit and plant for a wide range of food and medicinal purposes.

Recent research at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA, has focused on isolating, extracting and concentrating the components of the berry. The objective was to determine if the extract could be used as effectively as the original juice.

Although all of the results are not entirely understood, indications are that virulent E.coli can be controlled by inhibiting their ability to develop biofilms.

For beverage manufacturers this may offer a new opportunity in the health segment of the beverage market.

Sugar & Cane Juice


Since 2005 Resis Australia has been developing and improving the processing of sugar cane juice.

Their objectives have been:-
1. Add value to the waste streams produced by sugar mills.
2. Retain the natural components of the sugar cane & juice.
3. Satisfy a market demand for healthy and unrefined foods.

Consequently the juice acts as a sweetener with the nutritional benefits of other fruits.

Other benefits are:
• Consumer perceptions
• Well suited to beverage formulations
• Does not impair colour, higher flavor profiles & sensory perceptions

Investment in research has paid dividends for this Australian company and is a practical demonstration of the innovation needed to keep the Australian food sector internationally competitive.

Calibration Methods and Competencies

Kevin Stretton - Sunday, March 01, 2015

The control and management of measuring and monitoring equipment is an important and serious aspect of food & beverage manufacturing with potential impact on the environment, food safety & quality.
So before delegating calibration authority to an employee how do you check they have the correct competencies for the job?
To ensure consistency among employees being trained in the same procedures, the use of defined competencies becomes a necessity.
Common to all of the national training packages there are two (2) major sections within the performance criteria:
     1. Broad task elements.
     2. Specific competencies.
The following summary outlines the elements & competencies found in the National Training Service (Industry Skills Council) ( for the unit called, ‘Create or modify calibration procedures’ – MSL905002A (
Scroll down to the base of the webpage where you’ll find a download link.
There are 4 other units that deal with calibration equipment.
In the next article we’ll provide a summary of the key points.

Workers' Rehabilitation & Compensation

Kevin Stretton - Sunday, March 01, 2015

The crucial role of the Supervisor or Team Leader in the return to work (RTW) process

Injury and return to work management is a coordinated and managed process intended to facilitate recovery and restore an injured worker to their pre-injury work capacity.

This process requires the close working of a number of parties to assist in maximising a recovery and return to work outcome for the injured worker.

While the role of the RTW Coordinator is critical, the role of the Supervisor or Team Leader is equally important in ensuring the successful return of the injured worker to the workplace.


Supervisors have an intimate knowledge of the range of jobs available at the workplace as they can provide modified work, interpret corporate policies and facilitate access to corporate medical resources.

By having a close relationship with the worker supervisors can easily monitor the worker’s health and capabilities on a daily basis while communicating a positive message of concern and support.

Communication is the key – if there is no communication the worker can feel isolated or feel they are a burden on the workplace. Communication helps let the worker know they are valued, creates a strong workplace culture and improves morale. However, communication is only one part of the pivotal role of facilitating the return to work process. 

Supervisors / Team Leaders can facilitate the return to work process by;

      •   Communicating openly

      •   Being proactive

      •   Listening to a worker’s concerns

      •   Having an open door policy

      •   Responding to their concerns as soon as possible

      •   Acknowledging the impact of the worker’s injury

      •   Remaining positive

      •   Taking responsibility for the worker’s rehabilitation

It is important the Supervisor or Team Leader does not;


      •   Lose patience with the worker       •   Display aggressive behaviours

      •   Make the worker feel like a nuisance
      •   Question the worker's every action
      •   Go against the worker's request for work adjustments

Calibration Methods & Competencies

Kevin Stretton - Sunday, March 01, 2015

A Summary of Calibration Methods & Competencies


In our last article we introduced readers to the importance of correctly identified calibration competencies for your employees.


In this article we supply a summary of the main performance criteria.



The unit explains:-

  1.      1. The ability to create or modify calibration procedures in response to the introduction of alternative or new equipment, changing test conditions or to comply with client specifications.
  2.      2. Research of existing procedures & technology.
  3.      3. Development &/or modification of a procedure.
  4.      4. Trialing & validation that a procedure is fit for purpose.


The unit does not provide guidance on competencies needed for calibration software development or editing.


Performance Criteria: Broad Task Elements -

  1.      1. Assess the suitability of available calibration procedures.
  2.      2. Develop a procedure.
  3.      3. Prepare equipment for testing.
  4.      4. Trial modified or new calibration procedure.
  5.      5. Confirm the modification or new procedure is fit for purpose.
  6.      6. Document & review the modified or new calibration procedure.


Performance Criteria: Specific competencies -


Element 1 competencies:

  •      • Confirm that the authorised calibration procedure is inappropriate for use or needs modification.
  •      • Research suitable established alternative procedures.
  •      • Establish whether an existing procedure can be customised or if a new procedure is needed.
  •      • Obtain internal approval to develop or modify a calibration procedure.
  •      • Confirm that available resources meet all requirements of the alternate or new procedure.
  •      • Obtain authorisation for any deviations from client specifications. 


Element 2 competencies:

  •      • Identify & document all relevant calibration data, parameters & ranges to be collected and tested.
  •      • Describe all new instructions or modifications to ensure repeatability of tests.
  •      • Document all EHS hazards & controls for compliance.
  •      • Specify data to be recorded and develop a results template.
  •      • List the specifications for calibration approval & rejection.
  •      • Confirm that all calibration specifications can be fulfilled.


Element 3 competencies:

  •      • Select, use & care for the correct PPE.
  •      • Assemble and set reference standards or equipment prior to testing.
  •      • Verify performance of the reference standards & measuring equipment prior to use and adjust or calibrate.
  •      • Identify and minimise potential sources of measurement error.


Element 4 competencies:

  •      • Perform individual steps and confirm they are accurately & succinctly documented for repeatability.
  •      • Critically analyse readings, confirm they are valid measurements & recording this data.
  •      • Adjust the measuring device during tests to bring readings within tolerance.
  •      • Analyse test data to detect patterns or trends that may affect accuracy and validity.


Element 5 competencies:  

  •      • Compare the results with those achieved from other calibrations.
  •      • Systematically analyse all factors that may influence results and implement corrective action.
  •      • Organise internal peer checks of procedures, data and results and include feedback.
  •      • Analyse equipment specifications & test methods to quantify the uncertainties in results.
  •      • Compare results obtained via proficiency testing with other laboratories.
  •      • Confirm the modified or new procedure is fit for purpose & meets specifications.


Element 6 competencies:

  •      • Ensure that the procedure:-
    •           • Is written to comply with the company’s document management & regulatory specifications;
    •           • Has been reviewed to comply with the company’s document management specifications.
  •      • Report and present the procedure to senior management for approval before use.