Pack it up

In light of the FDA’s CGMP legislation and improved HACCP practices, the demand for the highest quality packaging, machinery and materials has never been higher. NGF speaks with Keith Pearson for the low down.

The FDA’s CGMP legislation and HACCP practices are just two examples of increased regulations the food industry has seen recently. There are two main drivers that have led to this increased regulatory environment, which both revolve around consumer safety: “First terrorism, and second security related to counterfeit.

But there are costs associated with implementing these security measures; new technology has been developed to ensure consumer safety and ensure that each article is capable of being accurately and speedily identified and traced.” But how is the industry coping with these increased regulations? According to Pearson, staff training and education is a critical area: knowing the regulations and understanding the available technical possibilities of meeting the requirements is key to being successful.

When speaking about maximizing packaging and process efficiency while adhering to cost restraints, Pearson admits that some global retailing trends do make it more difficult to maximize process/manufacturing efficiency. “Trends such as smaller pack sizes and shorter runs together with new sometimes more complicated processes do make it more difficult to reduce costs. Raw material costs by far form the largest part of the cost structure, most packaging industries have made major strides in reducing raw material costs mainly through manufacturing……

Beating the fraudsters

In the fight against food fraud, greater intelligence sharing amongst food agencies will be key to ensuring standards are met and rule-breakers brought to justice.

Picture the scene. It is London in 1820. Bakers are mixing dough with chalk and plaster to make loaves whiter and heavier. Brewers are using strychnine to make beer taste bitter. Confectioners are using poisonous lead and mercury salts to make sweets brightly coloured and more attractive to children. It’s a great time to be an enterprising food producer with questionable scruples, but probably not such a pleasurable period for the poor consumers subjected to hazardous substances on a daily basis.

Fast-forward two centuries and things have, thankfully, changed for the better. Standards have done much to improve the quality of the food we eat, ensuring there are no nasty surprises hidden away in the ingredients cupboard; and swift prosecution of transgressions has led to increased confidence in the safety (and legitimacy) of the food chain. Organisations such as the Food Standards Agency in the UK and the European Food Safety Authority have worked tirelessly in this regard.

Nevertheless, food fraud does still exist – recent high-profile cases include vodka being diluted with industrial methylated spirits and problems with the supply of rotten poultry to certain supermarkets – and stopping such illegal practices is critical to minimising public health risks……