The topic of food safety drew a strong spotlight at the Food Packaging Technologies Summit held  April 5-7 in St. Louis.

The topic of food safety drew a strong spotlight at thePackaging StrategiesFood Packaging Technologies Summit held April 5-7 in St. Louis.

Taking a global look at best packaging practices in food safety is a major initiative among brand owners and retailers, stated Vernita Lockhart, director of strategic initiatives at theCoca-Cola Co.The company is among a group of leading end users and retailers involved in the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), launched in 2000 as a means to make the food supply chain safer.

“Food safety was then, and is now, top of mind with consumers,” she emphasized. “Consumer trust needs to be strengthened and maintained.” The group has established a packaging working group to review best practices and define the key elements that must be in place, tying food safety to packaging. A main area of focus is continuous improvement to help avert food-safety crises and frequent audits, she added.

The Packaging Association(formerly the Packaging Association of Canada) discussed its influential food safety program, PACSecure, and its project vision. Larry Dworkin, director of government relations, said packaging materials must address biological, chemical and physical hazards and offers better safety controls.

One common standard, commonly known as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), is customer-driven and includes the increasing participation of many brand owners.

“Having a food grade material is not good enough,” Dworkin said.

Another hazard is that from the use of inks and coatings on food packaging, said Michael Impastato, vp of strategic marketing for  Flint Group - Global Packaging and Narrow Web Inks. The use of inks is not as well-defined within packaging regulations as the use of materials, he said. But the migration risk can be great, especially when additives are used.

Frequently legislation is addressing the issue, as are internal requirements from brand owners. Impastato stated that Nestle, for instance, identifies four classes of inks and sets limits on use, while other food companies ask for disclosure of all metals, monomers and solvents.

This article appeared in the April 29 issue of the Packaging Strategies newsletter; for more information, visit