In the case of food packaging, it’s not just the inside that counts: food packaging plays a big role in the quality of the product. It can make or break your food safety measures. Protecting the product inside starts by determining and eliminating the threats on the outside. In this blog we shine a light on three common contamination risks in food packaging. These threats exist in each step of the food chain, from production to processing, packaging and transportation.
1: Physical contamination
Each year, millions of food products are recalled due to foreign contaminants discovered by consumers. Physical contamination occurs when actual objects contaminate the food. The most common physical contaminants, the so-called Dirty Dozen, are glass, wood, stones, metal, jewelry, filth, insulation, bone, plastic, personal effects, bullets, and needles. Weird and uncommon objects in food products often make it to the headlines of news channels. The food industry takes many precautions to ensure that any end-product that reaches consumers is free of physical contaminants. Techniques to prevent and identify these foreign objects in food packaging are improving rapidly, significantly reducing the number of physical contaminants in food packaging.
2: Chemical contamination
The presence of chemicals where they should not be, or the presence of an amount that is higher than is attributed as safe, are two forms of chemical contamination. This form of contamination in packaging is highly dangerous, given the fact that a high concentration of chemicals present in edible products can possess serious health risks.
Food production, packaging and preparation is a long road, in which each stage has a potential source of chemical contaminants invasion of the food. Therefore, there are many potential risks of chemical contamination. A common one is due to the direct food contact with packaging materials, which can lead to chemical contamination by the migration of some harmful substances into foods. Also the use of unapproved or erroneous additives may result in food contamination. Other common forms of chemical contamination are:
- Contamination by pest control products
- Contamination by chemicals used in equipment maintenance
- Contaminants from secondary packaging, warehousing and transportation
- Uncontrolled or food-unsuitable chemical substances intended to support the manufacturing process
3: Microbiological contamination
Lastly, microbiological contamination also forms a big risk in food packaging. Microbiological contamination refers to the non-intended introduction of microbes such as bacteria, yeast, mould, fungi and virus. Without proper precautions, this form of contamination can occur in any stage of the production process. Pests can have a disastrous effect on your product and business, and the right measures should be taken at all times. Examples of microbiological contamination include pests by stored product insects (SPIs), weeds and plant diseases using other organisms of fungus growth.
Consequences of contamination
Recalls of products can not only cause financial losses, but also seriously damage the reputation of many producers and sellers. Earlier this year, a producer of powdered baby milk had to recall over 12 million of its products due to a salmonella outbreak. The contamination infected at least 35 babies. The financial damage for the company is estimated on hundreds of millions by the CEO of the company: not only in costs of the recall and repairing production facilities, but also in financial compensation for the affected families.
Do you want to know more about protecting your products - and ultimately the consumers - to the risks of contamination in food packaging? Let us help you! At Masterpack, protecting your product is our specialty. Get in touch to learn more about our tailor-made packaging solutions.