by Shonda Talerico Dudlicek
Tamper evidence becomes a new priority for reclosable
isn’t required for food — yet. But with the FDA requiring
over-the-counter drugs to have tamper-evident packaging, could dairy
products be far behind?
A requirement added to the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance
took effect in January, mandating that fluid-milk products utilize closures
that can’t be removed without detection. But nothing official exists
to guide dairy processors and packaging suppliers on the protocol for
packaging. The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) are working together to develop protocols to test
if closures are deemed tamper evident or not.
“There is nothing in the PMO or anticipated
protocol that will outlaw a specific cap,” says Michelle Matto,
regulatory affairs manager for Washington, D.C.-based IDFA. “It will
look at how closures, the neck finish and the bottle itself will perform.
It’s not like one type of cap will be outlawed, which is a rumor
that’s going around the industry.”
However, FDA is already debiting dairy plants during
inspection if a dairy processor’s cap doesn’t have a
tamper-evident seal, Matto says. If a plant loses enough points, a dairy
processor might lose the opportunity to ship Grade A products over state
“We received a request in April from a fluid-milk
processor to convert from a press-on cap to a tamper-evident screw cap
because the dairy had been graded down by a fluid-milk inspector,”
says Dale Berg, general manager of Blackhawk Molding Co. Inc., Addison,
Consumers demand packaging that’s safe and
preserves the integrity of the product. But tamper-evident packaging
aside, can consumers open the package with little effort? And can the
package be reclosed easily for later consumption without leaking or
spilling or spoiling?
“They want a package that will not leak if
tipped over on the way home from the store,” Berg says. “In
addition, they want a package that will not leak if accidentally tipped in
the refrigerator. They want a screw cap. Portability is very
Berg says Blackhawk stuck with the more tamper-evident
closures and developed the Super Quad cap with the tamper ring on the cap
and a well on the bottle that limits tampering. Four threads on the cap and
plug make for a better seal both before and after opening, he says.
Blackhawk also recently developed a Clear Cap that
allows the consumer to see a foil liner under the cap to add another layer
of visual tamper evidence to a capped bottle. “The foil seal may be
printed to convey a tamper-evidence message,” Berg says. “In
addition, we have developed the Fresh Seal System to over-wrap a cap with
film for tamper evidence.
“Dairy processors are after a cap that will
demonstrate if tampering has occurred. This is at the same time as they
would like to promote a resealable package the consumer would like. It must
be engineered to avoid leaking and be cost-effective.”
For dairy processors that don’t already have
screw-capping equipment, Blackhawk developed the Star Capper to apply screw
caps with a less-costly machine. The Star Capper uses the conveyor line to
offer the power to apply the cap.
Alcoa’s new Seal-MAX 38mm plastic dairy closures
come in screw-on or snap-on designs for easy application and removal. The
Indianapolis-based company’s Seal-MAX uses high-quality materials and
innovative sealing designs to virtually eliminate leaking. The in-shell
molded liner eliminates leaking and spilling for on-the-go use. The
tamper-evidence technology features complete band separation from closure
during opening and the separated band stays on the bottle finish. The
consumer then has visual proof of package integrity. Seal-MAX closures are
designed for HDPE and PET containers, from single serves to gallons.
Anticipating school lunch programs converting to
plastic single-serve milks, International Plastics & Equipment Corp.
offers a new 38mm single-use closure as a cost-effective alternative. The
consumer-friendly closure uses a pull-tab for easy opening. The lightweight
closures can be initially applied through a high-speed snap-on application
requiring minimal equipment-related expenditures, according to the New
Castle, Pa.-based company.
Borrowing from the meat industry, where the
proliferation of tub-and-lid technology has grown, dairy packagers are
seeing more interest in such packaging in the cheese markets.
“The latest trends in reclosable and resealable
packaging are familiar and functional products mirroring familiar
home-based reclosable concepts,” says Dennis Burian, marketing
director at Curwood Inc., Oshkosh, Wis.
Tub-and-lid technology uses barrier materials designed
to sustain the product through its life cycle, Burian says. The tub and lid
are heat-sealed together integrating peelable seal technology for easy
opening. The lid can be snapped back onto the tub for refrigeration.
Reclosable technology has improved significantly, and
the need for secondary and tertiary packaging has waned as semi-rigid and
flexible options have been developed to incorporate reclosable technology,
Burian says.Curwood’s proprietary peel/re-seal system combines
barrier technology with added value providing an economical solution,
reducing the amount of packaging sourced to obtain convenience.
Peel/re-seal technology can be incorporated into Curwood’s semi-rigid
or rigid forming material or the lidstock, depending on the application.
Slider zippers have bypassed conventional
press-to-close systems because they’re easy to use and consumers are
willing to pay for it, Burian says. “Consumers want a functional and
easy recloseable solution,” he says.
Zip-Pak has introduced the new Zip-Pak Slider for
overwrap packages, suitable for sliced and block cheese. The new zipper
brings the slider’s easy opening and resealing convenience to
overwrap packages for the first time.
“We are proud to pioneer new packaging formats to
enhance consumer convenience. The new Zip-Pak Slider offers all the
benefits of slider technology to a new package format, allowing brand
owners to differentiate their overwrap packages,” says Robert Hogan,
director of international sales and marketing at Zip-Pak, Manteno, Ill.
Starting with Sargento products 20 years ago, today
virtually all pouched cheeses feature zippers or sliders, creating
reclosable packages that can be conveniently stored without a secondary
container. This is a feature consumers appreciate and also expect, Burian
“We are offering opening features that eliminate
the need for knives or scissors. This feature allows the film to be removed
like a hood to expose the product, while providing the additional security
of tamper evidence,” Burian says of Curwood’s IntegraScore
opening feature, made for shredded and pre-sliced cheese in pouches.
Obviously, packaging that requires opening with sharp
implements is hardly convenient. “It might sound cliché, but
consumers are requiring more from their packaging than ever before,”
“Today’s lifestyles demand it. If we can
help enhance the package experience in a positive manner, there will be a
repeat sale for our customer. When we can eliminate frustration from daily
life, such as looking for a scissors or an additional storage container,
end users remember that and will buy again.”
Shonda Talerico Dudlicek is a freelance journalist and
a former managing editor of Dairy Field.