February 1, 2007
by Shonda Talerico Dudlicek
Demands broaden on the development of packaging for food safety.
(Editor’s Note: This online article offers insights not included in our print edition.)
Food safety is a hot topic, no doubt about it. From allaying consumers’ fears to tamper-evident packaging, caps and seals, to bioterrorism and legislation, there is a lot to talk about. We invited several suppliers of packaging and related components to the dairy industry to weigh in on this broad topic.
Q.: What are the latest technology and trends in packaging for food safety?
Roy Robinson, vice president, strategic marketing, Portola Packaging Inc., Batavia, Ill.: Our latest releases are the DBJ, SCJ and SSJ. Each of these closures features our patented J-band technology, which provides superior protection.
Dale Berg, general manager, Blackhawk Molding Co. Inc., Addison, Ill.: Blackhawk has been a leader in finding solutions to issues of food safety, particularly tampering. Blackhawk is the only cap supplier to the dairy industry that provides solutions to possible tampering from our door to the customer’s plant. Measures include: We seal the boxes we ship caps in with special tape printed with our Blackhawk logo. If a box is opened in route; it should be evident. This is particularly important in less-than-load (LTL) shipments. We are implementing a system of bag sealing that will also show if a bag inside the box is compromised.
After the cap reaches the dairy, our Super Quad cap offers tamper evidence from the dairy to the consumer.
Thus, we supply a sealed box, with a sealed bag, that contains our patented Super Quad cap. Patent claims of the Super Quad cap are directly related to tampering. The interaction of the cap to its bottle makes casual tampering difficult.
Murray Bain, vice president of marketing, Stanpac Inc., Smithville, Ontario, Canada: Stanpac’s latest products the SecurTec series of tamper evident closures for round and non-round paperboard containers do not require any additional equipment and are applied with standard capping equipment.
Jacques Carten, marketing manager, IPL Packaging, Saint-Damien, Quebec, Canada: As a leading industry innovator, IPL Packaging developed a unique tamper-evident food-safety system. Years of research and development have been poured into IPL’s Tamper Evident System and IPL believes it is one of the most reliable systems in North America. Tamper evidency is essential, whether the packaging is equipped with a break tab or a tear strip; for larger containers, the packaging has to put the retailer and the end user in confidence about the safety of the content. IPL’s built-in tamper-evident safety system offers many advantages to both the manufacturers and the consumers. IPL’s safety system is easy to identify, understand and use. It offers visual and physical evidence of any tampering. Secure closing with no additional seal, allowing you to simplify production and reduce operating costs. Even after the safety tab has been removed and the lid opened, resealability will not be compromised. Lids are easy to open and close, use after use. The container skirt provides assurance that the lid will not come off during transportation.
Nadia Vizza, marketing manager, Polypack Inc., Pinellas Park, Fla.: Polypack’s latest technology in packaging is based on its patent pending Clear Dairy Pads for tapered-cup multipacks. Polypack has developed a system that eliminates corrugated. The products are multipacked in different configurations, stacked or not, using clear-plastic molded pads. Polypack’s packaging system keeps products protected during transportation; multipacks stay attractive and in their original condition upon arrival in the stores. Multipacks are more sturdy, thus reliable; they are protected from moisture and tampering.
In addition, Polypack understands that cost is a main concern in reviewing packaging equipment. This is why Polypack develops systems that save money. Packaging savings more than offset equipment costs.
Michelle Schmitt, market analyst, Berry Plastics Corp., Evansville, Ind.: Clean, simplistic packaging that is easy to read, handle and store is in demand.
Q.: What do consumers demand in packaging for food safety?
Berg: Blackhawk has developed our patented Fresh Seal System and Fresh Strip System. We believe these systems will be cutting edge in this industry and will offer superior tamper evidence at the same time they allow significant packaging and environmental cost savings in the industries we serve.
Fresh Seal incorporates a color coded film band around the neck and cap of the bottle. Fresh Strip incorporates a color-coded sealing strip over the top of the bottle.
Chuck Ravetto, director of small character marking, Videojet Technologies Inc., Wood Dale, Ill.: Variable data marking/coding solutions are being expected to facilitate more lines of print at higher production speeds. For example, the Videojet Excel DN is ideal for customers who want to print multi-line variable codes and messages at high speeds, up to 916 feet per minute (279 meters/minute), and print up to a total of eight lines of information. It also easily handles complex codes, such as those that combine text, logos and even bar codes into a single message. Though not directly related to the dairy industry, thermal transfer overprinting has been effectively used for marking bags of spinach to replace hot stamp printing, and provides a variable time stamp and other information.
Bain: The SecurTec series of closures for traditional packages takes care of the tamper evident issue. Some plastic packages adapted from other food products have been adapted to address tamper evidence as well.
Vizza: Consumer demands more environmentally friendly packaging. They want to reduce corrugated (main demand from Wal-Mart) and cut down on packaging costs. More companies request smaller packaging equipment and packaging material that uses less floor space.
Corrugated paper (boxboard) gets damp/moist when exposed to the variations in temperatures associated with chill rooms, freezers, loading docks, refrigerated trucks and display cases. Warped, ineffective corrugate allows product to drop and fall. Pallets and display become unstable and unsafe.
Carten: Although consumers find food safety in regards to packaging important, they have not demanded much. Due to IPL research and development, we do know that consumers look for tamper-evident systems and prefer the package to be clear so they can see the contents. What consumers see on the retail shelves is in response to what the retailers have called for and retailers want to avoid legal action or an outbreak from crisis, at all costs. Manufacturers and retailers ask for food safety regulations, namely to provide a guarantee to their customers that they are meeting all the detailed and necessary requirements to ensure what they invest in, reaches them safely.
In regards to packaging, food safety trends and regulations have not evolved much over the years. For the last three to four years there has not been a dramatic event that has forced the manufacturers to change or modify their current food safety methods, yet IPL Packaging continues to conduct research and development for innovative food safety trends, methods, and systems.
Since 9/11 and other recent events, anthrax and other bioterrorism threats have just consistently increased the retailers, processors, and consumers level of awareness. Food safety may not be on the top of everyone’s list, but it affects all players within the market, from processors to end-users and will continue to be a hot topic with such threats.
Schmitt: Color-changing labels indicating the proper serving temperature or freshness of a product also play a role in food safety. The biggest future purchasing demographic is the baby boomer, 50-plus generation.
Robinson: Consumers expect a package that provides clear and evident tamper protection while still being easy to open by children or the elderly.
Q.: What’s the buzzword in packaging for food safety?
Ravetto: Packaging for food safety can be boiled down to security, which means packaging integrity, brand recognition and freshness.
Carten: Key buzzwords for the packaging industry regarding food safety are tamper evident, shelf life, recyclable and HACCP.
Robinson: Reliable tamper evidence and ESL/aseptic — ultra-sterile beverage packaging.
David Love, general manager of Farmingdale, N.Y.-based Seal-It Inc., a division of Printpack Inc., Atlanta: Tamper evidence and the results you can get from that type of product.
Berg: I would say it would be tamper-evident sealing. Or it might be barrier sealing for ESL applications.
Vizza: A more reliable way to multipack tapered cup products; More affordable, more attractive, cleaner, stronger … and better for the environment.
Bain: Not sure if there is one. Many processors on the ice cream side I have spoken with are watching and listening to consumers to gauge the importance of tamper evidence. It’s coming but no one is sure when. Other corporations are adopting catchy phrases like “we take care” that let their customers know that food safety is important to them.
Giovanna Prestes Lemos, marketing and communications manager, Tetra Pak Inc., Vernon Hills, Ill.: Tetra Pak considers that aseptic carton packages are in very good shape when it comes to food safety. Since their introduction in the late 1960s, Tetra Pak’s aseptic packaging systems have been a success.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that packaging safety today is far more complicated than just protecting the contents and the well-being of the consumer. An emerging concern that must be addressed by packaging suppliers now is the greater ‘social safety’ aspects. Packaging is being closely scrutinized for its environmental impact and the material content of non-renewable resources. This is a hot topic with manufacturers, retailers and consumers. There is a growing sentiment about the precarious position the world is in due to its reliance of non-renewable resources. As a result, awareness is growing of why it is better to minimize the use of scarce resources vs. relying on recycling alone.
Q.: What services does your company offer? What new equipment have you developed?
Schmitt: Manufacturer of injection-molded packaging including thermoformed and tamper resistant packaging. Product lines include containers, drink cups, housewares, aerosol overcaps, closures, bottles, tubes and prescription vials. Markets served: dairy, food and beverage, industrial, chemical, health and beauty and pharmaceutical. Berry is equipped with a technical services group, design center and in-house graphics department. Decorating options include 10-color offset printing, screen printing and in-mold, heat transfer and pressure-sensitive labeling. Berry has 25 plant locations domestically and abroad.
Berg: Blackhawk offers a full range of 38 mm caps that are widely used in the dairy, juice and bottled water industries. We invented and supply the Security Twist System (STS). This is a low maintenance, highly speed, direct drive capping system used in conjunction with our Super Quad cap. We design and manufacture closures, capping equipment and consult with our customers and partners in a wide range of research and development projects.
Carten: IPL Packaging is a leading producer of molded plastic containers for the retail food and industrial sectors in North America. Its full range of products features tamper-evident, space saving and easy-to-use containers and an eye-popping selection of graphics, including in-mold labeling (IML). With more than 60 years of experience, IPL is a leader in engineering innovative design and technologies into successful packaging products. IPL’s four plants operate to the highest quality standards.
Since 1996, IPL has steadily invested in in-mold labeling equipment and has dedicated research and development towards innovating this process throughout North America. Now servicing containers from 8-ounce to 4-gallon pails with IML decoration, IPL Packaging offers the finest in IML in North America. This quality decoration process provides IPL Packaging with trendy, high-tech decoration process over their competitors. Over the last years, IPL has expanded its tamper-evident product line all the way from 8 ounces to 5 gallons, in a variety of shapes such as round, square and rectangular.
Vizza: For more than four decades, Polypack Inc. has become a leader in manufacturing packaging equipment. Polypack’s shrink packaging equipments and tray wrappers are built with the best materials and components available including stainless steel construction to offer a long life span, superior performance, durability and reliability.
Our product line has evolved from a few models of shrink wrappers to a diverse range of packaging equipment. These designs include total closure forming head (horizontal, form, fill and seal) shrink wrappers, high-speed sleeve wrap (bullseye), print registered film wrappers, fully automatic tray loader/formers, label orientation and robotic pick and place equipment such as our patented ROKH system.
All our shrink wrappers and end-of-line packaging equipment are engineered to shrink wrap products of various shapes and sizes, individually or in multipack configurations, unsupported, tray or pad supported. Our latest equipment developed includes: Clear Dairy-Pad multipack, Clear-Print wrappers and Bio-Wrapper series.
Robinson: Portola provides tamper evident closures, HDPE bottles, blow-mold equipment, and technical service for fillers, closures and blow molding. In addition to the latest tamper-evident technology, we offer our customers closure to bottle seal integrity testing. Combined, these competencies provide safety assurances beyond what other closure manufacturers can offer.
Love: We have several different varieties of bands and sleeves for dairy products such as bottles, but it could be for tubs, whipped cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt cups. There are different types of bands that have lots of features. It’s typical for a tamper-evident band to cover the cap or lid so the product can’t be tampered with. One option is the basic clear, or you can print with color, a message like ‘Sealed for your protection.’ Many processors go full sleeves with tamper-evident bands built in. That has lots more brand recognition and is easy to open. Then you’re opening just the band and it leaves the full graphics for brand recognition.
Bain: Stanpac manufactures packaging for the dairy industry with a focus on tamper-evident packaging solutions for ice cream.
Prestes Lemos: Tetra Pak is focused on providing food and beverage manufacturers with customized, comprehensive processing and packaging solutions, including processing and filling equipments, plant automation and a large variety of packaging systems and secondary packaging solutions. This approach allows Tetra Pak to truly be the company that “protects what’s good.”
Tetra Pak offers a wide range of processing and packaging solutions for different types of food to protect the original nutritional value and taste over time. Long-life aseptic processing (ultra heat treatment — UHT) and packaging gives broad access to food. Our packaging material provides an effective barrier against air and light, a particular benefit in countries where refrigerated distribution and storage facilities areas not available. And a great choice for countries such as the U.S., when it comes to saving costs, storage, convenience. The package allows longer periods of storage, suitable for modern lifestyle.
On top of that, the Tetra Pak automation system offers excellent traceability through the production chain from the raw material intake to the packaged product. And our plant production concept focuses on maximizing safe food production.
Ravetto: Videojet Technologies Inc. is a world-leading manufacturer of coding, printing and laser marking products, fluids, and accessories for the product identification industry. As experts in continuous ink jet (CIJ), drop-on-demand (DOD), thermal-transfer overprinting (TTO), array and laser technologies, Videojet has over 275,000 units installed worldwide, and a distribution network that includes over 175 distributors and OEMs, serving 135 countries.
Videojet’s most recent releases cover the full gamut of variable data marking/coding technologies: Continuous ink jet — Last fall, Videojet released the Excel DN small-character continuous ink jet (CIJ) printer, which allows users to reliably print two lines of code at speeds up to 916 feet per minute (279 m/min.) and print up to a total of eight lines of information. The Videojet 1310 small-character CIJ printer is designed to start and stop without the need for cleaning, with an automated backflushing nozzle that minimizes downtime by automatically cleaning itself at start up and shutdown, even after idle periods.
Laser — The Videojet 3120 laser coder features a marking speed of up to 1,200 characters/second and line speeds up to 10 meters per second, making it the fastest laser coder in its class. The Videojet 3320 laser coder is capable of 0-degree (straight-out) or 90-degree laser output; the head can be detached and positioned for even the most intricate marking jobs.
Thermal transfer overprinting — The Videojet DataFlex Plus marks exclusively flexible packaging and features proven, patented direct-drive ribbon technology that contains few wearable parts, which increases reliability and minimizes downtime and costs associated with ribbon breaks. The 1,000-meter ribbon is the longest standard length on the market, so there are less frequent changes and higher production line efficiency.
Large-character ink jet printing — The Videojet 2330/2310 large-character ink jet printers feature a simple user interface and a patented automatic self-cleaning and self-maintenance system that continuously keeps printheads free of dust and debris throughout production, thus eliminating the need for manual cleaning.$OMN_arttitle="Securely Contained";?> $OMN_artauthor="Shonda Talerico Dudlicek";?>