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Is our packaging up to standard?

"Is our packaging up to standard?" is the question many food companies are now asking themselves.

Does this question relate to quality Of Product? No.

Design? Most definitely not.

Then what?

The question relates to the hygienic standards under which food packaging is manufactured and supplied. With the advent of source reduction in packaging over the last few years, due to environmental pressure, packaging has never before been as important in its role of product protector. Direct contact with food means that the packaging should be manufactured under the same strict hygienic standards as the food itself If the packaging is not manufactured under similar controls as the food it protects, it ridicules the effort taken by the food manufacturer/processor.

ADAS, a commercial agency of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), is recognised as a leading UK authority for the auditing and implementation of hygiene standards in food manufacturing companies. Having investigated the important role packaging plays in the food chain, ADAS, launched its Hygiene Accreditation for the Packaging Industry. Using hazard analysis critical control point procedures (HACCP), developed from its long-standing experience in the food industry, ADAS Hygiene Accreditation has quickly been recognised by many of the major food retailers and manufacturers as the standard to be accepted for packaging supply.

Many of the UK's leading packaging companies have already gained accreditation or are currently being audited. Ian Grey, business development manager at ADAS said "It has come as no surprise to me that so many UK packaging companies are working towards accreditation."

He went on to say, "Food companies have recognised the importance of this accreditation and have passed this message on to their packaging suppliers. What is surprising however, is the interest taken by non UK-based packaging suppliers."

The accreditation starts with an audit of the factory. manufacturing processes are carefully studied, with risks being weighed and matched to appropriate control measures. The audit looks in detail at personnel and their working practices, buildings and facilities, sanitary operations, equipment, raw material, warehousing and distribution, record-keeping and controls procedures.

Following the audit, hazards and risks are discussed. Changes or controls that will be acceptable to the packaging company and its customer base are agreed. To maintain confidence, the accreditation is subject to regular audits and is annually renewable.

Ron Burn, director at Jowetts Packaging, the Leeds-based folding carton company, commented, "As the first folding carton company to gain ADAS accreditation, Jowetts sent a clear message to its customers in the Food Industry, that it understands the high level of importance packaging plays in the food chain in their manufacturing processes."

Probably the most important and yet difficult challenge the packaging company faces, is changing the culture of the company to one where hygiene quality control is central to its operations. To many people in the packaging industry, food safety standards are a new concept. To achieve the levels of hygiene necessary, every member of staff within a company must understand what hygiene is all about and why it is important. staff training, therefore, becomes a vital element in the hygiene policy.

ADAS have designed a training course, aimed specifically at packaging hygiene, in conjunction with the packaging industry's authoritative body, the Institute of Packaging.

"Our employees now regard hygiene control as part of their everyday working practices." said Patrick Henry, personnel manager at Flexpack UK Ltd. He went on to say, "With having manufacturing locations both in the North and South of England, it was important to us that continuity occurred on training and accreditation. With ADAS being so widespread they were able to keep the continuity in everything they did, even though we were dealing with different people at the two sites."

ADAS accreditation now ensures that food manufacturers and processors can be confident that the packaging they use is manufactured under similar controls to that of their food.

For further information readers should contact ADAS Penrith at Agricola House, Gilwilly Trading Estate, Penrith, Cumbria, tel: 0768 65651.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Food Trade Press Ltd.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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