Think you are in Mumbai and craving for quick food then Vada paav with tea is the best option for you and Poori Bhaji & tea will serve the same purpose in Delhi but when the vendor serves you the same wrapped in newspaper then will you go for it ??? The answer is
“Yes “ – if you are not aware enough about health risks.
“No “- If you are aware about the serious health risks of using newspaper for food contact.
Now, for those who answered No ‘another option is moving to packed food like cookies, buns, croissants, chips and similar snacks. The main reason of going ahead with packaged food is “trust to Food safety “and packaging material gives that confidence to consumer.
Now let’s take examples of commodities like Pulses, Rice, Sugar, Besan, Atta, etc. If these are sold loose, then risk of all type of contaminations (Physical, Microbiological, Chemical and Allergen) are very common and that’s why consumer is shifting from loose to packed. Great example of this movement is “Madhur” for sugar and “Ashirwad” in Atta category. I Love the one liner of Madhur’s Ad “Loose Nahi , Madhur Sahi”…
These days food manufacturers are putting serious efforts towards improving “Food Safety”, but just think the most important barrier to contamination, (i.e.) packaging is contaminating the food. Then, the whole concept of packaged food will turn out to be a joke.
Recently, there are many food safety incidents reported globally that were caused by Packaging materials. Hence currently, this would require a serious push to improve overall basic practices that minimize contamination at the packaging manufacturers’ end. Let’s discuss a few Pre-Requisites for the Packaging Industry:
Packaging Manufacturers must start focussing on infrastructure development. I have seen many packaging manufacturers (manufacturing food contact packaging materials) having very basic and sometimes poor infra. You can’t ensure contamination-free manufacturing, if your infra in not supporting you to do so. One needs to follow the very – very basic rules like –
– Facility has to be fully covered and weatherproof;
– All the doors must be designed to minimize dust, dirt and pests;
– No peeling paint, dampness, etc.;
– Easy Cleanable roofs and floors;
– Good Arrangements for drains and water used inside unit;
– Arrangements for ventilation is not turning out to be the source of contamination.
If you have visited any standard food manufacturing units, then you would have observed the personal hygiene requirements for food handlers. Similarly, packaging material manufacturers are required to strictly implement the same and some basics include:
– Usage of Food Safety Protective Equipment like Hair Caps, Clean Shoes, etc.;
– Following Jewellery Policy like no Jewellery at shop floor etc.;
– No long hairs, nails & Beards for people working on shop floor;
– Hand Wash facility before entering the shop floor;
– Refresher training to all shop floor champions.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
IPM is mostly ignored, but one of the most important Pre-Requisite for Food Safety related issues. Packaging Material Manufacturers must develop and implement well-defined IPM and these may include:
– Pre-assessment of the facility to identify the target pests and required control;
– Hire an approved pest control service provider to carry on the IPM;
– Dedicate one associate along with pest control service provider to monitor the progress;
– Put all the required control to ensure facility is free from pest.
Maintenance for Food Safety
Mostly, Packaging Material Manufacturers ignore “Food safety” angle, while preparing the maintenance plan and executing the same. Recently, one incident was observed where one nut and bolt was wrapped along with packing laminate. If not caught, then it would have been packed along with food. Hence, the below basics must be taken care of while drafting the maintenance plan:
– Consider after maintenance, cleaning of the machine;
– Missing part escalation;
– Usage of approved chemicals and lubricants;
– Preventive Maintenance on material contact surfaces.
All the materials used to manufacture the material must be fully traceable. This is required in the cases of any incidents of recall.
Generally, packaging materials are made using a variety of materials which gives very specific characteristics to the materials and any slight mix up may compromise with the quality of food packed inside. Hence, it is highly recommended that recipe of making specific material must be fully controlled and same must be tested time to time through mock audit.
The above Pre-Requisites are very very basic ones. Manufacturers must improve continually to achieve excellence when it comes to Food Safety.
About the Author: Anurag Mishra Food Safety, Quality and Packaging Professional Email ID: Anurag.firstname.lastname@example.org
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