PLANT

PACsecure raises food packaging safety standards


Pressure sensitive roll labels in production at Jones Packaging in London, Ont.
Photo by Stephen Uhraney

Canadians can be pretty picky about their food quality, and rightly so; but how about the way it’s delivered to them in the marketplace? That’s not really a pressing concern for most of us, if we give it any thought at all.

Despite this public indifference to such an integral part of the food chain, the packaging industry has adopted improved health and safety standards in plant operations, and is working to deliver products that meet strict consumer protection guidelines.

The Packaging Association of Canada (PAC) developed its PACsecure standards (see http://www.pac.ca/Services/haccphome.html) over the past five years through the efforts of an 80-person steering committee. This body included packaging companies, food manufacturers and material suppliers working in conjunction with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and other government department representatives and experts in the field of agriculture, such as the Guelph Food Technology Centre.

The new standards put in place for plastics, paper, metal and glass packaging, harmonize with the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) protocol used by the global food and beverage industry. The protocol (see http://www.qmi.com/information_center/literature/FoodSafetyBrochure.pdf for information from QMI SAI Global) is a systematic and preventive approach to food safety. It addresses biological, chemical and physical hazards through preventive action in the production process rather than by finished product inspection and is recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.

There is a growing trend among domestic and international food producers that packaging suppliers have a recognized food safe system for packaging materials in place. “Based on our knowledge, these new PACsecure standards are the most comprehensive food safety standard for packaging materials in the world,” says Jim Downham, CEO of PAC. In effect, he adds, “it ensures that preventive food safety controls, based on science, will be applied in a systematic and consistent manner. We have already received requests for them from organizations and government agencies around the world.”