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Food safety standard for packaging materials goes global

By Larry Dworkin, director, government relations, PAC-The Packaging Assn.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Packaging Digest's recent webcast "Food Safety & Packaging" included a presentation about the IFS PACsecure program. You can still listen to the recording by registering here.

The global demand for food safety from consumers, governments and food retailers has put unprecedented scrutiny on the international food supply chain. 


As packaging is a key component, the IFS PACsecure food safety standard for individual packaging materials is being rolled out globally as companies from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Chile and Europe are being trained and audited to its criteria.


The standard is also expected to receive recognition from the Paris-based Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) by the end of spring.


Developed by PAC-The Packaging Assn., in conjunction with IFS Management GmbH, more than 70 U.S. and Canadian firms recently completed a one-day training course to help them to become compliant with the standard. Several have already been audited to its requirements and their names are being submitted to the GFSI as part of the benchmarking process.


More than 13,000 certifications
One day training courses for packaging plant managers and quality and assurance personnel were recently held in St. Paul, MN., Vancouver, B.C. and Montreal, Que. More are being planned for later this year in the U.S., Europe, Brazil and Chile.


For its part, IFS is one of the world's largest safety and quality standards organizations with more than 13,000 certifications for its GFSI recognized food safety standard. In addition to packaging, it manages standards governing logistics, brokers, cash and carry/ wholesale, household and personal care goods.


IFS PACsecure was developed by PAC through a 100 plus-member steering committee of some of North America's leading global packaging and food manufacturers to provide packaging firms the ability to certify primary and secondary packaging materials for the food industry.

Identifying risks
Over the past decade, PAC has developed the food safety standard based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) criteria for individual packaging materials directly related to the 24 common manufacturing processes required for flexible plastics, rigid plastics, paper, metals and glass packaging.


This involved developing individual workbooks for each of the processes. In effect, it takes the standard "down from the 60,000 foot level to the shop floor," allowing individual firms to use a science and risk-based approach in developing their individual HACCP program.


The standard is being managed by a joint effort of PAC through its technical expertise and know-how in the packaging industry and IFS through its global network of food safety and quality standards infrastructure.


One size does not fit all
Because of the many different processes involved in packaging manufacturing, one size does not fit all when it comes to implementing a food safety standard for the different materials.


That's why PAC developed the 24 individual workbooks so each firm can follow the HACCP processes based of the plant schematic that relates directly to their manufacturing operation.


In support of the standard, PAC has also developed a number of related tools and services. These include:


• Providing a hazard analysis implementation tool outlining the physical, chemical and biological implications of almost every material, chemical and process used in the manufacture of packaging materials. Work has been completed on paper and flexible plastics packaging.


• Providing a good manufacturing practices audit tool that identifies acceptable limits, monitoring procedures, deviation procedures, verification procedures and records for the above mentioned materials, chemicals, processes and shortly allergens. Work is completed on paper and flexible plastics packaging.


• Seminars to better understand issues as the composition and implications of materials, inks, dyes and adhesives involved in packaging.


• Providing both an online training tool about food safety in packaging plants for employees as well as a "how to" guideline covering recall and traceability issues.


Source: PAC-The Packaging Assn.

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