How Do FSMA Regulations Impact Your Packaging Choices?

    From food growers to packaging companies and transportation providers, everyone in the American food industry is subject to the Food Safety Modernization Act or FSMA. Signed into law in 2011, there is no aspect of getting food to the end user's table that is not affected in some way. With tighter, more comprehensive regulations designed to protect food from contamination being the new norm, flexible packaging helps you stay compliant proactively.

    Test Packaging on the Front End to Help Control Contamination Risks

    One of the most prominent features of the FSMA is prevention. It removes food safety risks before they have a chance to materialize. With flexible materials, you have access to rigorous testing before putting any material into your production line. Testing reveals how a flexible packaging film will perform for a specific food product under numerous conditions, from filling to refrigeration (and including heating in the case of cook/chill films).

    Understanding the distinct strengths and weaknesses of the material lets you proactively address risks that could result in migration and contamination. It also helps clarify which films react best under certain transportation conditions. Testing helps you select the most appropriate food packaging material or combination of materials and guides other decisions such as refrigeration requirements.

    Testing aligns with the partnership and shared responsibility approach of the FSMA. Not only does the act tighten bonds between national and international food safety agencies at every level, it encourages collaboration between food production, packaging, transportation, and retail stores. For example, your choice of packaging helps transportation companies meet their own FSMA Sanitary Transportation of Food (STF) goals.

    Flexible packaging Data from flexible packaging testing reveals the right materials for every individual food product.

    Customize Packaging for Unique Foods

    Recalling contaminated foods is within the government’s reach, but you know the old saying about an ounce of prevention.  At the packaging level, a customized container is better at preventing food contamination than something that is more of a one-size-fits-most solution. According to Packaging Strategies, flexible packaging design can directly affect contamination risks in a positive way.

    Customization is difficult to achieve with some materials. For example, it is costly to produce a unique glass container for several different food products. Flexible packaging offers a choice between numerous films in a nearly limitless range of dimensions and packaging configurations. Packaging production has a faster turn-around time, and it is also more cost-effective.

    Flexible materials can easily be designed from the ground up to prevent contamination. There is nothing more proactive than that. Package dimensions, barrier coatings, dispensing taps, and many other choices are possible in large or smaller production runs. The same choices are possible for an enormous range of foods and beverages.

    Store in Bulk, Dispense Without Introducing Contaminants

    Bulk packaging, such as for oils used in restaurants, trims packaging waste, but it introduces a food safety concern. Once it is opened, air, bacteria, and other contaminants can filter in. Smaller packaging could help, but you would lose the convenience and cost efficiency of storing in bulk. With flexible packaging, you can remain FSMA compliant and still enjoy the cost-saving and efficient nature of bulk packaging.

    A dispensing tap transforms a bulk package into a storage plus daily use container without compromising freshness or introducing air, bacteria, or other contaminants. Sauces, beverages, and more viscous foods such as jams can arrive in bulk, dispense on demand, and guard against contamination with a consistent barrier.

    One of the smartest iterations of flexible bulk packaging uses an air chamber that expands as the product is dispensed. It helps eliminate product waste. Thick or syrupy foods dispense as easily as liquids because the air chamber forces product through the tap.

    The Food Safety Modernization Act takes the onus off one party and distributes evenly across everyone who handles food products in your supply chain. At each level, preventative measures cut contamination risks for fewer incidents of food-borne illnesses and product recalls.

    Food packaging has a serious job. It has to contain food without breakage in the warehouse, on a pallet, in transport, and in service with the end user. Each step of the way, there is some potential for contamination that packaging must address. Flexible packaging manages every point of that journey. It is durable, compatible with new sanitizable filling machines, and offers numerous choices in protective films that keep food fresher longer.

    To learn more about how flexible food packaging can help you meet FSMA compliance goals, contact us for a free sample and download our corporate brochure.

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