In this special guest article, Bosch Packaging Technology tells FoodProductionDaily.com about hygienic packaging and how it can help manufacturers achieve safety standards, avoid downtime and solidify brand loyalty.
Bosch said manufacturers must make sure to meet stringent hygiene requirements while simultaneously maintaining high production efficiency.
They said an important but often overlooked component of food safety is product packaging. Once the food has been processed, it is crucial to incorporate packaging technology that will safeguard products.
Below is the discussion from Patrick Lagarde, head of engineering and design manager at Robert Bosch Packaging Technology and Eric Aasen, product line manager – Vertical, Bosch Packaging Technology.
Q) There’s been an increased focus on hygiene and food safety over the past few years. What are some of the most important trends and regulations that affect manufacturers?
A) Lagarde: “Regional and international food safety guidelines are changing, and the trend has been towards intensifying regulations for greater control over safety – and this is true in developed and emerging markets.
“For example, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standards are the main standard in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia, but are also recognized globally. This means that brand owners must be BRC-certified to do business around the world.”
The BRC enacted Version 6 to enhance consumer safety, including an increased emphasis on hygienic packaging, he added.
Q) How can packaging contribute to ensuring that manufacturers meet these regulations?
A) Aasen: “The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act has increased the attention US manufacturers now pay to the hygienic design of packaging machinery.
“Because food constantly comes into contact with various surfaces throughout the packaging line, manufacturers should make sure to incorporate packaging equipment designed for very strict hygiene standards.”
Q) Vertical packaging equipment has a unique configuration. How can this type of machinery be designed to support hygiene?
A) Lagarde: “Packaging machine manufacturers can begin by reducing the number and length of cables. In addition, machines should be constructed to eliminate holes and slots where food could be caught and become sources of contamination.
“Also, materials should be made from stainless steel to avoid rust, and stand up to the harsh chemicals used for cleaning.”
He added that another design element is placing key components in a separate isolated compartment.
“This will prevent them from getting dirty during production and protect them from the intense cleaning processes, ultimately saving manufacturers time and labor costs.”
Q) How does hygienic design help large manufacturers increase productivity?
A) Lagarde: “As manufacturers want to increase speed, they should choose machines designed for quick and easy cleaning to minimize downtime.
“Contaminated lines lead to downtime and product recall, potentially costing manufacturers millions of dollars and euros. In addition, consumers will associate the brand with unsafe products, causing them to opt for competing products and resulting in a decrease in sales.”
Q) Are there specific industries in which hygienic design is more important? If so, why?
A) Aasen: “Hygienic design is especially important for the fresh and frozen food industry due to the nature of the products. In addition, products high in protein are prone to bacteria build up, necessitating that any residue be quickly and easily removed.”
He cited examples such as fresh lettuce and vegetables and poultry products (frozen and fresh).
“Hygienic design is also crucial in the confectionery industry due to the fragile nature of many of these products, which often need gentle product handling to prevent product breakage, which can accumulate and clog the system.”