Maryann Sanders, senior toxicologist, microbiologist and regulatory compliance specialist at Haley & Aldrich, says that 100 percent of the samples evaluated were below the sanitation levels of 1000 colony forming units (CFU) per swab for the organisms tested. The 1000 CFU per swab threshold used by the study was defined by Dr. Warriner from the University of Guelph, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, and the New South Wales Food Authority. The US Food and Drug Administration does not have guidelines for packaging bacterial levels.
The testing was conducted on 720 swab samples taken from containers from six different corrugated manufacturers in the Northwest, California and Florida. The corrugated container industry requested the third-party testing to confirm that corrugated containers provided for food packaging meet acceptable sanitation criteria at the point of use.
Nearly 90 percent of corrugated shipping containers produced in the US are recovered for recycling.