The Food Safety Alliance for Packaging, a technical committee of the Institute of Packaging Professionals, published new guidelines for food packaging suppliers this month.
FSAP is a group of individuals from food companies and the food packaging supply chain dedicated to raising food quality and safety awareness for the food packaging industry. The best practices released on March 9 mark the first public recognition by a packaging industry sector of the expectations and demands from food manufacturers, retailers, and consumers, according to the Environmental Defense Fund’s Tom Neltner and Maricel Maffini.
“The guidelines were developed by a working group of food company packaging experts. The goal was to provide a roadmap for packaging suppliers and producers on both quality issues and opportunities to minimize or eliminate chemicals of concern in food packaging,” the wrote. “A key objective was to harmonize the many different lists individual companies may have.”
The voluntary Food Packaging Product Stewardship Considerations call for eliminating heavy metals, perfluoro and polyfluoro-compounds with eight or more carbons for coating paper and paperboard, and polystyrene for oven or microwave applications.
Substances that should not be used intentionally where suitable alternatives exist:
- Phthalates in any packaging component
- Bisphenol A-based materials in can coatings and plastic resins
- Toluene as a solvent in ink formulation
- Shrink sleeves on glass containers of products that are spoon-fed or drunk directly from the bottle or jar
- Bromo- and chloro-phenol chemical treatments for wooden shipping pallets of food packaging
Use of the following should be minimized, according to the guidelines:
- C6 polyfluoro, C2 perfluoro ethers and other polyfluoro and perfluoro compounds for grease-proof coated paper and board
- Natural rubber latex in cold seal that comes in contact with food
- Antimony-based catalysts in PET resin, especially when used in high temperature applications
- Styrene with a maximum 400 mg/kg in polystyrene resin or lower if local regulations are more stringent
- Recycled solid board mineral oil hydrocarbons for paper and board
As the EDF’s Neltner and Maffini point out, the Food Packaging Product Stewardship Considerations also call for using recycled materials under certain conditions.
“For instance, post-consumer recycled plastic should be used when a favorable opinion from the FDA has been given for the specific process utilized,” they wrote. “Recycled paper, solid board, and corrugated board should be used based on an evaluation of supplier-provided testing results using the Recycling Paper Technical protocol.” In addition, recycled solid board should not exceed a target average level of 600 parts per million of mineral oil hydrocarbons in unprinted material.
The Food Safety Alliance for Packaging working group that developed the guidelines says they will review and update the full list periodically.
Sustainable packaging continues to be a concern for the food and beverage industry. Separate industry initiatives have targeted packaging waste. Polystyrene in particular has proven to be difficult to phase out. However, fast casual restaurants are increasingly looking for alternatives. The shift is being driven by polystyrene bans as well as consumer demand.
“Our research has brought us to the conclusion that over two-thirds of consumers are looking for sustainable practices and products,” Mark Marinozzi, vice president of PR and marketing at compostable products company World Centric told Environmental Leader recently. “They are very keen to support organizations that use plant-based containers.”
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