Safe Packaging - Essential for Food Supply

Preventing Communicable Disease Contamination

Packaging is a critical supply item for food, beverage, and product manufacturers because it protects products from hazards and damage as they make their way through the supply chain to the end consumer and it keeps products safe. It is as essential to food supply as is the food itself.

The strain put forth on the supply system by the Coronavirus outbreak makes the availability of packaging, particularly for food, pharmaceutical, medical, and other essential products more important than ever. It is essential that the packaging be safe for the consumer, free from contamination and hazards.

Grocery retailers have already taken steps to remove over the counter meats, deli items, and bulk foods in favour of packaged products.  This means packaged food sales have increased resulting in an unprecedented demand for materials.

With higher sales, along with challenges due to employee absences and government mandates, suppliers will require all the support and assistance they can get to ensure a steady supply.  The need to meet the challenges of good sanitation practices and rigorous monitoring of personnel hygiene will increase oversight by management.  Packaging companies that have already implemented good manufacturing practices and a food safety culture are well established to handle the situation.

Due Diligence Key to Prevention

However, for those companies that have yet to implement safe practices for food packaging materials, the need to exercise rigorous controls can be challenging. The diligent management of personnel hygiene and sanitation on the production floor is more important than ever, as is the monitoring of employee health and behaviour.

It is crucial that employers and employees understand their responsibility to ensure the good health of their workers and the safety of products. Governments have already communicated the need to self-isolate if presenting signs of illness, but companies also need to educate employees on the steps to be taken within their operations.

Of course, this can become a challenging situation when companies are already short of workers and workers lose their wages due to absence.  Senior managers and owners will need to be more diligent than ever to ensure the safety of their customers and ultimately, consumers.

Effective hand washing and sanitizing is key to slowing the transmission of germs, therefore, employee training for hand hygiene is top priority. Employees must also exercise caution to avoid product contamination when sneezing and coughing.

An effective sanitation program, visitor plan, and employee training program are all areas requiring attention. A well thought out sanitation program will reduce contamination of biological hazards, a visitor policy will ensure all staff and manufacturing personnel are aware of expectations, and training will help employees stay safe.

To assist packaging suppliers who are just getting started down this path, and have yet to implement good manufacturing practices, IFS is in the process of developing a more basic program. The IFS Global Markets PACsecure program will consist of two levels and is a steppingstone to full GFSI IFS PACsecure certification.

Personnel Hygiene Best Practices

In the meantime, we have created a list of personnel hygiene BEST PRACTICES for packaging suppliers to address the more immediate concern of Coronavirus transmission.

For companies wishing to implement a full product and process safety management program, PAC Packaging Consortium and IFS International Featured Standards offer the GFSI recognised IFS PACsecure standard.

We are here to help. If you require assistance of a packaging safety expert or require training, visit the IFS PACsecure website for a list of IFS Partners.

For more information, please contact Pius Gasser (gasser@ifs-certification.com) or Cheryl Sullivan (sullivan@ifs-certification.com).

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IFS representatives are here to help. Visit the Partners page for a list of Consultants and Training Centres.

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IFS Standards and Programs are recognized worldwide by retailers and major brand owners.

  • IFS Food and Global Markets Food
  • IFS Logistics and Global Markets Logistics
  • IFS Broker
  • IFS Wholesale / Cash & Carry
  • IFS Household and Personal Care (HPC) and Global Markets HPC
  • IFS PACsecure (Global Markets coming soon!)

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