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FLEXO Magazine : November 2011
Food Packaging Safety Reducing the Risk of Migration By Anthony Bean Today, brand owners’ continually demand packag- ing that must provide shelf appeal, offer significantly enhanced communication, be recyclable and sustain- able, extend the shelf life, be lightweight, at times serve as a cooking vessel; and, in some cases, even self-heat. All of these attributes must come at a reasonable cost against alternatives in an ever tougher market. At the same time, the regulatory landscape is making it safer, but more complex, for the package to comply with all the stipulations that are being placed upon it. Over the past 10 years, in Europe especially, there has been an increasing number of food packaging migration alerts highlighted by several product withdrawals from supermarket shelves. These migration alerts have resulted in growing scrutiny regarding the design and production of compliant food packaging. Due to tighter regulations and restrictions in Europe, flexible packaging printers and converters face a greater challenge than ever to ensure that they meet brand owner requirements, but do so in a way that prevents packaging materials from migrating to food. DEFINING MIGRATION Migration from food packaging refers to the transfer of unwanted substances from the packaging to the packaged foodstuff itself. These changes are not always picked up by odor or taste tests, and are usually found by chemical analy- ses. The migrating substances can come from a variety of sources, including the packaging substrates, inks, coatings, adhesives, the printing press itself or the environment that the raw materials, work in progress or the finished printed pack, are stored in. Use of good packaging design and good manufacturing practices are therefore critical to reducing the risk of unwant- ed migration of packaging components. In Europe, packaging that is intended to come into contact with food must meet the requirements of EU Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004. The guiding principle of this legislation requires that food packaging should not transfer materials to the pack- aged goods in quantities that bring about a change in nature, substance or quality of the food, and must not be injurious to health. In addition, producers must operate using “Good Manufacturing Practice” (GMP) as defined in EU Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006. More recently, Swiss Regulatory Authorities have intro- duced an “Ordinance,” which specifically outlines lists of raw materials that can be used in food packaging inks. Each listed substance will eventually have a specific migration limit (SML) against which the down-stream stakeholders are expected to assure compliance. While technically this “Ordinance” only affects inks and packaging within Switzerland, its effects have been keenly felt throughout Europe and beyond. In fact, many customers and www.flexography.org noveMBeR 2011 FLEXO 33 FLX_November11.indd 33 11/8/11 3:53 PM