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Food Safety Standards

Food safety is becoming ever more critical and standards are evolving that can have an impact throughout the entire supply chain.

April 2012 By Tom Polischuk
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Supplying packaging materials for the food and beverage industries is the life-blood of many package printers. Although not regulated nearly as stringently as medical and pharmaceutical products, the food industry has never-the-less been the center of unwanted attention in recent years with any number of recalls and contamination problems.

These problems notwithstanding, there have been increasing efforts to improve food safety standards and to bring the entire supply chain into the effort. In addition, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law last year, which is said to be the most sweeping reform in U.S. food safety laws in more than 70 years.

Founded in 1944, NSF International is an accredited, third-party provider of Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)-benchmarked standards certifications. These standards include Safe Quality Foods (SQF), British Retail Consortium (BRC), International Food Standard (IFS), and Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000, among others. As described on its Web site, "GFSI benchmarks existing food standards against food safety criteria, and also looks to develop mechanisms to exchange information in the supply chain, to raise consumer awareness, and to review existing good retail practices." Part of its charter is to reduce duplication in the supply chain through common acceptance of GFSI benchmarked schemes.

The Consumer Goods Forum, which oversees GFSI, is a global network of more than 650 retailers, manufacturers, and service providers. It recently held its annual Global Food Safety Conference in February. Robert Prevendar, director of supply chain food safety for NSF International's Global Food Safety Division, discussed food safety packaging standards at this conference. packagePRINTING caught up with Prevendar to get his perspective on the impact of these standards for package printers and converters.

What are some of the key objectives of food safety standards as they relate to food packaging?

Prevendar: Food Safety risks posed from packaging should be handled in the same way as those from producing and processing food. The industry is beginning to recognize that food safety is a shared responsibility and there is a strong need for an end-to-end supply chain approach to food safety.

Certification to Global Food Safety Initiative-benchmarked standards enables packagers to demonstrate to their supply chain partners—and ultimately major retailers—that they are a strong partner in food safety and have quality systems in place that ensure their packaging products will not have an adverse effect on the safety and quality of the food products they package.

 
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