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Packaging is Part of Food Safety, Too

By Holly Mockus   |   

It may not be edible, but packaging has a major impact on keeping food safe and displaying to customers the care with which your product is produced. Comprehensive food safety training is just as important for employees in the packaging industry as it is for those in food manufacturing facilities.

Training for packaging manufacturing employees should include, at a minimum, modules covering:

  • Good manufacturing practices (GMPs)
  • Allergen awareness
  • Handwashing
  • Basic microbiology
  • Sanitation practices

A robust training program will provide context to the workforce and include information about how the packaging is used and why. The following practices are important to both food manufacturers and consumers:

 

Product contact materials

  • All materials used must be appropriate for physical contact with foods
  • Sanitary handling during manufacture, to include GMPs
  • Sanitary storage and transportation
  • Allergen understanding and management
  • Conditions of use

 

Noncontact materials (materials that don’t physically contact foods)

  • Sanitary handling during manufacture
  • Sanitary storage and transport
  • Allergens used in process of manufacture

 

Printing

  • Ink appropriate for use and conditions
  • Traceability
  • Ingredient statements
  • Allergen declarations
  • No mixing of cartons or cases
  • Splices on printed film
  • Importance of line clearing between products

Customer partnerships can provide excellent forums for learning and knowledge exchange.  Sending associates to visit each other’s operation to discuss opportunities and challenges will build business relationships. Packaging manufacturers need to be sure their workforce is thoroughly trained and understands the pivotal role packaging plays in safely moving food from farm to fork.

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About the Author

With over 30 years of experience in the food industry at companies like ConAgra, Kellogg, and Sara Lee, Holly has recently joined the Alchemy Systems team where she currently helps the firm to create world class workforce development solutions for large, complex operations within the food industry.

Holly has held positions in food safety, quality assurance, sanitation, and plant regulatory affairs. She has authored several chapters related to the importance of record keeping and documentation in the food industry. She was honored to become the 2013 recipient of the Safe Quality Food Institute's Outstanding Achievement Award, and is passionate about the importance of training in the food industry including the cultivation of successful safety cultures.

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