Munich (Pressweb) - Today’s consumers buy most of their foods pre-packaged. Food manufacturers are required by law to sell only foods that are not injurious to health. Food safety is an essential obligation. The experts at TÜV SÜD demonstrate that this applies as much to global food markets as to small-scale local and regional markets; they conduct global testing of foods, but also food packaging and all types of objects and materials that come into contact with foods.
It is against the law to sell safe foods in unsafe packaging. Packaging and any other materials that come into contact with foods must meet the full range of safety criteria. In today‘s society, food is universally available at virtually every level of processing and preparation. Ready-to-eat products are often preserved, chilled or frozen for rapid microwaving when required. At petrol stations, railway stations, drive-ins and supermarkets of all kinds and in even air travel – under even the most exceptional conditions of air pressure and oxygen supply – the freshness and health value of the foods must remain unimpaired. This means that the materials in which they are packaged must also be up to the task, whether they merely touch part of the foods or enclose them completely.
Good news for consumers: safety requirements for packaging and contact materials have risen continuously over the past years to reach today’s high standards. The European Union has established a clear-cut legal framework that regulates the criteria that food packaging and contact materials must comply with . “According to the applicable regulations and standards, materials that come into contact with foods must be safe according to the legal definition of the term. In other words, no constituents that could be harmful to human health must be transferred to the foods”, explains Gabriele Glomsda, Head of Chemical Analysis at TÜV SÜD. “The composition, smell and taste of the food must remain unaffected, In addition, the manufacturing processes of the materials must be traceable.” In individual cases, transfer of materials is sometimes unavoidable for technical reasons; here, care must be taken that consumers’ health is not affected and that all applicable tolerance values for such transfers are complied with. Packaging must also not deceive consumers.
However, the international packaging technology industry is not idle; innovative materials with new properties are constantly launched onto the market all over the world. One such area involves “active” packaging: materials which absorb or release substances to improve the quality or extend the shelf life of packaged foods. “Intelligent” materials, on the other hand, measure the condition of the packaged foods or their direct environment and indicate characteristics such as the foods’ freshness. Official approval procedures for food packaging and contact materials differ widely at international level; what may be considered good packaging in China may not be regarded as such in Europe. In times of globalised production, food manufacturers must take a range of diverse laws into consideration when designing their packaged food and beverage products. “We therefore provide support for the manufacturers of packaging and packaged foods throughout the world, guiding them through the applicable laws and regulations and providing an extensive range of testing and certification to protect consumers’ health”, states Glomsda.
Once all legal standards of packaging and contact materials have been fulfilled, the product can be launched on the market. Consumers considering the purchase of food packaging or kitchen equipment such as chopping boards or storage containers should watch out for specific labelling. Guidance is provided by the European Union’s “food safe” symbol, showing a stylised wine glass and fork, or the printed label “suitable for food contact”. Many products state the exact purpose – information which must be shown on the product packaging or labels, or in exceptional cases displayed separately if the area on the product itself is too small. If the product is obviously classified as designed for use with foods, such as plastic cutlery, this labelling can be omitted.
For more information about TÜV SÜD, visit www.tuev-sued.de.