Safety First When Considering Food Packaging

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Have you ever thought about the packaging that your food comes in? Most people haven’t. But despite that relative lack of interest and knowledge by consumers, the packaging that food comes in plays many important roles.

One of the most important roles of food packaging is food safety. Each year about one out of every six people in the U.S. gets a food-borne illness, and about 3,000 people die from related complications. Though not all or even most of those instances are due to improper packaging, some are. Packaging machines can become contaminated, manufacturers and producers can use the wrong type of packaging and x-ray food inspection and other quality-control methods can fail. Consumers also can put themselves at risk by not properly repackaging food that has been opened. Food that can spoil should be repacked in vacuum pouches or food shrink bags and stored in an appropriate place at appropriate temperatures — below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for refrigerated foods and at 0 degrees or below for frozen items.

The printing and images that are on food packaging also play a vital role. Listing ingredients can play a role in safety, listing potential allergens and other ingredients that could be harmful to other groups of people. Mostly, though, packaging serves as an advertising and marketing vehicle for food. More than half of all people say they make purchasing decisions at least partly based on the packaging, and they want to know about a product’s environmental and social impact. That makes food packaging very important in making sure the producer gets the right message out about its food product.

One final important role that food packaging plays is with the environment. Using the right type of food packaging can help ensure that you are environmentally friendly while also saving you money by eliminating waste. For example, you can package about 10 gallons of liquids with 2 pounds of plastic. It would take 3 pounds of aluminum, 8 pounds of steel and 40 pounds of glass to package the same amount. That can actually make plastic more environmentally friendly, because there is less of it. It also, of course, will be cheaper to use your packaging machines.

Whatever your food packaging needs, the most important consideration is safety. Marketing and environmental concerns come in a distant second place.

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