How food is packaged is essential for hygiene, protection and preservation. Good packaging also makes the product more attractive to the customer, facilitates transportation and provides vital information about the product, some of which is required by law. Weights And Measures In Packaging
If you don’t comply with packaging regulations you could be prosecuted. If your business sells food products by weight or volume you must use metric quantities such as kilograms or litres and label them accurately. Some products, such as beer, are still sold using the imperial system, but they are the exception rather than the rule. If you adhere to the rules when measuring your products you are entitled to use an ‘e’ mark on the label. This allows you to distribute your products in the EU without having to follow other weights and measures rules. This is applicable to packages of between five grammes to ten kilogrammes or five mililitres to ten litres. Your packaging must use the metric system. Imperial measurements can be shown as well, but must be less prominent than metric measurements.
Accurate Measurement Is Vital
There are two ways with which to measure the contents of your packaging. You can either use equipment which meets approved standards to make up each package or you can check a sample of packages. For clarity, the weight of the package does not include the food packaging. Approved equipment must be clearly marked with a ‘CE‘ mark, a black ‘M’ on a green background and a four digit number. If you choose to go down this route, you must make certain that all packaging contains at least the stated amount.
If you choose to check a sample of your packages, you must ensure that the average weight or measure is no less than what is stated on the label, only a certain number of packages fall below this average and that none of the packages are too far below the average. Exact amounts will depend on the nature of the product and the weight or measure of each package.
A Choice Of Packaging Materials
With such a wide variety of products available for packaging, manufacturers must consider not only what is most suitable for their product but also what is most cost-effective. Plastics are the most widely used packaging material for food and beverages because of their versatility and their resistance to acids and other chemicals. They can also be printed on, are lightweight and cheap to produce. Other food and beverage packaging materials include paper, card, metal and glass, each have their own distinctive qualities and suitability for different food-stuffs. Today, recycled and recyclable packaging is more common as customers demand eco-friendly solutions.
Food packaging is now a highly technical industry, with complex requirements requiring sophisticated solutions. Whether large or small-scale, food manufacturers need to adhere to a varied raft of guidelines, legislation and customer preferences. Mechanisation has improved manufacturers’ capabilities to meet today’s stringent requirements and automated machinery, can enhance mechanisation, speed up production and, therefore, help to increase profits.
Beth Evans writes regularly on packaging issues for a range of food and beverage packaging blogs and websites such as www.ishidaeurope.com. Her main focus is on how manufacturers adapt and comply with constantly-changing legislation.