Safely packaging food

Organised by the Non-profit Food Initiative for Austria and the Hygienicum institute, the third symposium for food safety took place in Graz, Austria, from April 6-7, 2017.

The international packaging and paper company Mondi supported the event as a sponsor and expert with a workshop titled, ‘Conformity in food packaging’. Dr. Johannes Bergmair, vice president of the World Packaging Organisation, and Dr. Martin Messner, head of the Mondi Food Safety Laboratory, explained how improved communication and data exchange between all parties along the supply chain can ease the process of legal compliance.

Anyone who packs food is responsible for making sure that packaging is not harmful to health. But many food manufacturers feel abandoned and uninformed by packaging producers when it comes to conforming to legal regulations. For example, Mondi provided interesting insights into the compliance process of corrugated boxes, the complexity of which surprised many participants at the workshop. For instance, depending on the primary packaging and final application, conformity requires providing detailed descriptions of the converted paper grades, inks, adhesives and coatings being used.

The participants, inclusive of food producers and retailers, were impressed by the detailed knowledge and comprehensive services that Mondi offers at its in-house Food Safety Laboratory in Frantschach, Austria. The FSL operates in line with the strictest industry standards and supports Mondi’s paper mills in performing hygiene and GMP activities, as well as completing statements about food packaging conformity and handling other legal requirements. The aim of the FSL is to ensure centralised and systematic two-way communication, regarding incoming raw materials and outgoing products, in order to guarantee the conformity of packaging applications and to communicate any boundaries of usage.

Mondi is able to provide a rapid and transparent process of accreditation because it is integrated along the value chain, from wood to final corrugated box. In addition, integration with Mondi’s Consumer Goods Packaging business segment makes the process even more straightforward since all necessary knowledge is available in-house.

Food producers look for strong partners who can support them throughout the process of conforming to regulations. During the symposium, a demand for consistent communication standards was clearly evident. According to August Staudinger, managing director of GLi and organiser of the event: “The practical insights that Dr. Martin Messner of the Mondi Food Safety Laboratory contributed to our workshop were extremely valuable for participants. He exceeded their expectations in providing clarity about the process of achieving affirmations of conformity and the importance of good communication and data exchange.”