Packaging Snippets from Around the World

Information on Events from Melbourne :

Back Peddling Leaves No Carbon Footprint (Australia) | Towards Sustainable Packaging (Australia) | Packaging Myths (South Africa) | Testing for Productivity (Australia) | The Seven Laws of Efficient Packaging | LABELLING - The Intricacies and Applications | First World Packaging from the Tip of Africa | Information on Events from Melbourne : | Change the Climate, Change the Planet | Its in the Can - Or is it? | Sustainable Packaging : Threats and Opportunities | World Packaging Organisation : President's Visit to Ukraine : February 2009 | Will the Rot Set In? Renewabale and Compostable Packaging. | Report on Australian IoP Conference - June 2010 | Labels Get Teeth (New labelling laws - South Africa) | Australian IOP : The Packaging Supply Chain | Australian IOP : "Less is the New Green" | AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF PACKAGING - Perfomance Enhancing Packaging | The Role of Packaging in Minimising Food Waste in the Supply Chain

The title Double Headed Penny and reference to spin is related to an Australian Game of Odds and Evens where two pennies are placed on a board and spun in the air! The audience bet on the result of heads [our coins always have the sovereign's head on one side] or tails. Some spinners have been known to have manufactured pennies with heads on both sides.

Information about activities in Melbourne

Double Headed Penny

The advice of meeting for the September gathering of the Australian Institute of Packaging [AIP] said that the theme was Packaging and Food Science & Technology – The two sides of the coin; - where a representative from the AIP will talk about important things concerning packaging and technology relevant to a food science technologist, and this will be complemented by an Australian Food Science and Technology [AIFST] representative talking about important things about food science and technology relevant to a food packaging person.

The audience comprised of members from both AIP and AIFST and totalled in the high fifties with a small majority in favour of AIFST, but that would be expected as during the presentations we learned that food is the largest sector in manufacturing requiring packaging. But having heard about both sides of the coin it would be fair to say that it is more of a "double headed penny" as technologists working in food science or packaging both need to checklist many of the exact same things.

The meeting was the annual joint effort of the two groups when presenters from within the memberships stood before their peers and provided salient indicators of how to develop the optimum food package. The coin had been tossed earlier and Ralph Moyle, the current Victorian AIP Chairperson and Director Southern Electorate had first spin.

Ralph's presentation covered many issues but was underpinned by an early statement "both must become involved in the whole supply chain". He went onto give definitions of packaging which can be encapsulated using the same word. Having encapsulated food in what is known as the primary pack it then enters the supply chain and needs secondary and tertiary packing to be available for the consumer. An example would be canned soup in a shelf ready fibreboard shipper on a shrink wrapped pallet.
Interestingly it occurred whilst listening to the speakers that food can have a further critical distribution channel within the domestic environment. A frypan will be removed from its package and the chain ends, but bacon and eggs for the frypan has extended links  for they have to be stored and in some cases resealed, but have to retain the integrity of the package that came from original production.

Food is no different than any other product when designing a package but is completely different in its needs as spoilage can lead to serious side effects, even death! But in the most competitive of markets the packaging technologist will be bombarded by marketing demands to provide differences but retain brand image. Overarching any of these issues will be the legal and environmental requirements such as labelling and recyclability.

Ralph Moyle's clearest message was to have a most comprehensive check list to connect the food and the package which he succinctly put as "what is the reason"! The other side of the coin seemed reason enough to hand the microphone over to Maurice Pattison, MAIFST a consulting food technologist with a diverse food industry background.

Between the presenters time out was called and fellowship certificates were presented to two AIP members Greg Roberts and Mike Morgan both of whom had been nominated and elevated to Fellow at the recent Annual General Meeting of AIP.

The linchpin of Maurice Pattison's desideration was that people put food inside their bodies and there is an increased emphasis on diet and health with safety being paramount. He talked about hazard analysis and critical control points with Protection, Preservation and Presentation being the three most important aspects of a food package.

In a tutorial on food science we were taken into the mysteries of spoilage and microbiological impacts on food improperly packaged. Ironclad hygiene and sanitation protocols are paramount in food processing and packaging and there are many variations on the theme. For instance food packaged for a supermarket dairy case commonly known as chilled is more exacting than that destined for the frozen food cabinets, yet the product can be the same. [Consider yoghurt which can be found in either part of the Supermarket] Both of these packages are of course different to those "foodies" call shelf stable such as canned, bottled or cartooned staples like  fruit, sauce and breakfast cereals.

We learnt that it is important not to bracket all seemingly similar foods or foods of a generic group, such as cheeses, together and believe that they all have similar potential for food safety implications, because this is not always the case.

Under HACCP [hazard analysis and critical control points] protocols operating in the food industry a company can declare "approved suppliers" which can give some confidence in product delivery but complacency could lead to disaster.

The requirements of a food package are really from production to plate and even at point of sale things like ultra-violet light and incorrect shelf placement can be a problem. A major predicament is failure in integrity of colour in brands for it is often the brand image that determines the market placement of food products. Labelling got a seeing to but Maurice succinctly summed up labelling with the advice "Do what you say on your label before you put it on your label".

He is a strong advocate for project management of new packages and face to face communication is still his preferred choice although emails are becoming the main communication stream.

Both presenters delivered the same message which was reminding of an advertisement that claimed "oils is not oils". Food is not food and packages are not packages…………………each has a life of its own and ignoring the requirements of the product could cost a life.

AIP in Victoria is supported by the Australian Industry Group through the Victorian Government Industry Skills Adviser initiative.

Written by Michael B Halley FAIP
Thursday, 4 September 2008