If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s the importance of taking steps to protect our loved ones, particularly the youngest among us: the infants who look to us for care and nourishment.
This makes it all the more confusing and scary when reports show us that leading brand-name baby foods may contain significant levels of harsh or toxic substances, such as arsenic, cadmium, and lead.
This is clearly an issue, but it’s one that we can certainly figure out together. For example, it seems that one method for ensuring baby food safety already exists: Baby food manufacturers can help control heavy metal contamination through savvy, safe packaging strategies. The CEO of one baby food company says, “We can always control contaminants. You start with your environment, you start with your ingredients, start with your suppliers." The takeaway? This doesn’t have to be an ongoing problem. We just have to do our research and make sure that we can trust every single step of our manufacturing and packaging processes.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Start out by narrowing your sights on trusted, clean packaging.
As it turns out, there are many chemicals and contaminants that can go into packaging: substances from heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, mercury, and hexavalent chromium to phthalates, perchlorate, PFAs, and more. If your food is packed in bags that carry or exude these substances, it almost doesn’t matter how clean your other manufacturing processes are—your packaging will leach toxins into your product.
Taking the time now to switch to a simpler, cleaner packaging solution will help your bottom line too because industry trends are only pointing toward further regulations against chemicals in packaging. You can establish trust with your consumers and future-proof your processes with one strategic choice.
2. Think above and beyond FDA regulations.
The FDA doesn’t actually regulate or approve types of packaging; instead, it determines whether or not the materials that a company uses in packaging are compliant or not. This can be confusing for consumers to navigate because there is an incredibly large number of packaging types made out of many different materials.
While doing your flexible packaging supplier research, look for a company that tells you exactly what they make their bags out of—for example, 100 percent virgin polypropylene. This substance is not only compliant with FDA requirements for packaging that will come in contact with food, but it’s also non-recycled. It hasn’t been used before—ever. This allows packaging companies and manufacturers to be 100 percent sure their packaging is contaminate free.
3. Learn what to look for in terms of safety and quality accreditations.
Here’s an inside tip: There are many different food packaging production levels to which bulk bag suppliers can customize baby food bags. Each of these levels requires specific procedures and protocols and results in differing attributes among the finished products. In order to make sure that every food-grade bag actually is food grade, there are organizations that oversee these production levels and safety standards. One such organization is Brand Reputation through Compliance (formerly the British Retail Consortium). There are also certifications that packaging manufacturers can earn, such as the Food Safety System Certification 22000.
When you’re looking for suppliers, investigate whether their plants are accredited through these organizations. Why? These associations and certifications show that a packaging manufacturer is dedicated to offering very specific, highly clean, highly safe types of bags. When you’re making a bulk bag order, you want to know that every process and plant involved in creating your packaging has been vetted in this highly standardized way.
4. Figure out exactly how your packaging manufacturer prevents contamination.
Ask for documentation, follow up on accreditation, and ensure that your contact at your packaging manufacturer can tell you exactly how they ensure compliance and best practices. For example, you’ll want to see that all oils and lubricants used in the manufacturing process are checked for heavy metals before they’re used. You’ll want to know that there are Certificates of Analysis for all raw materials used to make your bags. You’ll want to know that your manufacturer has a plan for detecting any metals that could contaminate the bags while they’re being manufactured, down to minute levels of contaminants that could easily go unseen.
This is a lot to follow up on, but it’s the only way to know for sure that your food-grade packaging is 100 percent safe. Your bag supplier should be up front about their practices, materials, and certifications, so start by asking them about it to see what you can learn!
Keep your products pure and safe with reliable packaging solutions.
It’s all about documentation, clean practices, and constant communication! Ensuring that your packaging is consistently food grade takes due diligence, but if you take the time to vet your bulk bag supplier and you’re able to establish a relationship with a bag supplier you can trust, you’ll save yourself plenty of headaches in the future. Most importantly, you’ll also be able to know that you’re keeping your consumers and their loved ones safe!
At Conitex Sonoco, we’re dedicated to manufacturing and customizing sustainable packaging solutions that work for you, including food-grade packaging that goes above and beyond the minimum standards for safety. We offer food-safe bulk bags accredited to a variety of GFSI-recognized food certifications and standards such as AIB, BRC, FSSC 22000, IFS, and SQF. Reach out to our friendly team today to learn more about our certifications and standards or to talk about packaging strategies.