September is National Food Safety Education Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness about food safety and promoting safe food handling practices to prevent foodborne illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate there are 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses annually – that’s about one in six Americans each year.
Packaging manufacturers who support food products follow stringent global safety standards to promote food safety. There are also characteristics of each packaging material: corrugated, plastic, metal and glass, that make them well-suited to maintain food safety along the supply chain.
Corrugated packaging is a preferred material for bulk food containers and secondary or non-direct packaging. Corrugated packaging offers businesses economical transport and delivery of their goods in a package that can be branded and customized in endless variations. Corrugated packaging is hygienic and protects the integrity of the food supply. It also supports a circular economy as it is easily recycled.
Want to know more? Here are six ways corrugated packaging supports food safety efforts.
- Structural integrity: The robust nature of corrugated boxes ensures they can withstand the rigors of transportation and handling. This structural integrity is vital for preventing physical damage to produce or packaged foods, such as crushing or impact-related spoilage. By maintaining their shape and strength, corrugated boxes minimize the risk of contamination or deterioration during transit, thereby preserving food safety and reducing food loss.
- Protective barrier: Corrugated boxes act as a protective barrier, shielding food items from environmental factors that could compromise their safety. The sturdy construction of corrugated boxes provides a physical barrier against moisture, humidity, and temperature fluctuations. It also prevents the transfer of contaminants and maintains the freshness of the enclosed food.
- Customizable inserts: Corrugated boxes can be customized with inserts, dividers, or partitions to create separate compartments for individual food items. This helps prevent contact and potential contamination between different products within the same packaging. Keeping items secure and separated reduces the risk of cross-contamination and food damage, thus enhancing food safety and hygiene.
- Hygienic material: Multiple studies have demonstrated how the corrugated manufacturing process creates a sanitary packaging material. This is due to the amount of time the product spends under high temperatures, which eliminates dangerous organisms and bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella. Another feature, corrugated packaging is often single use, so each new order starts with a fresh slate. This characteristic significantly reduces the possibility of introducing contaminants into the supply chain.
- Absorption and resistance: Corrugated boxes can be both moisture-absorbent or resistant. This is a unique quality that significantly impacts the lifespan of perishable items. For foods that release liquids during transportation and storage, moisture absorption can maintain food integrity and texture by preventing spoilage. Conversely, corrugated boxes can be treated with water-resistant coatings or liners to reduce water absorption. This is ideal in cases where water damage or mold growth is a concern.
- Environmentally sustainable: Corrugated packaging is made from renewable, plant-based resources and is recyclable. According to the Fibre Box Association, about 90 percent of corrugated materials produced in the United States are successfully recovered and recycled. On average, new boxes contain 52 percent recycled fiber. This process significantly reduces the amount of trash and materials deposited into landfills and supports a more circular economy.
For more about our extensive quality control and assurance measures, contact Peachtree Packaging & Display QA/QC Manager Jacob Bucher. To learn more about National Food Safety Month, visit the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.