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Sev-Rend staying ahead of packaging safety regs

As food-safety standards continually rise, an issue to be considered in produce packing is the package per se. Is it clean? And, far beyond that, might the package carry carcinogens? Could they be transferred to the contents?

On Aug. 30, the State of California moved in that direction with new guidelines on food packaging, according to packaging manufacturer, Sev-Rend Corp.

“These are new rules and regulations that are stricter for food safety,” said Jeff Watkin, Sev-Rend’s graphics and marketing manager.

Sev-Rend-building “We anticipated these things coming up,” as Sev-Rend has been working with its third-party regulatory experts, additive specialists, analytical testing labs and a food-safety auditor — the American Institute of Baking — to assure that its packaging clears these and other food-safety concerns.

“We don’t foresee these rules loosening up,” he added.

With the FDA audits, “We can confirm that Sev-Rend food contact products contain only ingredients that have been reviewed by the FDA and published in their regulations. We do not rely on the ‘threshold of regulation and safe harbor loopholes’ like many other packaging suppliers do.”

“This is one step further toward food-safety assurance,” Watkin said. “We can avoid the situation where a product can be certified as compliant with FDA guidelines but still contain an ingredient known by the State of California to be a carcinogen or reproductive toxin.

“Especially when we talk to our customers on the West Coast. We’ve had a lot of feedback from sales managers, who are relaying concerns from their customers.”

Troubleshooting internal audits keep Sev-Rend ahead of the curve, Watkin noted.

Tony O’Driscoll, Sev-Rend’s vice president of sales and marketing, said “a lot of education is involved” to communicate these matters to customers.

Watkin noted that this matter is not one to be absorbed by “a 5,000-foot view. You’ve got to get down in the weeds” to understand the technical implications of new package considerations.

O’Driscoll cautions the North American industry that offshore packaging manufacturers don’t operate with the same food-safety guidelines that are developing in the United States.

“European and Asian countries do not have regulations for packaging requiring the testing of ingredients,” O’Driscoll noted.

Watkin said produce packers who bargain shop in China will receive “quality that may not be bad.”

But going forward, the safety of the packaging “is something they will run into. There are not the rules and regulations in place.”

China is not alone in that deficiency, he added.

“I’m sure there are materials out there that may be safe but why take the risk?” O’Driscoll said.

Sev-Rend celebrates its 25th year anniversary in 2018. Sev-Rend is a domestic supplier that is strategically located near St. Louis in Collinsville, IL.