Revising food packaging standards will reflect industry practices - USDA

By Mark Astley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Packaging

USDA is requesting comment on the proposal
USDA is requesting comment on the proposal
The revision of US food container inspection law has been proposed, with the aim of bringing the regulation up to speed with 21st century food packaging technology.

The US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is requesting comment on proposed changes to the US Standards for Condition of Food Containers – which was last amended in May 1983.

AMS develops and revises inspection standards to ensure that the quality of food product packaging is sufficient to maintain food product quality.

The current standard provides guidance on inspection procedures, but does not directly account for recently developed food packaging applications.

The proposed modifications, which have been developed to reflect current industry practices, would include the simplification of the standard, the incorporation of standards for new packaging technologies and optional guidelines for evaluating container interiors.

The proposal added, that under the revision, the standards would continue to be voluntary.

Aseptic packaging, metal cans, plastic rings

“These revisions are necessary in order to provide standards that reflect current industry practices,”​ said the proposal.

The aim of this is to “incorporate new defects and revise existing defects to reflect new packaging technologies such as aseptic packaging, metal cans with easy open lids and plastic rings that hold several containers together.”

“These new food containers are not represented by the current standards.”

The changes would affect over 22,000 food manufacturing establishments in the US.

Any number of these could request to have their product containers inspected to ensure that their packaging maintain the quality of their food.

“These revisions to existing tables, addition of new tables, removal of OC curves, and updating language in the US Standards for Condition of Food Containers would enable the standards to be applicable to most types of food containers and align the standards to reflect current industry practices.”

Ensure food is safe

The current Standard provides guidance on sampling procedures and acceptance criteria for the inspection of stationary lots of filled food containers – including skip lot sampling and inspections procedures.

It also provides on-line sampling and inspections procedures for food containers during production.

“This helps to identify trouble spots in a production cycle quickly, and enables the producer to make timely corrections.”

“This can reduce the corrective action costs and the amount of product destroyed as a result of packaging problems,” ​the current standards state.

Commenting on the proposal, AMS acting administrator Robert Keeney said, “Updating the standards to reflect the advances in packaging technologies will help ensure that food containers are germ-free and the food supply is safe.”

Notice of the proposed US Standards for Condition of Food Containers revision was published in the Federal Register. Comments on the proposed changes must be received on or before 19 March 2012.

To read or comment on the proposal click here.

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