Quality Unbagged: Transparency and Compliance to FIBC Solutions
They say, “You are what you eat.” Today, more than ever, customers are taking a closer look at what goes into their bodies—from the food they consume to the packaging it comes in. Furthermore, brands have seen an uptick in the selling power of transparency, with a recent report noting that 65% of shoppers would switch to brands that reveal product origins and overall supply chain transparency.
Transparency and credibility go hand in hand. Coupling transparency with regulatory compliance and maintaining strict standards can help companies maintain a competitive advantage.
When discussing Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBCs), the importance of food-grade certification cannot be overstated; ensuring the safety of food packaging products during manufacturing involves a complex web of practices, certifications, and careful consideration throughout the production and distribution processes.
In this article, we’ll examine the nuances of food-grade certification within the industry, discuss essential practices, and the critical aspect of certification scope.
Understanding the FDA’s Role in Safe Food Packaging
Clarifying the distinction between FDA-approved materials and the actual packaging is crucial. While the FDA designates certain materials as compliant for safe food contact, the FDA does not approve packaging or manufacturing facilities. This sets the stage for understanding the complexities involved in certifying FIBC manufacturing facilities for food-grade applications.
In industry terms, “FDA Approved” does not directly apply to the product line; however, the FDA does weigh in on certain raw materials and their impact on safe food contact. Halsted’s product line, for example, uses polypropylene resin as the base raw material. In its one-hundred percent virgin form, this material meets the FDA’s requirements for safe food contact; for additional information, see Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 177.1520.
Understanding the Scope of Certifications in FIBC Manufacturing
While the FDA does not certify FIBC manufacturing facilities or products, several third-party auditing bodies do just that. As a distributor, understanding the importance of specific certifications is paramount in selecting who to partner with. Third-party audits play a crucial role in validating the manufacturing process.
The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), a non-profit governing body of some of the world’s largest food companies, recognizes audit schemes such as the BRC Global Standard, SQF, and FSSC 22,000. These certifications signify compliance with international food safety standards, instilling confidence in the quality of FIBCs.
Manufacturers should provide buyers with a scope of the certifications they possess. When manufacturing food-grade FIBCs, there are a multitude of steps; in some cases, manufacturers only have a certification for a specific portion of the process. Depending on the end-user’s final needs, the scope of accreditation could be critically important to the ultimate quality of the bag. For example, suppose a manufacturer only possesses a certification for the sewing portion of the manufacturing process. In that case, this likely means that other parts of the production process (i.e., extrusion of yarns and weaving of fabric) are happening in a non-food grade facility.
Building a Framework for Food Grade Compliance
To maintain food-grade compliance, facilities often institute quality assurance processes. Let’s take a look at a few standard practices commonly found in a true food-grade certification process for FIBCs:
- Facilities are equipped with an air-conditioned hall, including employee cleanliness and health screenings before entry
- Employees are often employed on an hourly wage basis versus an output basis (i.e., quality over quantity)
- All loose threads on bags are heat-fused
- Metal detection screenings are performed on all bags
- All bags undergo a light table inspection
- All bags are vacuum-cleaned (air-washed)
- All final product packing is handled within a clean room facility
These steps contribute to ensuring the final product’s integrity and creating a robust framework for quality control, leading to successful third-party audits. Additionally, companies can reference FIBCA’s Food Safety Guide.
Empowering Distributors: Navigating the Landscape of FIBC Food-Grade Certification with Halsted’s Commitment to Quality
Decoding food-grade certification in the FIBC industry is a journey through standards, practices, and certifications. Distributors must be vigilant, seeking manufacturers with a comprehensive approach to food-grade processes.
At Halsted, we aim to provide our distributors with the necessary information to navigate the complexities of FIBC food-grade certification while ensuring the highest quality standards in producing our own food-grade packaging.
Contact Halsted, your trusted partner in end-to-end packaging solutions.