Thanks to extensive measures taken to ensure their quality and hygiene, paper sacks offer optimum product protection for the packaging of powdered products like flour, starch, baking mixes or powdered milk.
In addition, manufacturers have guaranteed full traceability of their paper sacks to offer their customers in subsequent steps of the delivery chain total product safety. Dag Kretschmer, member of Gemeinschaft Papiersackindustrie e. V. (GemPSI), the German association of paper sack manufacturers, explains how this works and how consumers benefit.
"Paper sacks are recalled extremely infrequently", says Kretschmer. "The most common instance is during an audit. Here we demonstrate to the customer that we can guarantee full traceability." This traceability obligation is based on EU Regulation No. 178/2002, which lays down general principles and requirements of food law that is mandatory in all member states. These are specified for packaging in EU framework Council regulation 1935/2004, article 17. Accordingly, all packaging manufacturers whose activities are within the delivery chain of foodstuffs and animal feed must be able to provide information at all times regarding the origin of the packaging materials, when and on which machine it was produced and where it was delivered. Furthermore, traceability is one aspect of DIN ISO 9001, according to which all paper manufacturers in Germany are certified.
Safety for consumers
"First and foremost, traceability ensures consumer safety," Kretschmer explains. "Foodstuffs and animal feed must be packed using packaging materials of impeccable quality, so that health and wellbeing are not endangered by them." Paper sacks for flour, baking mixes, food additives and animal feed come in direct contact with their contents. Theoretically, this could mean contamination or the migration of foreign materials into the food. Sack kraft paper is made exclusively from fresh fibres and only solvent-free dyes and adhesives are used in paper sack production. The German paper sack industry maintains the highest safety possible, so that no residue from mineral oil or other dangerous substances come into contact with the food. "Even with this, we guarantee traceability so that we can, in the rare event of a customer inquiry, quickly identify any irregularities", Kretschmer says. "Labelling and detailed documentation of material consumption and goods flows are crucial."
By labelling the paper rolls during paper sack production, every single sack can later be unequivocally associated with a certain lot.
Raw materials delivered for the manufacture of paper sacks - whether it be paper, adhesive, barrier film or printing ink - are labelled by the suppliers with clear lot numbers. These numbers flow into the goods management system of the paper sack manufacturer. "So during paper sack production, a production protocol is made that specifies exactly which material from which lot is used for a certain production order", as Kretschmer describes the procedure. "Also the production is also labelled with lot numbers. These can be plainly visible on the paper sack or hidden somewhere like under a glue seam under the valve or under the stand-up pouch bottoms". If the customer has a technical problem with a sack, then the number will indicate when the sack was made, which material was used and which machine it was produced on. The paper sack manufacturer can then verify whether a one-time quality anomaly has occurred or whether other lots could be affected and must be recalled.
Advantage in smaller packaging sizes
Thanks to packaging sizes of a maximum total weight of 25 kilograms - instead of 1 ton big bags - and thus smaller product lots, paper sacks are easy to trace and defective products can be quickly found. For foodstuffs like powdered milk, which is processed into baby food or used in pharmaceutical products, printing serial numbers makes full traceability of each individual sack possible. "Thanks to extensive safety precautions during production and full recall management, consumers benefit at all times from the highest possible quality of paper sacks and safety of packaged foodstuffs."