Food safety is a topic which is playing an increasing role in the packaging industry. The warnings accumulate: bacteria in sesame, plastics in frozen herbs, metal in children’s breakfast, mineral oil in pasta, rice or cereals. Consumers are becoming more and more insecure.
Brand owners, packaging producers and packers are involved in dealing intensively with food safety and the reduction of sources of danger. Since every recall action costs brand owners money. It can also be accompanied with long-term image loss for a product or strong sales losses for company as a whole.
This is why the food industry deals with this topic more intensively. But one topic has been excluded from the public discussion: which risks does the packaging production process hold and how can they be avoided?
Digression: How does mineral oil get into food?
There are many ways in which mineral oil can get into food. The media mostly shows that way to be through printing color or recycled board.
But substances can also migrate from cutting-dies: materials that come in contact with the die-cut paperboard can contain mineral oil or other questionable substances that transfer to the paperboard. Marbach has found a solution to avoid this with its newest tooling package.
During the die-cutting process the paperboard comes in contact with the die-cutting machine, the cutting-die as well as the stripping and blanking tools. Or more precisely with the materials that are used for the production of those tools: the die-board, the cutting rules, creasing rules, rubbering and so on. The paperboard is die-cut, stripped and the blanks are separated. There are three significant aspects concerning food safety:
1. The tools used mustn’t lose any tool parts during the production process. Because this increases the risk that such a part could end up in the packaging.
2. Every single blank touches several parts of the tool package during the production process. If hygienically questionable materials are used in a tool, contamination of the packaging and therefore of the food can occur. This includes, for instance, mineral oil.
3. Cutting-dies are not produced under clean-room conditions. Especially for direct packaging, the topic hygiene plays a very important role. Imagine a sick employee who contaminates the cutting-die with bacteria. This tool will later be in direct contact with the paperboard material and the food.
An unappetizing idea.
The Heilbronn-based die-cutting manufacturer Marbach has intensively dealt with the topic hygiene during the last three years. The outcome is a special hygiene tool package that is called ‘‘marbaclean’’ by the company.
The market demands safe packaging
Why had Marbach already started working on the topic hygiene in 2014? Jan Brunner, Head of Business Development at Marbach: ‘‘The consumers demand from our customers, the print shops, signed declarations concerning the health safety of food packaging. Our customers forward this to us. As a pioneer in innovation we believe it is our duty to deal with such topics. In this case the result is our tool package marbaclean.’’
Harmless material marbaclean is a tool package with harmless material. All tool parts that can come in touch with the paperboard are suitable for the food industry. That’s why when using a marbaclean tool questionable substances --- such as mineral oil --- migrating from a material component of the cutting-die to food packaging is excluded. The materials of the maraclean tool package are certified by the ISEGA (independent verifying and certifying institution).
Special cleaning and test procedure
But not only the usage of specially certified materials characterize the new Marbach tool package. There are additional cleaning procedures and audit standards in the production of marbaclean tools. Also the nicks, which are normally ground into the rule, are cut at marbaclean tools, in order to avoid grinding dust. Special coatings of the used materials also ensure hygiene as does appropriate operating equipment.
Safety mechanisms of the tooling package
Another important topic when looking at the new Marbach hygiene tool is that of loose materials. From the outset marbaclean tools are equipped with different safety mechanisms in order to eliminate the loss of tooling parts. For example these mechanisms include special assembly techniques, additional adhesion as well as longer rubber parts. The latter ensures that even if there should be a loss of any rubber part, this will be quickly noticed since the rubbering will attract attention because of its size. It will not therefore end up in the package. Moreover a rubber overview allows an examination of the completeness of the tool before and after the production process.
Disinfection of all tool parts
Besides the already mentioned criteria, the topic of contamination through bacteria also plays a significant role in the Marbach hygiene tool. Marbach has a procedure in place where all parts of the tooling package undergo special disinfection before delivery --- this in addition to the already mentioned activities. In this way bacteria and viruses are eliminated. This procedure is optionally available.
Not all parts of the marbaclean package always need to be used. Depending on the customer, also only one component of this comprehensive package can be chosen. But for high hygienic requirements, as in the case of direct packaging, Marbach recommends the complete package. Because only then can optimum food safety be ensured in the die-cutting process.
All components of the marbaclean tooling package are --- either with the extra option of disinfection or not --- packed in a foil and additionally in a wooden package. So damage or contamination in transit can almost always be excluded with proper transportation.
Minimal extra charge for maximum security
Bunner: ‘‘Of course a tooling package in marbaclean version is a bit more expensive than a conventional tool. But if we assume a quantity of 250,000 blanks, the additional cost for marbaclean is only 1 cent per packaging. Including the additional option of disinfection. When I see the trouble and especially the possible image loss of a company through large-scale recall, this is next to nothing.’’
Simple integration in the production process According to Marbach changes in the customers’ production is not necessary. marbaclean tools can be used in normal die-cutting machines. The company only needs to meet the general prerequisites for the production of food packaging.
With marbaclean, Marbach customers get a tooling package that optimally fulfils technical as well as hygienic demands.