Food safety or the lack of it has been deservedly getting a lot of press in India lately, primarily because of the controversy that erupted last year involving a major multinational FMCG firm and its very popular brand of instant noodles. It is an accepted fact that there is a severe lack of awareness, among both consumers and a large number of companies involved in the food business, about safety standards and regulations. In this backdrop, a half-day seminar conducted by Henkel Adhesive Technologies India and Siegwerk in Mumbai on 3 February 2016 titled ‘Role of Flexible Packaging in Food Safety,’ made a lot of sense. The Mumbai edition of the seminar took place after the Delhi one which was organized on 1 February. The Mumbai event was attended by representatives from FMCG companies such as Mondelez International, Mother Dairy, Kellogg’s and Parle, packaging companies such as Huhtamaki, Amcor and Constantia and other stakeholders in the flexible packaging industry such as ink and adhesive manufacturers.
Almost everyone in the audience as well as all the speakers agreed that opinion in India about food safety is changing, albeit gradually, for the better and a larger cooperative effort is needed by all stakeholders in the flexible packaging industry to address the changing mindset and to further increase awareness about this pressing issue. Henkel and Seigwerk used the event to impart knowledge on the best practices that the flexible packaging ecosystem needs to adopt in order to ensure food safety; thus, ensuring customer satisfaction. Speakers from different companies underscored the need for communication and use of food safe formulations across the supply chain in order to comply with regulations and ensure that the packaging of end products is food safe.
Before the seminar there was a roundtable meeting of representatives from Henkel and members of the media. Henkel was represented by Corbett Wallace, business director – packaging, Consumer Goods, and Construction Adhesives, India, Middle East and Africa (IMEA); Claudia Hölscher, regional manager – Product Safety and Regulatory Affairs – IMEA and Europe, Adhesive Technologies, Henkel KgaA; S Sunil Kumar, business director, Industrial Adhesives, Henkel India and Jayachandran Nair, business manager, Flexible Packaging Adhesives.
“Over the next five years the flexible packaging market in India is expected to witness a healthy double-digit growth rate, according to market research reports. With ever-changing consumer preferences, organized retail chain formats and changing dynamics of the population, there is significant growth being predicted in the Indian packaging industry, and the consequent upsurge in demand for modern packaging methods,” said Wallace.
During the seminar all relevant topics related to food safety and flexible packaging were discussed with speakers from across the spectrum of the packaging ecosystem. Sameer Mehendale – senior manager R&D material equipment interaction Asia Pacific, Mondelez International, talked about the challenges he faced during his career pertaining to food packaging and how he handled those issues. He also talked about various standards and regulations prevailing in other countries.
Claudia Hölscher spoke further on food safety and global regulations. “Food safety needs to be considered by all stakeholders of the value chain. All the components used to make the packaging material need to fulfil requirements of the relevant regulation (like for example FDA, EU framework). Moreover, we should have more communication amongst all stakeholders so that knowledge is shared and also ensures alignment. It will also be important to use the right tools for risk assessments and conduct regular product safety audits.”
Jörg-Peter Langhammer and Ralph Detsch from Siegwerk Group spoke about printing inks for food packaging and printing inks for convertors, respectively. Langhammer talked about various regulations existing in developed countries such as USA, Germany and Switzerland. Detsch informed the audience about formulations of safe inks used in flexible packaging.
In the end S Sunil Kumar offered a note of gratitude and summed up the evening. “The main objective of this seminar was to get all the stakeholders together to better understand the role played by each stakeholder within the value chain and how we can collaborate more, share knowledge and work together to drive the food safety agenda strongly, both as stakeholders and actual consumers.”
Packaging South Asia is the cooperating media partner for drupa 2016 which is scheduled to be held from 31 May to 10 June at Dusseldorf, Germany