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The Inevitability of a Safety Check by Banishing the NIAS Risks

By Food and Beverages | Tuesday, July 09, 2019

There are no official or legislative protocols on how to perform assessments of NIAS from the authorities yet. Different working groups are engaged in relentless efforts to shed light on the subject and to standardize the basic protocols.

Fremont, CA: Packaging has become a pivotal component of the overall food safety process today. Now more than ever, with the globalization of the food distribution networks, it has gained greater importance as the safety of the final product became the prior concern of the manufactures. Most of them are very well aware of the aftermaths of faulty packaging on their businesses and how such malfunctioning packaging in the supply chain compromises the quality and integrity of their product, wherefore keen to adopt all possible measures to provide products that are safe and secure to the end-user.

This is where packaging comes into play, as its main intention is to protect the food from a safety and quality standpoint, while also serving as a method for transportation and marketing by being a safeguard option from leaking and spilling. It also serves the vital function to provide the customers and marketers with essential information regarding the final product. However, the packaging, that has been brought by articulating a vision of food safety, and for reducing, the chances of unanticipated foodborne risks itself carry many vulnerabilities.

The presence of Non-Intentionally Added Substances (NIAM), is one of the major challenges the food packaging or food contact articles and materials industry is facing at present. The NIAM are the chemical compounds that may be present in the Food Contact Materials but have been avoided during the manufacturing process due to some technical reasons. These substances comprised of impurities, reaction products, or degradation products that generate from the manufacturing or extraction process of the materials used in the manufacture of plastic materials or food-contact articles.

The term ‘NIAS’ was first used for plastic materials in Europe through Commission Regulation (EU) No 10/2011, which defined and established the manufacturer’s obligation to perform a risk assessment on these substances. This need to guarantee the harmlessness of all materials and other elements intended to come into contact with food is also described in Regulation (EC) No 1935/2004. This envisages that any material or article expected to come into contact with food must be manufactured by following good manufacturing practices so that, under normal or foreseeable conditions of use, they will not turn something that could endanger human health.

It is quite unfortunate that there is no silver bullet to this as the Identification of these substances remains a major analytical challenge in front of the packaging industry. The lack of methods to find the reasons for their formation and their negligible presence make things even complicated.

There are no official or legislative protocols on how to perform assessments of NIAS from the authorities yet. Different working groups are engaged in relentless efforts to shed light on the subject and standardize the protocols to be followed as much as possible by recognizing that the problem can only be tackled through such legislative and collective efforts.

Today’s consumers are given with numerous unconventional options that run the gamut from eco-friendly packaging to designs that assist in the entire food manufacturing process. So much consideration and science go into choosing the right container and packaging appurtenances for the manufacturers, and here comes the relevance of advanced scientific approaches to ensure harmless packaging of food and other products. The timely identification and mitigation of the innate risks associated with non-intentionally added substances, has become the inevitability of the era as it will prevent a future catastrophe that may devour the entire human race.

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