January 11, 2019 Feature

The Regulation of Food Packaging

By George G. Misko

Editor’s Comment

The technical and regulatory aspects of the food packaging industry may be the least understood area of the global food industry. Food and beverage packaging is estimated to be a $275–300 billion industry worldwide,1,2 and the U.S. sector is estimated at approximately $50 billion annually3 (rigid and flexible plastic polymers, 37%; paper, 34%; cans, 18%; glass 11%). Even credentialed food scientists are often challenged by packaging being a distinctly separate scientific field (materials science and engineering) demanding from them a differing educational and technical background. Packaging in contact with human and animal food (termed “food contact materials”) is regulated by all developed countries since “migration” into foods of potentially harmful substances can and does occur. Additionally, sustainability and the move to the “circular economy” present new and major challenges to supply chains in the food packaging industry.

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