Regulatory Challenges in Packaging: Meeting the Needs of Food and Beverage Manufacturers

Posted on 
December 16, 2020
Matthew Wright
Founder & CEO, Specright

The food and beverage industry is heavily scrutinized by the FDA, not just in terms of the ingredients you use but also in the way your products are packaged. Because packaging comes in direct contact with the product, food and beverage manufacturers have to follow strict requirements to ensure quality and safety for consumers. Packaging also serves as a marketing opportunity. One report notes that seven in ten consumers agree that packaging materials and appearance can encourage purchases, create brand recognition, and stand out on the supermarket shelves. Finding the intersection between attractive and compliant, however, is often a challenge.Manufacturers first and foremost must design packaging that meets regulatory requirements. Some of the key challenges to overcome include the following:

Including Ingredient and Allergy Information

When designing packaging, companies must take into account the size of the package to ensure it is properly labeled. Among some of the core details that must be included on the label are:

  • The product’s name
  • Net weight
  • Country of origin
  • Ingredients
  • Nutritional facts
  • Ingredients list
  • Name and address of the manufacturer
  • Allergens

When any of the above information is left out of the label, companies could face costly recalls and damage to their brand reputation.

Packaging and Food Contact

Any packaging that comes in direct contact with the product is also subject to regulatory requirements. In general, these requirements prohibit the use of any material that may alter the taste, smell, or composition of the food, or otherwise compromise the safety of the product. In some cases, packaging that contains components that may impact the characteristics of the food must be labeled as a food additive. This is the result of the Food Additives Amendment to the Federal Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act (FFDCA), where it was noticed that some materials that came into contact with food could migrate into the product.

Because there are exceptions to this regulation, which you can learn more about here, it’s important for food and beverage manufacturers to understand which materials must be classified as food additives and how materials impact the quality, taste, and safety of the product.  

International Standards for Food Packaging

As the food industry becomes more globalized, manufacturers face no shortage of challenges when it comes to adhering to country-specific standards. People are increasingly interested in trying different foods from around the world, forcing companies to rethink their packaging to accommodate other markets. This presents even more layers of complexity, as packaging must be able to withstand longer international shipping times while sealing in the product's freshness. It also means designing the packaging in a way that attracts global consumers, which may require different shapes, sizes, colors and languages than what’s used domestically.

How Specright Helps With Food Packaging Challenges

Packaging specification management brings clarity to your data by offering data and insight at the spec level. As regulations evolve, changes can be made in the Specright platform and updates are made to requirements in real-time so that your packaging is always compliant and up to date. Download our ebook to learn more about how packaging specification management prevents regulatory details from falling through the cracks in the food and beverage industry.

food and beverage

Matthew Wright

Matthew Wright is the founder & CEO of Specright, the first cloud-based platform for Specification Management. Specright has been recognized by Fast Company’s prestigious Most Innovative Companies list, named a Gartner Cool Vendor, and as one of the Top Places to Work by the OC Register and Built in LA. Wright is also a published author and his book, “The Evolution of Products and Packaging,”was named to the Amazon Hot New Release List for Industrial Relations Business and has a five star rating. 

Prior to founding Specright, Wright spent more than 25 years in the packaging industry, holding leadership positions at International Paper, Temple Inland, and rightPAQ — a packaging company he co-founded. He has also been involved in leading multiple M&A deals in the packaging industry, currently sits on the MSU School of Packaging and Industry Advisory Board and previously served on the Packaging Advisory Board at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo.

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