The shopping cart has changed a lot in recent years. Globalization has allowed us, for example, to have access to vegetables and fruits – even tropical ones – even when out of season. This means that we depend less on seasonality but it also implies that products must travel hundreds or thousands of kilometres to reach their destination.

Throughout the journey, each food product is part of a complex distribution chain that requires the coordination of usually several distributors. Each agent must facilitate the traceability of the product so anyone can know the state of the product throughout the process.

In this sense, quality controls are especially relevant, as are the new technologies that, without opening the packages, allow us to know their status. This technology is also applied to other industries apart from food, such as pharmaceuticals or cosmetics.

Another RELEVANT ISSUE is that of food materials: we are referring to the container used for transport, its composition, origin, durability, treatment… What is the most appropriate in each case?

Types of materials approved for food packaging

The characteristics that any element that participates in some way in the food chain must meet are:

  • Be inert: it does not transfer its own substances to the product it wraps.
  • Be resistant: it does not break with ease, putting at risk the quality and healthiness of the food.
  • Adapted to packaging: each food product has certain requirements. A container of fresh milk will have nothing to do with one of water or soft drinks. In any case, each one of them will have to adjust to the corresponding regulation.
  • Materials allowed: food can only be packed in items previously catalogued for it. According to Annex I of Regulation 1935/2004, these are:
    • Homologated smart elements, designed for temperature, humidity, shockproof control, etc.
    • Chrome, tin or zinc coated metals. Their use is very common in preserves.
    • Ceramic, glass and similar jars that comply with the regulations governing their use for food purposes. On the other hand, the reuse of glass containers that have previously had other uses such as containing chemicals, disinfectants, etc. is not allowed.
    • Cardboard, paper and derivatives. We commonly see them in countless foods such as sugar sachets, pasta, rice, etc.
    • Plastics. Both newly manufactured and recycled plastics can be used in the food sector. In the second case, they will have to comply with Regulation 282/2008. The identification symbols will inform the user of their origin, as a sign that they are safe: PET, PETE, HDPE, LDPE and PP.
    • Fabrics, textile fibres and leather.

In turn, each container must include in the labelling the category to which it belongs. We must facilitate at all times that the consumer knows what the container is made of.

The packaging will also include the legend of how it should be used and what to do with it for recycling.

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