Packaging compliance a progressive step to ensure food safety in Bangladesh

Published : 09 Apr 2023 10:18 PM

Bangladesh needs to give more emphasis on safer food processing and safer ink for packaging largely to prevent the transfer of harmful chemicals from the ink used in packaging the food items.

It is widely known that the ink used in food packaging materials in Bangladesh largely contain harmful toluene, a chemical toxic for consumption and so experts strongly recommend using safer ink for printing on food packing materials used to store or preserve food items.

Packaging compliance plays a crucial role in ensuring safety of food products in Bangladesh. The use of safe packaging ink is a critical component of this process.

On the compliance issue Jörg-Peter Langhammer, Head of Global Product Safety and Responsibility at Siegwerk, spoke to Bangladesh Post recently and explained the the food safety standard issues.

Jörg-Peter Langhammer has emphasized the importance of safe packaging during his recent visit to Bangladesh. His message is particularly significant for Bangladesh, where the food safety standards are still developing and there are many challenges that need to be addressed.

To address this issue, it is essential for the government, the packaging industry, and the food industry to work together to establish regulations and standards for safe packaging. This will ensure that only ink formulations that comply with these standards are used in the production of food packaging.

Following are the excerpts of the interview taken by Bangladesh Post Correspondent Anwar Hossain. 

Bangladesh Post: What is Siegwerk’s core commitment about product safety?

Jörg-Peter Langhammer: Being one of the world’s leading packaging ink suppliers, Siegwerk’s prime focus is on the sensitive area of food packaging, which we term as nutrition, pharma and hygiene packaging. 

It is sensitive due to legal demands, consumer demands, brand owner demands and we are quite aware of the fact that what we owe to our customers. We have to be very careful as food stuff is one of the most important topics of nutrition, and we want it to be safely packed as we don’t want any negative influence from the inks to transfer to food, what we call transfer of the chemicals or what is simply termed as migration. And therefore, our ambition level is to have the safest inks in the world. 

Bangladesh Post: How does Siegwerk support customers in the manufacture of safe products?

Jörg-Peter Langhammer: For starters, we need to understand that Siegwerk is part of the supply chain. At the end of this supply chain is brand owners, the people who are bringing the product into the market. Therefore, the brand owners are the ones to carry all the final responsi

bility and ensure that everything that is being supplied by them to the market and consumers, is safe. Given our role and position in the supply chain, we provide our direct customers, which are the converters and printers with inks. 

Bangladesh Post: Why do you think Bangladesh has the scope of picking up global standards in context to safe food packaging?

Jörg-Peter Langhammer: There is a very good foundation here in Bangladesh. Just like the regulation on food safety by the public health authorities, which is already embedded. We call this the framework principles, which are setting the standards for safe packaging and also in respect of inks. 

And now we see this initiative of the Bangladesh Standards Institute imposing a new standard on inks for food packaging. This is very progressive because if you look on the worldwide scale, you wouldn’t find too many regions which have stipulated a specific regulation on inks for food packaging. It is a very bold move of the government, of BSTI to bring Bangladesh to the forefront of regions which will be ready for the global supply chain demands. 

Bangladesh Post: Do you think brand owners and converters should have an increased requirement on ink safety specifically for packaged food? If yes, please explain why. 

Jörg-Peter Langhammer: As I explained before, if I were a brand owner and I would be in charge of the legal responsibility of course, I want it to be safe. As a brand owner, if I am blamed, it is not my supply chain partner who is blamed, instead it is my brand which will be affected in any case of damage. So definitely I would like to prevent that from happening.  And the best way to prevent it is to set aside specifications to ensure safe supplies. 

This is paramount, and in that respect, awareness level should keep on rising with constant flow of information. So, if you have these specifications then its better as everybody knows what the restrictions are and the limitations. And also, for authorities, it is helping them in their compliance activities. So, standards and specifications in the supply chain are needed and need to be kept properly maintained. 

Bangladesh Post: Is it important that all parties involved in the packaging industry should collaborate in order to head toward transparency in food safety?

Jörg-Peter Langhammer: Absolutely. It's a must if we want to achieve full compliance and ensure consumer safety. Information exchange along the supply chain is essential, as it's not just about providing the best ink or packaging material, but also ensuring that it's properly converted and processed during printing. 

Neglecting to share such details can lead to problems, which has unfortunately been the case in Europe for decades, and has even caused food scandals. Therefore, collaboration and information sharing are crucial for maintaining food safety standards and preventing such issues.

Bangladesh Post: Food regulatory authorities in Bangladesh are commendably and progressively promoting food safety. Do you think there are any additional steps that needs to be taken? 

Jörg-Peter Langhammer: Firstly, I believe it's crucial for regulators to set the scene and clearly communicate their expectations to the market, which can have a positive effect even before the regulations come into force. The next step is to ensure the implementation of the standards and to monitor the market regularly. It's a living subject, so updates may be required from time to time. Once the regulations are in force, the authorities should monitor the market and conduct spot check testing and random sampling to ensure compliance. 

Bangladesh Post: Do you think Bangladesh as a growing economy is capable to progress in areas of packaging safety in line with the global trends of increased consumer safety?

Jörg-Peter Langhammer: Yes, I do believe that Bangladesh has the potential to improve its packaging safety in line with global standards. With a growing population and economy, there is a need to look beyond borders and become a global supply chain partner. Bangladesh has well-educated people and respected institutions, providing a solid foundation to apply knowledge and implement regulations. However, it is important for the government to provide adequate resources and staff to focus on food safety.