In terms of safety two product categories are the subject of particular attention from consumers and public authorities: food products and pharmaceuticals. And while having already significantly contributed to reduce risk factors in the past, when it comes to implementing new regulations for these product categories, packaging is once again at the forefront.
Doing more to prevent food contamination
As Richard Mallett underlines in his opinion column, regulations worldwide are adopting the policy of zero tolerance towards food contamination. Here, prevention and control are keywords in tracking risk from raw materials to POS equipment. As far as processes and packaging are concerned, efforts are focused on:
– an even more hygienic design for machines in order to further lower the risk of contamination and simplify cleaning operations,
– the implementation of new decontamination processes for packagings, just as effective against bacteria but entailing less risk of chemical contamination,
– 100% inspection of packagings leaving the manufacturing line, in order to detect any defect that could impact their protective function against external contamination.
Tracing and identifying in order to eradicate counterfeiting
The counterfeiting of pharmaceuticals is a worldwide scourge, that is no longer to be found only in parallel distribution networks. As it is creeping into official networks, public authorities have decided to do everything possible so that professionals and consumers can identify with absolute certainty the origin of their medicines. Packagings take account of these new requirements and integrate complex identification systems as well as Datamatrix codes that can store a large amount of information. This way, every single box will soon be traced from the laboratory’s doors to the patient’s hand.
For more information on this topic, see the opinion column of Eric Drapé.
Closing devices : from child safety barrier to intrusion alarm
Developing closing devices that can resist the vivid imagination of children and still be opened by the elderly, deliver the right amount of active ingredient or avoid confusion between drugs remains a major area of research for manufacturers in order to reduce the number of home accidents. But closing devices are also set to play a major role in shelves, where they can protect both consumers and brands against malevolent intrusion. To this end, tamper evidences become more sophisticated and adapt to any kind of packagings, to be used on a broader scale.
Only a few years ago, considering how it could bring more safety to the act of consuming, one would have thought that packaging would soon reach its limits. This was without reckoning on interactivity which, by galvanising consumer into action, might knock down the last barrier to total safety: the human factor.