Packaging Blog: Packaging Industry News

Packaging news, ideas, rants and raves, and inside deals. Whether you are an insider in the packaging industry, concerned about the environmental or economic impact of packaging, or interested in one of the largest industries worldwide the Packaging Blog is for you!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Is my prescription for maggots and leeches ready?

Even though maggots and leeches have been used for hundreds of years for medical purposes, the Food and Drug Administration finally classified them as biotherapy medical devices which would require a prescription.

Doctors now have FDA approval to use maggots which are the larvae of green blow flies, to trim dead flesh with more precision than scalpels. Disinfected maggots which are white as snow and wiggling are applied to wounds as a last resort in some cases. Apparently there is little or no discomfort while the maggots eat decayed flesh and a treatment normally takes from 1 to 2 days.

Since the maggots only eat decayed flesh and do not touch the live tissue, to cure rate is high with relatively no pain, no need to go to operating room, and no bleeding, typically.

In addition to ulcers, maggots have been used to treat to skin ulcers, bedsores and to aid burn victims. Some of the burn victims from the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon benefited from this biotherapy.

According to Gilbert Waldbauer, a professor emeritus of entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, prior to the FDA endorsement of disinfected maggots as medical devices, doctors would get their maggots from local insect specialists for their supplies.

Dr. Ron Sherman's maggot therapy laboratory at the University of California Irvine, ships maggots grown under sterile conditions to US and Canadian doctors and he sent enough medical-grade maggots for about 2,000 treatments.

Leeches which are usually imported from France have been used by doctors for centuries to control bleeding especially after reattachments of severed fingers and toes.

A panel suggested that the FDA needs to include instructions on how to humanely kill leeches before disposal because medicinal leeches become engorged with potentially tainted human blood, they must be disposed of as biohazardous waste.

It will be interested to see the response from PETA.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Contaminated Pepsi

Pepsi Cola is in serious trouble now that testing in nearly a half a dozen bottling and packaging plants revealed alarming results of excessive E-Coli bacteria that is in health threatening levels.

The Rajasthan government announced the bad news for Pepsi in a statement by state Medical and Health Minister Digamber Singh who stated that stern action would be taken against bottling plants who failed the government testing for the presence of E-Coli bacteria.

According to the minister, 2004 Standards dictate that an E-Coli count should not exceed 50 per parts per million (ppm) but a number of the Pepsi plants plants were violating these norms with counts as high as 110 ppm according to the minister.

indian pepsi bottle

Now that Pepsi has joined Coca Cola in being on the bad side of the Indian government one has to wonder how much this is going to effect soft drink sales in India.

The companies on whose products the tests were conducted are: Varun Beverages Ltd and Sahil bottling Company, Alwar; Ronak Soft Drinks, Chittorgarh; Balaji Bottling, Kota; Ambika Bottling Plant, Abu Road and Balaji Bottling, Ajmer.

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Coca Cola in India ordered to shut down its bottling plant

Coca Cola was ordered by the pollution control authority of the south Indian state of Kerala to shut down its bottling plant in Plachimada of Palakkad District.

According to the Kerala Pollution Control Board Chairman G Rajmohan that waste from Plachimada Coca Cola's plant is contaminating the drinking water of the adjacent villages, and that the Coke bottling plant’s waste treatment system is inadequate.

G Rajmohan explained that the Pollution Control Board found cadmium content in the sludge generated by the Coke bottling plant was above permissible limits.

Spokesperson from Coca Cola said that the company is evaluating the steps to be taken in the future, including judicial measures.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Packaging unchanged for Mars and Snickers

Even though more than 3 million bars were recalled and destroyed in New South Wales afterMasterfoods received a series of threatening letters seven weeks ago, the candy bars return to the shelves today in the original packaging.

There was considerable speculation by packaging insiders (see packaging blog article Packaging rethink for Mars and Snickers) that Masterfoods who lost at least $10 million in the cost of recalling potentially tampered with chocolate bars would change their packaging to a more tamper proof package, but according to the president of Masterfoods, Andy Weston-Webb "We've looked at tamper-proofing packaging and if we could we'd consider it, But there really is no tamper-proof packaging that is available in the marketplace. We'll always look at opportunities to improve the security of packaging."

Masterfoods says for confidentiality reasons it cannot say whether the cost of a recall of the bars will be covered by insurance.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Rigid packaging prices expected to climb

According to the S&P depending on their contracts, processors can expect the higher raw material costs for ridged packaging to be to be passed on soon.

Those companies using rigid plastic containers, metal and glass for their products will the ones most affected by this increase in packaging prices. It is predicted that cosmetics and toiletry producers can expect the higher costs to be passed on sooner than other industries.

According to a Standard & Poor's report released this week, a significant number of manufacturers have responded to recent price hikes by managing their packaging inventories more efficiently and by shopping for their packaging more earnestly and purchasing lower priced packaging.

According to Liley Mehta a credit analyst for Standard & Poor's stated that ongoing raw-material price pressures, mainly due to significant hikes for plastic resin, and limited year-over-year volume growth are the key issues facing the packaging industry.

She went on to say "End customers are also managing their inventory balances in anticipation of raw-material price movements, and smaller order patterns have affected volume growth for plastic packaging suppliers".

Because of increased oil and natural gas prices and efforts by the petrochemical companies to push through further hikes are going to offset the slight decrease in prices we have seen the past few months in some plastic resins such as polypropylene and polyethylene. Now it appears that resin prices will increase for the remainder of the year adding further pressure to flexible plastic packaging companies.

Since most companies that produce ridged packaging generally have contractual agreements allowing for price adjustments due to raw material increases, they will be able to pass down their increased costs to their customers.

Also hit by increased raw material cost is the glass packaging sector in the US due to higher natural gas prices and increased soda ash prices, though most glass packaging producers are expected to gradually recoup higher energy costs through the price adjustment allowances within their contacts with their customers.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Food Packaging Labels are critical to sales

According to a new study by ACNielsen a packages label is a crucial factor in a consumer decision to purchase a product.

The Online Consumer Opinion Survey which was conducted by ACNielsen who asked 21,100 consumers from North America, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and South Africa about tier level of understanding food package labeling, when they would even check the labels on food packaging and what they actually were checking as they were shopping.

The president of ACNielsen Asia Pacific Bienvenido C. Niles Jr commented "For manufacturers of packaged goods, the product's nutritional proposition - whether it appeals to the specific selection criteria of the consumer - and the clarity of the information on the nutrition panel are critical at the point of product trial," and went on to say "Whether the product 'contents' meet the consumers' selection criteria, and how easily the label is understood, can determine whether or not the consumer proceeds to purchase the product, or return it to the shelf."

What I found interesting about this study on packaging labels and how they affect a consumers purchasing response is how local customs and culture have such a strong influence as to whether a consumer will or will not check the labels of food packages as well as how versed they are with what is contained on the packaging labels.

A glaring example of how local customs and habits can influence a consumers interaction with labels on food packaging is that In Japan, for example, consumers place such a high level of trust in well-known manufacturers, and given the strict legal restrictions in Japan which causes consumers to believe that the only products being sold are of the highest quality thus 24 percent of consumers in Japan never even check food labels. Compare this to Thailand where 41 percent and India where 32 percent of consumers claim to always check labels on food packaging.

The study found that North Americans had the best understanding of food labels and nutritional information and awareness of food related health issues such as the consumption of trans fats, but surprisingly still had a significant percentage of consumers who did not check what they eat.

According to Alice Fawver, senior vice president, retail measurement services, ACNielsen US Marketing "Food labels represent an important opportunity for consumer packaged goods manufacturers to differentiate their products and build consumer trust, but the opportunities are lost if labels aren't being read," and that "It is critical for manufacturers to make their labeling as relevant and clear to their consumers as they can, given consumers are making purchase choices based on the information on the packaging. If they can't understand the label, they may not risk the purchase."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Organic Packaging under review again

The US federal government is now writing new regulations concerning organic food packaging labeling as a result of legal challenges by an organic blueberry farmer from Maine.

Obviously the new rules are detrimental to consumers as products must be 95 percent organic in order to be qualify for the US Department of Agriculture's organic seal for packaging, but presently products with 70 percent organic ingredients are allowed to advertise on their packaging and elsewhere that they have been "made with organic ingredients".

Organic labeling soon to change

It seems quite obvious that organic manufacturers said they might switch to the "made with" organic ingredients label that could result in less organic ingredients used which does not help the consumer by keeping healthier products in the food stream or encourage organic and more environmental sound farming methods.

In my humble opinion in order to be labeled as organic, food should be 100% organic. If I order a slice of toast, I want 100% toast, not 95% toast and 5% shoe leather. I would also refuse to eat toast that is made from 70% bread and 30% non bread ingredients.

Even though Arthur Harvey's 2002 suit with the alleged that the organic food regulations were far more lax than the original legislation intended failed, Harvey won several points on appeal including limiting the use of non-organic agricultural products in food tabled "organic." (see packaging blog article:Organic Seal results in USDA Law Suit).

Now the National Organic Standards Board, which advises the US Agriculture Department, will be meeting to discuss the ramifications of Harveys' lawsuit.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

AUSPAK:Packaging Trade Show

The AUSPAK is Australia's only trade show that is an international exhibition of packaging and processing machinery, materials and associated technology which has been steadily increasing ion popularity with packaging professionals from around the world.

AUSPAK 2005 will be held in Sydney from October 11 th to the 14 th at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park. This even is only held once every 2 years and is alternated between Sidney and Melbourne Australia. Expect to see the latest packaging machinery, packaging products, and technology with more than 900 brands on display from over 200 exhibitors. Catagory of buyers attending this packaging show include food, beverages, chemicals, household products, confectionary, printing, packaging, pharmaceuticals & cosmetics and plastics.

packaging show in Sydney Austraila

The last AUSPAK show saw a 19.5% increase in attendance when compared to the previous AUSPAK show and if they keep it up this will become a world class packaging show.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

US Glass Packaging Company in trouble

In a move expected by many one of the last US manufacturers of glass packaging Anchor Glass Container files for Chapter 11 and effective immediately Anchor Glass named Chief Financial Officer Mark Burgess who joined the company in May as chief executive

Anchor Glass Container Corp stated that will continue paying employee salaries and to continue employee benefits without disruption and stated that its senior secured credit facility lenders have agreed to convert their loan facility into a debtor-in-possession facility so that the company may continue to operate.

Is the latest move by Tampa Florida based Anchor Glass Container Corp. (agcc) who voluntarily filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 the beginning of the end of US manufacturers of glass used in packaging?

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 05, 2005

Safety Alert on Oral Drops with packaged Syringe

Again confusing packaging for children's medication causes the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to announce that the Perrigo Company has initiated a voluntary nationwide recall of all lots of concentrated infants' oral drops.

The medication effected by the recall is packaged with a dosing syringe bearing only a "1.6 mL" mark which may be confusing in determining the proper dose for infants less than 2 years of age as directed by a doctor and could lead to improper dosing, including overdosing.

A physician who noticed the potential confusion that the packaged dosing syringe could cause filed a complaint with the American Academy of Pediatrics. The packaging and labeling allows safe dosing for 2-3 year olds weighing 24-35 lbs,

Even though the packaging for 2-3 year olds is safe, these products are also intended for use by children younger than 2 years and weighing less than 24 pounds and the labeling directs consumers to consult with their doctor for correct dosing directions for smaller infants.

The oral dosing syringe packaged with these products is not marked so as to accurately measure doses less than 1.6 mL. The prior packaging that enclosed a dropper, not the oral dosing syringe, was marked with two markings on it ("0.4 mL" and "0.8 mL"). The new package as a syringe with a single mark on has caused confusion among consumers and health-care professionals and may lead to improper dosing which may cause liver damage.

The medication contains acetaminophen; acetaminophen, dextromethorphan HBr, and pseudoephedrine HCl; or dextromethorphan HBr, and pseudoephedrine HCl and on retail level effects the following medications:

  • Cherry Flavor Infant Pain Reliever 160 mg Acetaminophen (0.5 oz. and 1.0 oz)
  • Grape Flavor Infant Pain Reliever 160 mg Acetaminophen (0.5 oz. and 1.0 oz)
  • Cherry Flavor Cough and Cold Infant Drops (0.5 oz)
  • Cherry Flavor Decongestant and Cough Infant Drops (0.5 oz)
The products were sold nationally under the following store-brand labels: American Fare, Best Choice, Brooks, Berkley & Jensen, CVS, Dollar General, Eckerd, Equaline, Equate, Family Dollar, Food Lion, Good Neighbor, GoodSense, Healthy Generations, Health Pride,Hy-Vee, Kroger, Leader, Longs, Major, Medicine Shoppe, Meijer, Parklane, Publix, Rite Aid, Safeway, Shop Rite, Sunmark, Target, Today's Health, Top Care, Walgreens, Western Family, and Winn Dixie.

A packaging professional not understanding how a customer uses his product and paying attention to small details caused this immense problem that endangered the health of small children and will cost the company untold millions to recall the existing packaging. I am glad it was not me.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Packaging Professionals Need to be Cloned!

This years HBA Expo in New York is scheduled to run at the same time the PACK Expo will be running in Las Vegas.

Exhibiting in a trade show is a ton of work and a huge commitment of time and money if you want to do it right so why in the world would trade shows in the packaging industry shows book conflicting dates? Even just walking a trade show and getting the most bang for the buck requires time effort and follow up.

packaging shows: HBA Expo and PACK Expo

The PACK Expo going on from September 26th to the 28th in Las Vegas boasts that it is “the largest and most comprehensive packaging show in the Western Hemisphere, and the only place you need to go to find the latest cutting-edge packaging and processing solutions.” and claims to have more than 1,200 packaging and processing exhibitors in 500,000 square feet.

PACK Expo Exhibit Hours:

  • September 26th, to 28th 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

The HBA Expo running from September 27th to the 29th in New York has been a huge show for the health and beauty industry for 12 consecutive years will have 575 exhibitors from 65 countries in 289,000 square feet and claims it is expecting 16,601 attendees.

HBA Expo Exhibit Hours:

  • September 27 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

  • September 28 10:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

  • September 29 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

So what is a small to mid size company do when conflicting shows which both have value to the many of the same packaging professionals do? Both shows have exceptional opportunities for packaging professionals and great conferences and lectures by the who’s who of packaging and manufacturing and processing. The choice is tough and time won’t permit me from visiting both so I am going to the HBA Expo and will have to hear second hand what the PACK Expo was all about.

If you haven’t booked either of the shows the time to do it is now as my preferred hotels in New York were running out of show rate rooms last week.

Too bad cloning is not an option!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Packaging company CCL's Q2 profits up

Toronto-based CCL Industries Inc reported a huge increase in net profits for the second quarter as the packaging company booked a big gain from the sale of its North American custom manufacturing business for $273-million which was completed May 17th.

Quarterly sales rose 20.7 per cent to $280.1 million from $232 million for Toronto-based CCL Industries Inc who manufactures specialty aluminum containers, plastic tubes and closures and product labels producers of cosmetics, deodorants, cleaning products and other consumer brands.

CCL Industries Inc earned $113.8 million or $3.53 a Class B share for the quarter that ended June 30 2005 compared to a profit of $11.9 million or 37 cents a share for the same 2004 period.

Chief executive Donald Lang said in a release: "We are very pleased with the performance of our specialty packaging business across all divisions".

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Biodegradable Packaging certified in 3 continents

Grenidea Technologies AgroResin packaging is made from the by-products of the palm oil industry or agricultural fibers, such as wheat straw which are common by-products of annual crops has received US certification for its food packaging, allowing multinational companies to use its biodegradable product in North America and Europe.

The Singapore-based company's AgroResin product is already being used in the Asian market and is wood free, pulp free, emission free, and chemical free and has already received certification within the EU as biodegradable packaging for food. According to Grenidea Technologies "If your company is a molded pulp manufacturer, you can use AgroResin material with your existing processes, there is no need to make new, significant investments in manufacturing."

Grenidea will introduce AgroResin into the US market at the beginning of 2006 and even though AgroResin packaging can be used in a wide range of food contact applications, from fresh produce, dried food and bakery products to frozen food, Grenidea Technologies says it plans to first target the fresh fruits and vegetable packaging segment of the market.

To be certified as biodegradable packaging in the EU, the packaging must be capable of undergoing physical, chemical, thermal or biological decomposition such that it ultimately decomposes into carbon dioxide, biomass and water. The demand for environmentally-friendly biodegradable packaging is a huge growth area, which is now driven by legislation, such as the EU's directive on packaging and packaging waste, which requires companies and retailers to cut down on the waste produced by their food products.

A new program which is made up of the leading UK retailers, is being launched under the Waste & Resources Action Program (Wrap) which will cause greater pressure on food processors to ship their products in environmentally-friendly materials.

Monday, August 01, 2005

DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers raises Resin Prices

DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers decision to raise resin prices by 7 cents ($0.07) per pound for all grades of DuPont(TM) Elvax(R), Elvaloy(R) AC and Nucrel(R) specialty resins is in response to strong demand and high energy costs.

This DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers resin cost increase will take effect in all regions effective Sept. 1, 2005, or as customer contracts allow.

According to B. C. Chong, vice president DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers, "Price adjustments are needed in response to changing market conditions including sustained, record- high raw material and transportation costs.

DuPont is a company founded in 1802 and the DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers, business is part of DuPont's Performance Materials platform, which had 2004 sales in excess of $6.6 billon.

UK issues recalls of contaminated food

Ingredient contamination cause of latest round of food recalls as the UK's Food Standard Agency (FSA) announced the withdrawal of three food products last week due to the presence of Sudan I, undeclared irradiation and contamination.

The ongoing discovery of Sudan Red, which is an industrial dye normally used to color shoe polish, plastics, oil and other synthetic products but was banned after it was discovered to be a potential carcinogen, has shaken up the British food market, with over 600 well-known processed foods pulled from UK shelves in February 2005 alone. Batches of Rajah Premium Hot Curry Powder and Rajah Premium Mild Curry Powder that were sold at the following supermarkets: Somerfields, Budgens and Kwik Save have been withdrawn from sale because of traces of the illegal dye Sudan I that were discovered in the curry powder.

The affected products, sold by BE International Foods in 100g tins and 425g tins, have a best before date of up to and including June 2008. The affected products also come in a 400g packet with a best before date of June 2007. Products with later best before dates are not affected.

In order to avoid such problems Brussels now requires that imports of chili and chili products including curry powder must be certified they are free of the illegal chemical dyes.

UK Supermarket

If that wasn't enough to upset shoppers and merchants in the UK, Nong Shim noodle based snacks have been withdrawn due to the undeclared presence of irradiated ingredients and the FSA has now identified further companies: Korea Foods Company, J K Foods, Rose Kibong, Green Farm, S W Trading, Songs Supermarket and Jo Enterprise that have imported the implicated Nong Shim Brand products.

Irradiation which is used to prolong the shelf life of food products and/or to reduce health hazards is an accepted manufacturing process in the USA and approved for use since 1963, the European consumer remains skeptical of the food safety aspect.

Last but not least two complaints of a glass-like substance being found in sunflower seed products from Nature's Harvest by Holland and Barrett has been forced to withdraw specific batches of the seeds. Holland and Barrett has started the recall by withdrawing all of the affected items and point-of-sale notices in all stores.