Food and beverage companies must address safety concerns

Recent statistics from the United States Small Business Association show nearly 90 per cent of businesses fail within two years of experiencing a disaster.

According to risk and insurance experts David Goodall and Peter McGee, companies in the food and beverage industry that have adopted a ‘do nothing’ strategy, only to find out when being assessed by manufacturers.

“With a turnover in excess of $111.2 billion annually, food and beverage is one of Australia’s most important industries and we have a global reputation for our quality and consistency, but how prepared are we to navigate the multitude and changing risks that participants in this industry face on a day to day basis?” Goodall said.

“But while salads wrapped in plastic, warm sushi riddled with salmonella, all make us gag,
that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s the ripple effect that can also create damage throughout the
entire supply chain. Our message is, no matter how large or small your business, know all your
risks, plan for them so you can rethink your insurance and ensure all bases are covered.”

The discovery of horsemeat in processed beef products sold by a number of UK
supermarket chains in 2013 resulted in a series of product recalls and threw a spotlight on
the food industries supply chain in UK and throughout Europe.

As much as 100% of beef products were found to contain horsemeat; other beef products
were found to contain pork. The scandal revealed a major breakdown in the traceability of
ingredients in the food supply chain and exposed additional potential risks.

When you consider the supply chain for Comigel, one of the food manufactures at the
centre of the scandal, it’s easy to see why the wheels fell off. Romanian abattoirs
supplying Dutch and Cypriot meat traders, who send product to various parts of France.
Since the story broke in January 2013, it has spread to 13 other European countries and
authorities are seeking an EU-wide solution.

This issue not only ha an impact on consumer confidence, there is a significant financial
fallout for the companies involved.

Track & Trace software

EyeTrace was developed to prevent forged products to enter the supply chain and guarantees their traceability. 

EyeTrace makes the inspection of security features on the packaging easier and it identifies every single package and offers a homogeneous control unit.

The new guideline defines two security features: one for checking authenticity and identification of every single package and one to inspect if the package has been opened already and for that a glue dot or perforation will be applied. 

With EyeTrace the visual inspection can be made easier, because an industrial camera and the EyeVision image processing software can detect more than the human eye. 

Especially as EyeVision can also read codes (bar code, QR, DMC,). This is important, because the „Unique Identifier“ for distinct identification is going to be a 2D bar code. 

With the code reader function, EyeTrace can read:

•    code 
•    serial number
•    a national number for the reimbursement of costs
•    charge number
•    expiration date

Besides the code reader function, EyeTrace can be extended with other commands of the EyeVision software.

Safety stainless steel air knives

Spray Nozzle Engineering supply a range of Silvent air knives that can be constructed to specifically meet any requirements.

Using an open pipe to supply compressed air can result in excessive noise levels and compressed air wastage. To combat this, Spray Nozzle Engineering supply a range of safety air nozzles which drastically reduce compressed air noise and usage.

Silvent flat nozzles and air knives are used in plants throughout the world to clean, dry, sort or cool processes during manufacture.  Silvent has a full range or stainless air knives for both food and industrial applications, as well as pre-made manifolds for ease of installation. This lowers the sound level, reduces energy consumption and increases the efficiency of the drying process.

The Silvent 374 nozzle creates a coned air stream of 335mm at a distance of 150mm with a wide striking surface – a clear advantage when wide objects must be dried, sorted or cleaned. With the blowing force at 38.0N with a length of 269mm, the Silvent 374 air knife is also capable of withstanding high ambient temperatures and corrosive chemical environments, as well as satisfying the hygienic requirements of the food processing industry.

Most often used in air knife applications, the Silvent 374 nozzle can reduce noise levels by up to approximately 80% and compressed air usage by up to 37%.

SprayNozzle Engineering is the exclusive supplier of Silvent’s safety air nozzles, safety air guns and safety silencers in Australia and New Zealand.

SAI Global appoints new food safety expert

SAI Global has announced the appointment of Dawn Welham as Global Technical Director and Thought Leader, continuing to expand its expertise in Retail, Food and Agribusiness industries.

With a wealth of experience across food product safety, public health, consumer protection and occupational health and safety, Dawn will use her expertise across 100 countries, with a focus in Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Europe, and continue growing the company's capabilities in product safety.

Businesses are focusing more on embedding product safety processes and culture as food provenance, safety and integrity become more important to consumers.

According to Dawn, SAI Global is taking a leading role in providing risk management solutions to Retail, Food and Agribusiness industries, to ensure product integrity and safety.

"True technical leadership is about putting systems in place to make sure customers get what they pay for. They pay for quality, legality and safety, and my new role will be focused on all aspects of this compliance for many large businesses around the world," Welham said

"An effective technical system is one which takes the complexity out of compliance, but also creates a competitive advantage for the business. This is paramount to the way SAI Global works and is the part that makes my new role very rewarding and exciting."

FSANZ detects ‘potentially concerning’ amounts of phthalates in food from packaging

Food Standards Australia New Zealand has found worrying levels of plastic softeners in samples of popular foods.

Fresh bread, takeaway hamburgers and meat pizzas are some of the foods in which chemicals may have migrated from packaging into food are a low risk to public health and safety.

Out of the six takeaway hamburgers tested for the phthalate DEHP, four contained between 67 and 180 per cent more than the amount permitted under European Union laws to be released from packaging into food, which is 1.5 milligrams a kilogram.

In samples tested for the phthalate DINP, Food Standards found a takeaway hamburger sample had 14mg a kilo and a pizza topped with meat and vegetables had 16mg a kilo –both exceeding “tolerable daily intake” levels.

According to Food Standards chief executive Steve McCutcheon, the Australian Total Diet Study into chemical migration from packaging into food detected very low residues of some chemicals in a small number of samples.

“After undertaking a very conservative safety assessment on these very low levels, FSANZ has concluded there are no safety concerns,” McCutcheon said.

“The screening study identified that further work was required for two of the chemicals tested for [phthalates] and FSANZ will be sampling a wider range of foods for these chemicals so a full dietary exposure assessment can be undertaken.”

Phthalates are plasticisers that can be found in PVC tubing, gaskets, cling wraps, printing inks, paper and cardboard packaging and laminated aluminium foil.

A University of Michigan study published in the medical journal JAMA Paediatrics found increased levels of some phthalates in urine during pregnancy correlated with higher odds of premature birth.

Catherine Itman, a research lecturer in physiology at the University of the Sunshine Coast, said Food Standards' results were "potentially concerning", considering the conclusions of various animal studies.

"However, we must recognise firstly that we are exposed to phthalates from many different sources, so it must be considered whether the phthalates present in some foods do substantially contribute to our overall phthalate exposure," Itman said.

"Secondly, we actually have very little direct information about the human health impacts of phthalates, as most toxicology studies have been performed using concentrations that do not reflect typical exposure levels and our knowledge of the effects of exposure to combinations of phthalates or phthalates plus other chemicals is wholly inadequate," Itman said.

"Until more is known, we should be cautious with regard to how much phthalate exposure we consider to be acceptable."

NZ government objects to Australia’s new country of origin food labels

New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries has said it is concerned about the cost for the nation’s food producers to comply with Australia’s new proposed country of origin labelling laws.

Announced in July 2015, the proposed laws will require food sold in Australia to include a labelling statement identifying where the food comes from.

Supporter of the labelling reforms, Australian Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce has however said that New Zealand has nothing to worry about.

The labelling changes are currently being considered by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with its members (which includes New Zealand) allowed to provide feedback on the possible changes up until 5th February 2016.

The general Australian public have until the 29th January 2016 to submit their opinions to the Country of Origin Labelling Taskforce.

New Zealand previously exempted itself from Standard 1.2.11 in the Australia-New Zealnd Food Standards Code that required mandatory labelling of country of origin information in Australia.

Other criticisms of labelling changes

Australia’s consumer advocacy group CHOICE and the horticulture growers representative body, AUSVEG are each amongst the organisations that welcomed the new labels with reservations when they were announced in July 2015.

At the time of the announcement, these groups said that consumers will not really know where ingredients come from, since it will only be optional to list the actual country of origin for many important ingredients that come from outside Australia.

Country of Origin Labelling changes overview

The amendments to Australian Country of Origin Labelling include the following:

  • The introduction of a new Information Standard, requiring businesses to provide clearer information about the origin of food;
  • Removal of the Food Standards Code country of origin standard (Standard 1.2.11);
  • Changes under the Australian Consumer Law to be better aligned with the new Information Standard; and
  • Changes to the Commerce Regulations country of origin marking provisions –similarly to better align with the new Information Standard and the revised Australian Consumer Law. 

Global public health organisation NSF International acquires New Zealand food safety company

Global food safety organisation NSF International has acquired the Burwater Pacific Group, a leading food safety training, auditing and consulting business based in New Zealand.

With hopes to expand food safety and quality services to a broader New Zealand and Australia food manufacturer and retail market, NSF International will work closely with the Burwater Pacific Group to provide its services for clients in New Zealand.

According to NSF International Senior Vice President, Tom Chestnut, the NSF Burwater team will utilise their 100 years of combined food safety experience to continue to lead food safety operations throughout New Zealand and Australia with assistance from technical experts around the globe.

“The addition of the Burwater Pacific Group to the NSF International Global Food Safety and Quality Division enables us to provide global auditing, certification, training and consulting services to the New Zealand and Australian food industry for our multinational retail customers and complements our current operations in the Asia-Pacific region, where we have offices in Korea, China, Thailand and India,” Chestnut said.

Regional Director for NSF International in New Zealand and Australia, Nigel Burrows, says that NSF welcomes the expertise, strong reputation and shared commitment to food safety that the Burwater Pacific Group brings to NSF International’s food safety and quality business.

“The opportunity to have access to the technical expertise of NSF’s Food Safety and Quality services will benefit New Zealand and Australian Food businesses on a local and global level. We are extremely excited to be part of NSF International as their global leadership in Food Safety and Quality will benefit our existing and new clients,” Burrows said.

As a result of the acquisition, multinational food businesses will have their food safety auditing, certification, training and consulting needs supported throughout New Zealand and Australia. 

Services offered via NSF Burwater include:

·        Technical Consulting – Services for new product launches including product development, label review and development, food control plans and HACCP development, micro and chemical sampling, internal auditing, training and product development.

·        Auditing services – Franchise compliance and operational standards review and audits as well as global standards and third-party regulatory audits including high risk food categories.

·        Training and development – Consultation, coaching and formal training in all areas from basic food handling to food safety program development and allergen management. 

Food & beverage cleaning nozzle

Built to last with a replaceable white EPDM rubber grip, the heavy-duty hose nozzles from Tecpro Australia are designed to take all the knocks and shocks of everyday food and beverage manufacturing. 

They easily handle up to 16 Bar of water pressure (232 PSI) and can accommodate hot water up to 80°C.  The EPDM rubber cover minimises heat transfer, which makes the nozzle more comfortable for members of the cleaning team to hold. 

The nozzle delivers a high flow, adjustable water pattern that ranges from a narrow jet to a conical spread with a simple twist of the nozzle head. Twist in the opposite direction and it shuts off securely without leaking.

The high quality, white EPDM rubber grip can be easily replaced once worn without the need to purchase an entire new nozzle.

First Australian grown frozen berries hit shelves

Australia now has 100 per cent locally grown frozen berries available on local shelves.

‘Matilda’s’ was launched by third generation strawberry farmers Matt and Ruth Gallace after dozens of people contracted Hepatitis A from eating contaminated frozen mixed berries, which were imported.

Until now commercial quantities of Australian frozen berries haven't been available.

Launched in-store on the 1st December, the berries are sourced from Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, which has been in the Gallace family for fifty years, and has 800 acres of land in Victoria and Queensland.

Raspberries and blueberries will be sourced from New South Wales and Tasmania.

The berries are all handpicked, washed and snap frozen in an entirely new purpose-built facility in the Yarra Valley.

Matilda’s co-founder Ruth Gallace says the fact that they’ve built the factory from the ground up, and the packing site is exclusively for fruit, means there’s no risk of cross contamination.

“In many cases nuts are processed on the same site used to process other foods, which causes great concern for parents who have children with allergies.  My daughter has anaphylaxis and I’m only too well aware of the need to ensure there is no chance of contamination.  The beauty of having our own site means it’s only used exclusively for fruit, so there is nothing else processed on site.”

Ruth said the origin of each product is completely transparent too and is labelled on each and every bag, so consumers know which region the berries came from.

“We’re really proud to be able to provide a product which really challenges the current food labelling system.  There needs to be far more transparency as to food origin, how it’s processed and packaged.”

Ruth says it’s now up to the consumer to show they want a wholly Australian product and to ask for it at their local retailer.

“Demand will now be driven by the consumer, and the people really do hold the power, if you ask for the product, your retailer will order it in.”

Matilda’s frozen strawberries hit quality independent supermarket shelves in Victoria on 1st December including Leo’s, IGA’s, FoodWorks’ and LaManna’s across the State.  They will be in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia in coming weeks.

Halogen Moisture Analyser

Mettler Toledo has launched its newest halogen moisture analyser, the HC103, which measures moisture content in minutes, enabling fast response times for quality control and in-process control. 

A large colour touchscreen, graphical user guidance and real-time drying curve make the HC103 easy to use, even for untrained operators. Whether you work in a busy laboratory or a harsh production environment, the compact design saves space and the robust construction guarantees a long instrument lifetime.

With touchscreen operation and an intuitive user interface, the HC103 is easy to use. Operators can access drying methods directly from the home screen with just 'One Click'. Just add the sample to the weighing pan, tare and press start. 

As the drying program is running, a real-time drying curve is displayed on the screen to provide an overview of the progress. Operators can clearly see if the measurement is on target and are able to intervene quickly in the production process where necessary.

There is no need to manually record the results as the HC103 can generate result reports in the form of PDF or CSV files in addition to standard printouts. These can be conveniently transferred via the RS232 or USB ports to fulfill documentation and traceability requirements. In addition, new drying methods are easily uploaded to the HC103 via the USB port. 

Mettler Toledo provides a collection of validated drying methods for over 100 different samples.

New escape release for the safety system ESL

The Euchner ESL is a compact door handle for monitoring and protecting safety guards such as doors and flaps on installations and machines.

It is equipped with the proven transponder coded safety technology CES to ensure maximum safety according to EN ISO 13849-1 (Cat.  4/PLE e) and provide the best protection against tampering.

It contains a handle and interlocking unit to allow a very quick and easy unlocking of the safety guard from the inside, even when the handle is locked.

The escape release engages when it is actuated which prevents renewed closing of the safety door. The detent knob must then be actuated to close the safety door and switch the safety outputs on again. This prevents unintentionally starting the machine or installation.

The escape release can be attached to all common profile sizes and can be easily fixed, using just two screws. No mechanical modifications need to be made for mounting and it can be retrofitted at any time. This provides the essential flexibility for protecting safety doors.

PLC delivers safety for food manufacturers

Food industries that require a high standard of functional safety to commission machines or installations can streamline safety functions and other tasks through a single PLC.

According to Ifm, its SmartPLC uses a sequential setup of functions and teach processes to simplify the process of commissioning machines or installations in a bid to improve safety. 

The food packaging industry, in particular, has aimed to combat issues of safety and efficiency and the food manufacturing industry as a whole is increasing measures to ensure the safety and quality of items in order to avoid consequences on consumers’ health.

If an issue occurs somewhere along the production line or during the packaging or warehousing stages, businesses can suffer production losses and reputational damage.
Standards Australia recently released parts relating to the Safety of Machinery series, in which an industry-wide need for technology and safety control systems was identified.

A breach in food safety regulations or standards similar to the Food Standards Australia & New Zealand Food Standard Code can result in harsh financial penalties and the producer may face both recalls and a tainted reputation.

The revised safety control systems adhere not only to increasingly stringent functional safety standards, but can also improve productivity and operational efficiencies.

To achieve this, the industry has implemented machinery, equipment and safety systems that can deliver on functionality and reliability to distribute products safe for human consumption.
Ifm’s SmartPLC is designed to achieve a high standard of functional safety by placing a growing focus on machines –improving productivity and making operations more efficient in the process.

Engineered to combat the safety and productivity issues facing the food industry, the SmartPLC simplifies the commissioning of machines or installations by simultaneously reducing the risk of tampering with systems and avoiding downtime and lost productivity.

Streamlining the process of solving safety-related applications while having the ability to perform many other tasks means the SmartPLC has plant-wide controls to promote safety within the food manufacturing industry.


Eliminate contamination with new cleaning head

Now available from Tecpro Australia, the Sanitor Tank Cleaner is designed to provide the highest possible standard of hygiene and sanitation.
Specifically designed to comply with the highest standards of sanitation and hygiene, the Sanitor is constructed completely from 100 per cent AISI 316 Stainless Steel. It features a streamlined external design to ensure no residue can build up and contaminate the wash. The Sanitor’s advanced design also eliminates the need for ball bearings. This greatly increases unit life while preventing the possibility of contamination associated with bearing degradation.

The Sanitor features a clever pressure regulation system, which ensures constant, slow rotation at pressures ranging from 2 to 20 Bar, with flow rates from 24 L/min. This low jet peripheral velocity is optimised to maintain high impingement and allow longer chemical dwell times for improved cleaning efficiency.
The Sanitor is ideal for burst rinsing or prolonged washing with the precision slots in the rotating barrel producing strong impact fan jets that scrub the vessel in a 360º wash pattern. The wide operating pressure band makes the unit suitable for a variety of small to medium-sized vessels, including food and beverage storage tanks, transport containers and chemical reactors.

Lightweight and extremely compact, the low wear design requires minimal maintenance.  It has a 3/8” BSP connection and requires a minimum manhole/flange opening of 32mm for unit insertion. At a pressure of 10 Bar, the Sanitor has a cleaning radius of 2.4m and wetting radius of 3.6m. It is suitable for working temperatures up to 95º C and ambient temperatures of up to 140º.
The highly flexible and durable Sanitor is the perfect tank cleaning solution for the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, chemical, coatings and transport industries, or wherever rigorous standards of hygiene and product purity are essential.


Sydney Fish Market launches free seafood quality app

Sydney Fish Market has launched the Australian Seafood Quality Index app, which provides seafood buyers and restaurateurs with a useful guide to seafood shelf-life at their fingertips.

The new app has been developed to help assess seafood from catch to consumer. Users complete a checklist on several attributes of the whole fish, including appearance, odour and texture. The scores for each category are combined to generate a Quality Index score, which provides an indication of the remaining shelf life for the product.

Setting a benchmark for quality control, the Quality Index assists in the management of seafood products for the food service and retail industry. It is applicable from point of harvest; through transport; auction; distribution and sale.

Sydney Fish Market General Manager, Bryan Skepper, says: “This app was designed to incorporate established industry practices and present them in a user friendly, modernised way. It incorporates best practice seafood shelf life assessment and record keeping in one simple place.”

Special features include the ability to archive files for further assessment, upload images directly to a Dropbox account and the capability to customise settings to meet individual operational requirements.

Jointly developed by Sydney Fish Market and The University of Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the free app was funded by the Australian Seafood Co-operative Research Centre and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. 

It is available for download on iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, via the iTunes and Android stores by searching ‘seafood quality index’.

Food Manufacturing Industry Guide to Safety 2015/16 Released

Food safety standards place obligations on Australian food businesses to produce food that is safe and suitable for consumption. Pro-Visual Publishing has released the latest edition of the Food Manufacturing Industry Guide to Safety 2015/16. This essential guide will assist food manufacturers in addressing and identifying key issues and other requirements affecting food safety, such as allergens, chemical residues and pathogens of foodborne illnesses.

In this industry, manufacturers must comply with the standards set by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), which has a legislated obligation to protect consumers from harmful food products. FSANZ has issued relevant standards that are absolutely binding for all food products manufactured in Australia. This year’s Guide clarifies the various standards that can apply in the processing and manufacturing of food.

Not everyone in the food manufacturing industry is up-to-date with the terminology outlined in standards. Fortunately the Guide has a section, which focuses on the definitions of certain terms. This helps food and beverage manufacturers to better understand the rules associated with determining what food products are acceptable. 

Alcohol warning labels a bit blurry says new study

 Australia’s current alcohol warning labels are failing to effectively convey health messages to the public, according to a new study from Deakin University.
Researchers with Deakin’s School of Psychology examined awareness of the voluntary warning labels and the ‘Get the facts’ logo that directs consumers to the industry-led informational website DrinkWise, and whether alcohol consumers visited this site.
The study found that recall of the current, voluntary warning labels on Australian alcohol products was non-existent, overall awareness was low, and few people reported visiting the DrinkWise website. 
“These findings demonstrate that the current approach of industry self-regulation is a straightforward case of regulatory failure,” said one of the report authors Peter Miller, Associate Professor of Psychology at Deakin.

The voluntary consumer messages on alcohol products were put in place in 2011 by DrinkWise – a ‘social aspects/public relations’ organisation, which is funded and governed by the alcohol industry – in response to a recommendation by an independent government review that all alcohol product labels depict a health warning.
The most recent audit showed that these labels are only depicted on around one third of alcohol products.
“Given that the majority of the Australian public support the introduction of mandatory health warning labels for alcohol products, and the success seen from strong, research-based tobacco labelling, it is time for the government to put in place mandatory, highly visible, black and white warning labels on the front of all alcohol products,” Associate Professor Miller said.
“We cannot continue to rely on voluntary industry-led measures where these important messages are being obscurely placed and take up less than five per cent of the product label.”

The study included 561 participants aged between 18-45 years, who completed an online survey to assess their alcohol consumption patterns, awareness of the ‘Get the facts’ messages, and their use of the DrinkWise website. Participants were asked about the series of DrinkWise warning labels, including ‘It is safest not to drink while pregnant’, an image of a silhouette of a pregnant woman with a strike through, ‘Is your drinking harming yourself or others?’, and ‘Kids and alcohol don’t mix’.
The results showed that no participants could spontaneously recall the ‘Get the facts’ logo. Around 16 per cent of participants could recall warning labels on alcohol products when prompted with images, 25 per cent recognised the logo and 13-38 per cent recognised the warnings. Overall, only 7.3 per cent of participants had visited the website.

Awareness of the ‘Get the facts’ logo and warning labels was also found to be positively associated with younger drinkers, increased frequency of binge drinking, consuming alcohol straight from the bottle or can, and being a supporter of warning labels.
“Our study demonstrated a low awareness of Australian alcohol warning labels, and a lack of consumer use of the industry-funded website. This highlights that while the DrinkWise brand might be a very successful marketing ploy by the alcohol industry, it doesn’t translate effectively into consumer knowledge or behaviour,” Associate Professor Miller said.
“Further research is now needed to evaluate the effectiveness of a consumer targeted alcohol control website.
“Information presented on an alcohol consumer information site needs to be evidence-based, useful and provide practical health advice. Currently, the DrinkWise website is used to create an impression of corporate social responsibility, but it does not promote evidence-based interventions and alcohol-harm reduction strategies.”


Anti-static flexible ducting for food manufacturers


Ducting specialist Eximo speed LOCK has launched FoodFlex AS-a flexible, anti-static polyether-polyurethane ducting solution with a stainless steel wire spiral that is designed to be used in a variety of food manufacturing applications, where dust and other food product generated abrasives have the potential to generate static electricity.

FoodFlex AS (the AS is for anti-static) is translucent, has a temperature resistance of – 40° up to + 100° C and is designed to be used for the suction and discharge of abrasive and granular materials commonly found in manufacturing applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries.
FoodFlex AS is resistant to chemical hydrolysis and a wide range of food-specific microbes, is lightweight, non-toxic and food safe according to US FDA-regulation 21 CFR 177.2600, while at the same time, FoodFlex AS is permanently anti-static (R ≤ 109 Ohm), and conforms to TRBS 2153 to provide excellent abrasion resistance and good all-round flexibility.
According to Eximo founder and Managing Director Roger Marriott, the launch of FoodFlex AS heralds yet another successful chapter in Eximo’s 31-year history of providing unique and cutting edge ducting solutions.

“We’ve launched a unique food safe and highly anti-static flexible ducting product designed to provide food manufacturers across Australia and New Zealand the safest and longest lasting environmental protection solution on the market, while also helping them keep both their workers and factories safe and secure from static electricity.”

“Nothing currently on the market compares with the anti-static capabilities, technical abilities and rugged reliability of FoodFlex AS, and once again, we have delivered industry a cutting edge safety solution that will safeguard both workers health and company profits.”


New verification technology to be used for food exports

DataTrace technology is set to be used for Australian export food & wine authentication, Security & Safety.

DataDot Technology Limited (DDT) says it is pursuing opportunities in the growing export food and wine authentication market through its newly established joint venture with Beston Pacific Group. 

DDT and Beston subsidiary company, Grape Ensembles (GE), have jointly established Brandlok Brand Protection Solutions, and over the next nine months Brandlok will develop labels and other devices to authenticate and provide information on wine, dairy, seafood, health food and meat products to be exported to China, Southeast Asia, the Americas, Europe and Middle East. 

DDT has granted an exclusive 5-year licence of its DataTrace authentication technology to Brandlok for incorporation into the labels and devices to prove authenticity for these exported products so that customers can track and trace the ingredients from paddock to plate and verify for themselves that the products are safe to eat.

Bruce Rathie, Chairman of DDT, said that the Brandlok joint venture and its arrangement with the new company BGFC focused on food exports to China and other markets represents a significant opportunity to capitalise on major concerns regarding food security, safety and counterfeiting in these emerging export markets.  

“We have seen a number of food and other product counterfeiting issues especially in places like China.”

“This technology is a mixture of labels, barcodes and apps that can be used on mobile devices allowing them to check the authenticity of what they are buying,” he said.


Mobile paperless HACCP inspection app

Techs4Biz has developed a paperless app for food safety inspectors to make sure their inspection meets safety and HACCP requirements. 

The mobile app takes away the hassle of lugging around packets of papers and clipboards and additional camera. The paperless app works on a variety of mobile devices (such as iOS and Android tablets and smartphones), and the speed and ease it affords saves all stakeholders time and money. 

The new paperless HACCP inspection app addresses the various limitations of conventional paper-based HACCP inspection methods including the laborious paperwork that needs to be manually filled up at every stage of the inspection. 

Apart from taking a lot of time, entering information in a paper form is not only tedious and error-prone but also confusing, especially when the inspection is being conducted in new sites environments.

The new app can help food inspectors use their mobile devices to enter data using pick lists or speech to text; take photos using the mobile device’s in-built camera; capture electronic signature; get real time access to reference material such as instructions, previous inspection history, and relevant standards (e.g ISO 22000); send completed report and images back to the office in real-time; automatically generate reports on the spot and send to clients; and follow up on required corrective actions.

Techs4Biz’s paperless HACCP inspection solution has been specifically configured to suit the inspection requirements of any type of food safety program including pest control, food handling, sanitation checks, equipment calibration, personal hygiene and many more.

Packaging safety: have you missed the boat?

Getting accredited involves investment and change, but for Hannapak, it was a no-brainer.

Independent carton board packaging manufacturer, Hannapak was recently certified with FSSC 22000 accreditation after a rapid installation of less than four months.

"We were proactive, we had dedicated staff and a dedicated team putting it in," says Ben Knight, marketing manager, Hannapak.

"There's been a lot of talk about certification for years with different customers, global customers wanting certification. In years to come we'd need that certification. We could have waited until then, but we decided to get in early and set the benchmark.

"The writing was on the wall that at some point during the future it would be mandatory, so why not do it on our terms and our timing and use it as our advantage and not wait for it to put pressure on the business?"

Knight says certification gives Hannapak an advantage with future customers from the FMCG category.

"We've got customers in the FMCG business that aren't even FSSC accredited, and they were quite impressed that we were."

Hannapak decided to go down the path of FSSC 22000 accreditation as it was one of the most globally recognised.

"There was definitely a level of investment to go down that path and there was a level of change to the factory, the manufacturing facility and the culture of the business," Knight says.

Investing in change

As part of certification, Hannapak implemented a number of processes.

"When you come through the facility there is no jewellery allowed and you need covered in shoes. That safety aspect is not just for your safety, but for the safety of the products as well.

"The equipment manufacturing practices is a big component of it as well, so the cleanliness, the wash-in, wash-out of the factory, keeping the factory neat and tidy and other processes."

Different areas of the facility also had to be rearranged or modified.

"A lot of the entry points into the factory we had to either close down or make them entrance points for a washing facility. We had to take a lot of stuff out of the factory, people eating, different types of drinks, café bars, that type of thing, had to come out of the factory. You can drink water in the factory and that's pretty much it.

"Culturally, people have been working here for a long time and being a community-based employer, we have a high staff retention rate as well. A lot of those people had been here and been set in their ways for a lot of years, so we had to supply them lockers, uniforms, and those facilities, the lunch room, so they had places to go. 

"That level of investment has been logistical and then there's training as well, along with the cost of putting that accreditation in and staying accredited," Knight says.

How does certification work?

"It works like this: a consultant will come in and do a gap analysis and you'll get a list that you need to comply with and they help you through it," Knight says.

"They'll come back and say 'where are you up to with this?' And work through the process until you get to the final stage where you want to become accredited.

"Then they come through, they do that accreditation process, and there still might be a couple of things to close out. Once those are closed out, you become certified.

"After 12 months you have to be recertified and have an audit conducted of your facility to see if you are still holding those standards that were set on that previous certification. If something lapses, for example, you'll get a notice what needs to be fixed up, if that's not fixed up or closed out within a certain period of time, then you lose that certification."

Further investment

Investment at Hannapak has stretched beyond certification, with the company also updating their technology and equipment over the past few years.

The highest level of investment has been in the printing and die-cutting process, Knight says.

Hannapak has implemented "the latest high speed printing presses with the latest quality enhancements on there, being the in-process inspection. With the die-cutting, we've put high speed die-cutting in with the power registered technology. It allows us to control the process and reduce board, which is not only cost saving but a sustainability piece as well.

Further innovations in the printing process include the in-line foil technology on the printing press.

Hannapak has been able to "convert current customers from traditional methods, to using a modern foil and also customers that were using polyestermetalites substrates. We've been converting them over as the in-line foil process, which is able to go through the post-consumer recycle chain."

"Quality systems is probably where the big focus has been in the last few years so it's investing in the equipment and investing in the quality systems that go on the equipment, whether it is printing, or die-cutting or gluing, so in-lines, inspections, code readings, in-line sorting, that sort of investment," Knight says. 

"We don't focus on our competitors, we don't focus on anything else but what we have at hand, what's in front of us, but we have an end-game."

Hannapak is staying tight-lipped about future plans, but Knight says the company is "always planning for the future.

"The next 12-24 months will be 'watch this space.'

"We've invested in equipment over the last couple of years and a lot of that equipment is coming to fruition in processes and how that equipment runs. This year we have taken on some additional work, so this year we will be focussed on our customers, getting that work done and growing their businesses."

The Hannapak site visit was organised by the Australian Institute of Packaging.