A 21.7-ounce box of Apple Jacks costs around $3.44 at Walmart. But if your kids’ breakfast cereal smells or tastes odd in the morning, who cares what you paid for it? Imagine taking 28 million boxes of Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, Froot Loops, and Honey Smacks off of shelves nationwide as Kellogg did...
To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with MyPRINTResource. Already have an account? Login
Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.
Complete the registration form.
A 21.7-ounce box of Apple Jacks costs around $3.44 at Walmart. But if your kids’ breakfast cereal smells or tastes odd in the morning, who cares what you paid for it? Imagine taking 28 million boxes of Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, Froot Loops, and Honey Smacks off of shelves nationwide as Kellogg did three years ago. Talk about a brand marketing and public relations nightmare!
The voluntary product recall came in response to about 50 people who called to complain about stale, metallic, and soap-like tastes and scents emanating from the cereal boxes’ plastic packaging; five of them reported nausea and vomiting. Although Kellogg said the potential for serious health problems was low, the manufacturer initiated the recall out of concern that the “uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell” could cause nausea and diarrhea among more sensitive consumers, especially children to whom the products are largely marketed.
Company chemists studied whether a wax-like compound in the packaging may have been the culprit. “It appears that the cereals were packaged in cereal boxes with waxed paper liners that imparted bad taste and odor to the food,” the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement. The FDA added that waxed papers are legal and safe to use in food packaging “but only when they are manufactured and used in compliance with Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requirements and FDA regulations.”
Although this particular recall was not print-related, per se, package printers worldwide need to be ever mindful of the rules regulating ink and its possible chemical molecular migration onto food products, said Tony Bean field marketing manager at Sun Chemical Corp. “Printers need to realize that the game field is changing, and they need to be proactive to eliminate potential problems,” Bean noted. “It is the brand owners, such as Kellogg’s and Nestle, who are driving this change” because their brand’s reputations are at stake. Like catalogers who dread the expense and hassle of product returns, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies cannot afford the negative publicity that accompanies product recalls. “It’s even worse in other countries,” he added, citing dramatic television news footage of uniformed police officers in Italy literally pulling Nestle pasta packages from store shelves amid a horsemeat scandal this past February.
Print providers need to use low-migration inks “on all food packaging structures where a risk of transfer of substances from the ink to the packed foodstuff cannot be excluded, ” according to an online blog from ink manufacturer Siegwerk. “Substance transfer can take place via either migration through the substrate or set-off or even vapor phase transfer (which does not even necessitate direct contact of the packaging structure with the packed foodstuff).
It must be understood, the blog continued, that, “a polypropylene pouch in a cardboard box would not be seen as an effective barrier against migrants originating from the printed film on the outside of the cardboard box. Thus, there would be no alternative than use of low-migration inks for such kind of food packaging.” Most of the scandals around printing inks have been related to UV inks because they contained photoinitiators with high migration potential. But water-based, solvent, oil, and other inks used in food packaging must be compliant and checked for migrating substances as well.
5 Years and Counting
Since drupa 2008, finding new food-friendly packaging inks and coatings has become more of a priority among printers and converters as well as their brand-owner customers. Even long-accepted standards and products are being called into question by a steady stream of studies and news reports detailing how chemicals used for packaging can migrate into food, pointed out INX International Ink Co. (Sakata INX Group).