The food processing industry is global in scope and subject to a number of international compliance standards, including those for control of supply chain, product processing and packaging. Whilst many of these standards encourage senior management engagement to ensure compliance in process approach and continuous improvement, the opportunity for divergence in the supply chain is often missed, with over reliance on the supplier to meet the relevant quality standards for sealing materials.
Compliance if often accepted on the basis that the product or material has been used before and the product looks right, with certification being completely voluntary. Increasingly, major food processing companies are requiring its suppliers to demonstrate material compliance through third party testing and approval rather than self-certification. These suppliers include manufacturers of sealing products used in the industry’s production processes.
From a product design perspective, sealing manufacturers are tasked with ensuring that materials supplied to the food industry are compliant with UK, European, U.S. or appropriate regulations.
The European EU1935:2004 standard sets specific requirements for elastomeric materials, such as Natural, Nitrile, EPDM, Neoprene and Silicone Rubber relating to levels and types of leachable substances released in use. It goes further to define the need to control the supply chain and have complete traceability within it.
This goes beyond most people’s understanding of FoodSafe materials where they typically quote FDA compliant constituents of the compound and failing to understand that once combined, new compounds are made that themselves can be harmful if released during contact with food due to in vitro cytotoxicity and biological reactivity.
Control of the Supply Chain
Compliance with EU1935 regulations is best achieved by working with a material supplier who has full control of and responsibility for the entire supply chain, from raw materials to final compound.
This necessitates managing the procurement of constituent chemicals and materials directly from producers, auditing suppliers, and monitoring any material modifications that may not meet original specifications.
For sealing manufacturers, this means validation and full traceability of raw materials; absence of foreign matter and leachates from chemical compounds; independent chemical certification to industry standards; an auditable trail; and visibility of the supply chain throughout.
For material manufacturers such as MacLellan Rubber, maintaining product consistency in terms of raw material specifications is achieved by implementing the above, through independent testing and certification, and process control.
In assuming responsibility for the quality and consistency of raw materials, MacLellan only deals with ISO-certified suppliers. Providing further assurance, a sealing product will provide consistent, stable performance.
Confidence in Product Supplied
Meeting the increasing quality demands of the market can be challenging enough for food producers who are extremely focused on ensuring the quality of their ingredients. All of this hard work can be put in jeopardy by using sealing products that are of questionable origin or manufactured using unsuitable raw materials.
ISO registration of suppliers is essential in any supply chain but does not mandate compliance of materials supplied to EU1935 standard.
Taking the next step of ensuring the material supplier has control of the supply chain is essential – MacLellan Rubber offer this.
Regular independent testing and certification is critical – MacLellan Rubber offer this.
Working to the highest, world class production standards for supply of rubber sheet and compound is vital – MacLellan Rubber offer this.
Producing sealing materials to these quality levels on a consistent basis means that Food processors and manufacturers can fit and forget gaskets, pipe seals, wear strips, agitator paddles etc, knowing that the risk of contamination from these parts to their product quality is all but eliminated.