Hazard analysis and risk management in packaging printing

Continuing our series on navigating ink-related food safety standards

We have launched a blog series focused on meeting Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) requirements. In our introductory post, we outlined the three primary food safety management schemes for packaging printers and provided a summary of eleven food safety standards relating to ink.

In the next eleven blogs, we’ll delve deeper into these standards and their ink-related requirements. We’ll also discuss how our ink management solutions can help you meet these requirements.

In this blog, we will explore the first standard, hazard analysis and risk management. Where applicable, we will provide hyperlinks to web pages, and suggest further reading on our InkConnection blogsite.

Hazard-related requirements in the three food safety management schemes

The criteria concerning hazard analysis and risk management can be found in:

Even though each standard uses different wording, they all have similar requirements.

How to establish a safety plan

Initially, the company needs to establish a safety plan and initiate the preliminary stages of hazard analysis. This involves:

  • Forming a multidisciplinary team.
  • Developing a food safety plan, which should be implemented and sustained to ensure product safety within the certification’s scope. The team must consider relevant codes of practice or recognized guidelines. FSSC 22000 and SQF require adherence to HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) principles.
  • Detailing the products, including their composition (e.g. raw materials, inks, varnishes, coatings, and other printing chemicals), and specifying the origin of raw materials, including the use of recycled materials.
  • Outlining all production steps through a process flow diagram. This diagram must delineate each process step, from raw material receipt, through manufacturing and storage, to customer dispatch. It should also encompass the receipt and preparation of raw materials such as additives, inks, and adhesives, as well as the utilization of rework materials.

Hazard analysis and control measures

The team must identify and document all potential food safety hazards at each process step, including those related to raw materials (such as inks). These risks might involve microbiological threats, chemical contamination, and the possibility of unintended substance migration from packaging materials to food or other hygiene-sensitive products. The team must implement control measures to mitigate these risks to acceptable levels.

Low migration inks and ink dispensing

Ink suppliers have formulated low migration inks to minimize the transfer of ink components from the printed surface to the contents of the package.
Pumping and dispensing low migration inks can be challenging due to their specific formulation characteristics, designed to minimize the migration of potentially harmful substances. The materials used in pumps and dispensing equipment need to be compatible with the specific chemical composition of these inks. Some components of these inks may be more aggressive or reactive, requiring more durable or chemically resistant materials in the dispensing and pumping system.

‘Valves are specially designed for problem-free dispensing of low migration inks’

GSE’s solutions to comply with hazard-related requirements

GSE offers a range of solutions to meet hazard-related requirements. These include software, equipment and services, designed to align with safety standards mentioned earlier.

Our software aids in professionalizing the management of product composition and process flows. The core features of our GSE Ink manager software include a comprehensive database, detailing the composition of each unique colour blend used in printing, along with expiry dates for the inks. Additionally, we provide optional software solutions for the procurement and receipt of raw materials, as well as for reworking press-return inks.

To enhance personnel and environmental protection in printing facilities, our optional GSE Hazard symbol printing software automatically generates internationally recognized hazard warning labels for transporting and storing colour blends.

Our equipment meets stringent CE and ATEX safety standards. Specifically for dispensing low migration UV-curable inks, we have selected durable pumps and developed dedicated dispensing valves.

As part of our service contracts, we conduct service visits and provide risk assessments and method statements to ensure safe service execution.

Further reading on the InkConnection blogsite

If you require advice on complying with GFSI requirements, feel free to reach out to us. For any other inquiries regarding ink logistics, please contact us at info@gsedispensing.com.