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Study shows cleanliness of corrugated shipping containers


February 18, 2015
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Testing and analysis conducted by the University of California-Davis and toxicology experts Haley & Aldrich investigating the cleanliness of corrugated shipping containers confirmed that all corrugated containers tested met acceptable…

Testing and analysis conducted by the University of California-Davis and toxicology experts Haley & Aldrich investigating the cleanliness of corrugated shipping containers confirmed that all corrugated containers tested met acceptable sanitation levels.

The testing was conducted on 720 swab samples taken from containers from six different corrugated manufacturers in the US Northwest, California and Florida. The corrugated container industry requested the third-party testing to confirm that corrugated containers provided for food packaging meet acceptable sanitation criteria at the point of use.

“The single-use approach for corrugated containers minimizes the potential for contamination. After they are used, corrugated containers are returned to the paper mill for recycling. The recycling process greatly reduces bacterial loading,” said Dennis Colley, executive director of the Corrugated Packaging Alliance.

Speaking on her analysis of corrugated, Maryann Sanders, senior toxicologist, microbiologist and regulatory compliance specialist at Haley & Aldrich, said that “one hundred percent of the samples evaluated were below the sanitation levels of 1000 colony forming units (CFU) per swab for the organisms tested.”

The 1000 CFU per swab threshold used by the study was defined by Dr. Warriner from the University of Guelph, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, and the New South Wales Food Authority. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have guidelines for packaging bacterial levels.

This follows a study from the University of Guelph late last year that indicated sanitation concerns with an alternative shipping method, reusable plastic containers. Surface testing of these containers found high levels of bacteria.

As the U.S. study notes, recycling corrugated at the current Canadian national rate, estimated at 85%, greatly reduces bacterial loading.