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 the migration of chemicals used for packaging into the food and ultimately, consumers.
Some food packaging print/converters find themselves dealing with issues that didn’t directly impact them before. Veteran providers are employing new products and technologies to comply with stringent global governmental regulations and standards, as well as additional demands from food marketers.
At drupa Stand 3A50, all parties will find valuable, actionable solutions to help them navigate these challenges. Under the Visual Communication Technology umbrella, SAKATA INX Group - including INX International Ink Co. and INX Digital International - are highlighting a range of Low Migration ink and coating products for flexographic and offset production, flat sheet metal decorating and sheetfed folding carton food packaging, among others. SAKATA INX Group specialists will be on hand to answer questions and provide additional details.
SAKATA INX visitors can also take with them a copy of “Low Migration Inks in Packaging,” a brief yet comprehensive action guide to help food package providers deal with a myriad of challenges they face today. Fresh off the press, it clearly summarizes the latest, most relevant regulations and standards - including FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) requirements for the U.S., Canada and Europe - plus packaging supply chain links and responsibilities, and practical recommendations for print-production processes.
“Due to our global presence and long-term relationships with food marketers and package printers, we have been intimately involved with all aspects of emerging food packaging challenges,” observed Chris Bonk, vice president and sheetfed director for INX International.
“There is no question that, during recent years, the focus on packaging has turned noticeably inward. While exterior package ink and coating properties such as brand color fidelity, gloss, rub and chemical resistance remain key concerns, issues involving chemical migration have dominated the dialogue. Indirect as well as direct food contact packaging is under the microscope. Every step in the process is being scrutinized, from selection of raw materials for inks to print-production additives such as adhesion promoters and foam suppressors.”
In addition to covering these areas, Mr. Bonk notes the “Low Migration Inks in Packaging” guide also includes a glossary of relevant abbreviations and definitions, a simple yet highly helpful tool for easily interpreting regulations, special precautions and recommendations.
Mr. Bonk points out while government regulations and industry standards protect the food consuming public, these requirements along with publicity regarding this issue have catalyzed development of advanced package printing products. A number of SAKATA INX Group’s Low Migration ink and coating options are being showcased at drupa, including:
• High performance EcoTech LM sheetfed folding carton inks.
• Energy Curable Low Migration flexographic and offset inks.
• UV Hybrid Low Migration inks for flat sheet metal decorating.
• Oil-resistant gas barrier coating material for food packaging.
• Energy Curable Low Migration coatings.
“INX offerings meet the most stringent standards,” Mr. Bonk said. “For example, EcoTech™ Low Migration sheetfed process color inks are specifically designed for indirect food contact folding carton applications. The EcoTech LM system is formulated without mineral oil, is cobalt-free and has minimal residual odor. These inks comply with the Nestle Guidance Note on Packaging Inks and conform to U.S. and European food packaging guidelines for outer printing. They also meet ISO 2846-1 standards and are suitable to GRACoL G7 certification.”
Mr. Bonk indicated that low odor is a key INX criterion when selecting raw materials, in order to avoid unwanted transfer to the packaging while also avoiding potential health hazards due to chemicals from the graphic process.
“We recommend that Low Migration ink testing be performed under actual press conditions,” he cautioned. “This will ensure that a given ink not only meets the single specific migration limit of individual components, but an overall migration limit on all components as well. Of course, it must also comply with brand owner specifications.”
Bonk further suggests that brand owners, printers and converters spell out and publish their respective migration protocols, as Nestle has with its Guidance procedures.
“As global Low Migration issues continue to evolve, food marketers and packaging providers can look to INX for up-to-date information and assistance, including more ink and coating products which fully comply with requirements and safely meet consumer needs.”