In order to prove that that corrugated containers provided for food packaging meet acceptable sanitation criteria at the point of use, the industry requested third-party testing.
And the results were welcome news.
"One hundred percent of the samples evaluated were below the sanitation levels of 1000 colony forming units (CFU) per swab for the organisms tested," said Maryann Sanders, senior toxicologist, microbiologist and regulatory compliance specialist at Haley & Aldrich.
The testing was conducted on 720 swab samples taken from containers from six different corrugated manufacturers in the Northwest, California and Florida.
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.
"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.
The corrugated packaging is sourced, manufactured and converted in the U.S., as well as sold and distributed internationally and was valued at $26.4 billion in 2012.
The industry has been focused on recycling with success. In 1993 recycling was at 54% was by 2012 the rate was 91%.