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IT-aided plans for safe food packaging proposed

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IT-aided plans for safe food packaging proposed

March 11
12:12 2013

Researchers have developed a methodology based on software to help with the safety of packaging throughout the supply chain.  

Failure Mode, Effects, and Criticality Analysis ” (FMECA) methodology was developed to detect substances, materials, and steps that are critical for the safety of packaging systems used in food contact and related applications.

However, the researchers said the intent is to assist the end-user in feeding numerical tools, which require many inputs and knowledge, by providing emulated expert skills rather than substituting human reasoning.

Outputs are available to the end-user as interactive HTML documents linking to figures, graphs, FMECA analysis either in PNG format or PDF.

The approach is developed as an open-source project that encourages the sharing of databases, numerical tools, inference engines, rule bases and case study templates.

The study extends the existing predictive and modeling approaches to packaging systems by integrating multicomponent and flowchart considerations within a single and expandable quantitative FMECA methodology.

The final goal is to reach a preventive approach “safe-by-design” instead of a “safe-as-tested” method.

Case study tests

Nguyen et al tests the methodology on contamination of food by printing ink constituents, during package development to anticipate defects and as part of risk-orientated screening.

The framework, including physical modeling and expert systems, has been integrated within the open-source simulation software FMECAengine.

FMECAengine addresses steps involved in the approach: translating queries into values, building dynamically simulation trees accounting for simulation chaining and inheritance of parameters, updating dynamically simulation trees by adding or removing branches to solve performing simulations, maintaining a database of all intermediate results and deriving corresponding severity and criticality values.

The FMECAengine software was developed in the framework of the SafeFoodPack Design project.

Technical requirements

The food industry faces technical requirements such as developing a packaging material that keeps or improves the shelf-life and complies with the European legal framework to prevent the contamination of food by packaging constituents, details the project brief.

The main goals of the proposed FMECA methodology are to analyze the effect of every mode of migration upon the food contamination and rank them comparatively to a threshold of concern.

“Our modified FMECA approach prepares responses, scenarios, and possible ramifications of foreseen or unforeseen mass transfer of packaging constituents between thermoplastic components and food, which could develop into a major crisis.

“The approach relies on few specific prerequisites: the geometry and the assembling must be approximately known, the intended food-packaging chain must be described, the identity of materials must be available,” wrote the researchers.

 

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