Food products are those items that fill the shelves and aisles of the typical grocery market. They may be processed or fresh. A majority of the approximately 40 to 50,000 items in the market are food related and most have specialized package requirements with special testing needs.
The packaging for such products will focus on the protective, containment, convenience, identification, dispensing, and utility functions of the package to deal with the hazards that occur in the distribution and storage environments. In addition, food products often require specialized functions from the package including dispensing, motivation, brand identity, and a host of others. The testing for such containers may follow the packaging functions as described below.
||Hazards & Sources
||Typical Test Procedures
|Protection from impacts or shock
||Shock related damage from manual or mechanical handling during storage and transportation
||Package freefall drop tests
|(8) drop test systems
|Identification and motivation: protection from vibration induced scuffing
||Label or container surfaces can become scuffed from transportation vibration resulting in illegible or unappealing package surfaces
||Random vibration tests
|More than (12) different vibration test systems to meet all types of test requirements
|Protection from temperature and humidity extremes
||Temperature and humidity extremes in storage and distribution
||High temperature and humidity extremes:
Low temperature extremes
||More than (60) different temperature & humidity test chambers
|Utility: ability to stack the packages for better space utilization
||Top load compression from storage and from stacking in vehicles
||Compression test to failure:
Compression test, max load and release
ISTA procedure 2 and similar
|(4) complete container compression test systems
|Utility: the ability to resist pressure differentials from high altitude shipment
||Lower atmospheric pressure of higher altitudes, above 5000 feet by truck or in aircraft, can expand any closed system
||Expansion and over-pressurization of sealed containers or compartments.
||(4) complete vacuum test chambers
|Containment: resisting stress cracking from product interaction and top load
||Highly acidic or highly basic products can cause stress cracking of polymeric containers in the presence of heat, top load, or pressure
||top-load stress crack resistance testing
|Top-load fixturing that can accommodate a wide variety of containers
|Utility: forklift handling stability for unitized pallet loads
||Most consumer product pallet loads are handled with forklifts. A sudden turn by the forklift driver can cause a load to come apart on the forks and fall apart.
||Fork Lift stability course procedure.
|Complete forklift handling test courses at all lab sites
|Containment and convenience: bottle cap torque retention
||The caps on many polymeric bottles can lose retention torque through temperature cycling, vibration, and other distribution hazards.
||Cap torque removal studies following temperature cycling and vibration
|Complete facilities for cap retention studies at all lab sites
|Utility and Dispensing: spray pattern studies
||The spray patterns of pump and trigger sprayers can be affected by heat, product exposure, vibration and other hazards
||Spray pattern evaluation run before and after heat/cold cycling, vibration, and shelf life tests can address this issue
Various other procedures
|All Westpak locations have the capability to run this analysis
By subjecting your product/package system to the above suggested test procedures, or others, you will quickly determine the ability of the primary, secondary, and tertiary package systems to perform their intended functions in the anticipated distribution and in-use environments. Minor adjustments, major changes, supplier qualifications, material changes, or reevaluations can normally be accomplished at this point, prior to disappointing your customer with poor product quality upon delivery.
Remember: no one's job in the Corporation is finished until your customer has a quality product and a satisfied look. This very simple concept is what we call quality delivered.
When considering package testing such as suggested above, remember that your package system will always be tested. The distribution environment will make sure of that. The only question to be answered is "who sees the results first, you or your customer?" A brief and cost effective package system evaluation prior to initial shipment is a good policy regardless of your product.