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. “One hundred percent of the samples evaluated were below the sanitation levels of 1,000 colony forming units [CFU] per swab for the organisms tested,” says Maryann Sanders, Senior Toxicologist, Microbiologist, and Regulatory Compliance Specialist at Haley & Aldrich.
The 1,000 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 testing was conducted on 720 swab samples taken from containers from six different corrugated manufacturers in the 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,” says Dennis Colley, Executive Director of the Corrugated Packaging Alliance.
Nearly 90 percent of corrugated shipping containers produced in the U.S. are recovered for recycling.