Tamper evidence revisited

We’re seeing a renewed interest in tamper-evident packaging that also incorporates brand protection functionality.

We’re seeing a renewed interest in tamper-evident packaging that also incorporates brand protection functionality. Current tamper-evident packaging laws evolved from a prescriptive requirement (such as stating that a package must include two components) to a performance requirement stating that the system should “reasonably be expected to provide visible evidence to consumers that tampering occurred.”

While this freed up the packaging designers, it also added an element of uncertainty. After all, who should be the judge of whether the tamper-evident system really does “provide visible evidence?”

Even though there are tamper-evident regulations for only a few products, there are many new agency pressures. Those pressures began back with the 2006 FDA Combating Counterfeit Drugs report and the 2009 FDA Open Meeting on Economically Motivated Adulteration. They resurfaced in the January 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the October 2011 GAO report “Better Coordination Could Enhance [FDA] Efforts to Address Economic Adulteration and Protect the Public Health.” These emphasize an FDA focus on prevention, intentional adulteration, and FDA doing more to protect consumers. They also created a current focus on tamper-evident packaging and brand protection. While there are doubts about FDA’s available resources to shift to prevention and enforce the FSMA, no company wants to be the landmark, precedent-setting case.

The focus on packaging components and security is also gaining traction on the global stage. In 2009 the International Standards Organization (ISO) created Technical Committee 247 on Fraud Countermeasures and Controls, which includes a specific focus on “counterfeiting of material goods.” The first standard has been accepted as is: ISO 12931 Performance Criteria for Authentication Solutions for Anti-Counterfeiting in the Field of Material Goods. This standard, and the overall technical committee, has a distinct focus on packaging countermeasures.

Beyond the straightforward focus on whether tamper-evident packaging components are effective, they clearly have a role in brand-protection countermeasures. A key will be optimizing the tamper-evident regulatory requirements while seeking new ways to meet standards or business brand-protection needs. There is a brand-protection opportunity when the tamper-evident packaging components are under close scrutiny by consumers. That close scrutiny—a consumer being required to look closely at a packaging component to open the package—is an effective opportunity to provide incremental brand-protection features. Due to the increased FDA and ISO focus on brand-protection authentication features, enhancing the tamper-evident packaging components with brand-protection features is a logical innovation. 

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