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While this website remains available as an information source, please note that the North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Inc. (NAMPA) ceased operations on December 31, 2017. For additional information on metal packaging, users are encouraged to visit the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) website at http://www.cancentral.com/.

 

Importance of Can Coatings to Food Safety


Most consumers do not realize the critical role that canned food and beverage products play in ensuring food safety and nutrition for themselves and their families. Cans enables high temperature sterilization of food products when initially packaged, which is critical in maintaining the sterility and safety of the food product. Bisphenol A (BPA)-based epoxy resin can coatings are applied to eliminate interactions between the can and the food contents, which prevents perforation defects in the can that would allow bacteria and microorganisms to enter. By maintaining the integrity of the can, the coatings protect against food poisoning caused by microbiological contamination.


Current Can Coating Technologies

Think about the wide variety of food items available in cans today. For each of those food items, many factors must be assessed in determining the right coating material for the metal package. Epoxy resins with BPA have been used safely in metal food packaging for decades. .  They have been deemed safe by regulatory agencies around the world.Epoxy resins offer superior performance in a number of critical coating performance characteristics, including corrosion resistance, application, and minimal environmental impact. They are resistant to the wide range of chemistries found in food and beverage products; therefore, they can be used for a wide variety of applications. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there has not been an incidence of food-borne illness resulting from a failure of cans in more than 30 years, which is the same amount of time that epoxy resin coatings have been used.

 

Development of New Can Coating Technologies

As part of the next generation of coatings, new materials and innovative processes, including both epoxy and non-epoxy coatings, are being developed, tested -- and for some products, commercialized.  As noted above, many factors are involved in selecting the coatings used in the development of a can/end specification, including food type, sterilization process used, metal substrate, and performance characteristics.  But the most important factor is the ability of that coating to protect the food content and to provide the highest level of safety available.

Food safety cannot be jeopardized in attempts to find alternative processes for metal packaged foods.  There are thousands of container specifications in North America that cover the vast array of food products packaged.  Developing new or modifying existing specifications is not a simple task.  New specifications, even those employing existing materials and technologies, are still subject to exhaustive efficacy testing to ensure performance, safety, and product compatibility requirements are met.  There is, for example, only one definitive method for testing shelf-life of a canned food product, and that is to put it in a can and store it on a shelf.  Testing for that time period is needed to ensure safety, quality, nutritional value, and flavor are maintained.


Considerations in Development of Can Coatings Technologies


Based on current manufacturing processes and regulatory requirements, the average length of time needed for a brand new can specification, from coating development (1-3+ years), through application trials and testing (2-3 years), to commercialization (0.2-2 years), is four-to-seven years. Industry is at different stages in this multi-year process for various products. Some products are close to commercialization, while some are still in the testing phase. And although there has been progress with some types of canned products and additional, aggressive research is ongoing, the fact remains there is no readily available alternative to epoxy resins made from BPA for all the types of metal food and beverage packaging currently in use.

Canned food manufacturers are committed to providing safe, nutritious food to consumers. We will not compromise the safety of our products in any way by bringing to market an alternative material that has not been thoroughly reviewed, tested, and approved to meet all performance and federal regulatory requirements. While this process, from initiation to conclusion, may be lengthy, it is critically important to ensure the health and safety of consumers.

 





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