Driving food safety and traceability
Masterbatch SA is obsessive about providing industry-leading products, driven by food safety and product traceability requirements.
In contrast to global market conditions against the backdrop of the eurozone crisis, Masterbatch SA (MBSA) is investing in its largest capital expansion ever, in a clear statement of the company’s commitment to South Africa, its stakeholders and the plastics industry. ‘MBSA drives recession-proof value parameters – traceability built on a world-class IT system, product engineering built by qualified technical and scientific experts, production built on superior process, and innovation built on an “open-lab” policy for customers,’ explains MD, Anthony van Niekerk. ‘The consequence is innovation on many levels, to support and pioneer new market trends. This value proposition is driven by traceability and food safety packaged within the best industry lead times,’ he adds.
MBSA’s investments in production assets are primarily focused on capacity expansion and utilizing ultra-modern equipment to maximise production efficiency. ‘We’re adding value where it’s required by our customers,’ Anthony continues. ‘Technology investments into all aspects of the business are a cornerstone of our business model. Core values such as integrity and responsibility and the full value
proposition are recession-proof and at MBSA, we remain unaffected by any economic cycle.’
Food safety option
Food safety has become increasingly important in recent years, with many consumers concerned that packaging ingredients may contaminate food and harm their health; and plastics packaging converters require assurance that their raw materials comply with food safety standards.
‘With ISO 22000:2005 accreditation for food safety, MBSA is an obvious choice as a masterbatch and pigment supplier,’ Anthony maintains. ‘We adhere to a strictly-controlled restrictive substance list as well as tightly-monitored production and testing procedures to ensure products that are safe for direct food contact. There’s currently no legislation in South Africa that governs the use of polymers, pigments and other raw materials used in the production of masterbatch. Therefore, we use frameworks established by Europe’s Food Contact Materials & Packaging legislation and by the US Food & Drug Administration to confirm products are suitable for direct food contact applications.’
A recently-introduced wine glass and fork symbol displayed on MBSA’s orange label provides assurance that products are heavy-metal free and can be used for direct food contact packaging, including food and drink containers, and cutlery. ‘The wine glass and fork symbol is widely used in North America and parts of Asia and is mandatory for products sold in Europe in terms of Regulation EC 1935/2004,’ Anthony advises.
‘MBSA customers have the assurance that formulations are constantly updated to ensure compliance with the constantly-changing regulatory environment and legislation on food contact. If the wine glass and fork symbol does not appear on our orange label and the application requires food safety assurance, we’ll make the necessary adjustments to ensure compliance as instructed by our customers.’
Food safety empowered by traceability
MBSA actively uses traceability in its QA systems by tracing the origin of all ingredients and tracking the finished product through electronic data management, thereby enhancing trackback, recall and root-cause analysis capabilities. This enables proactive action to be taken if required. As well as an ISO 22000:2005 accreditation, MBSA is accredited with ISO 9001:2008; ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 for quality, environmental and health & safety management systems.
‘We synthesise skill, knowledge and experience to provide the most comprehensive, premium-grade masterbatch and pigments, ensuring that our customers’ valuable brands are protected and enhanced,’ Anthony states. ‘Through our “open lab” policy we gain a full understanding of each customer’s processes and daily challenges, allowing our technical experts to assist in improving operating efficiencies via masterbatch formulations and to advise on changes in industry regulations and product specifications.’
Masterbatch is offered in two ways: as polyolefin polymer specific, with formulations available in the most common thermoplastics such as PP, HDPE, LDPE and LLDPE; as well as PET, PVC, acrylics, ABS and HIPS; or universal that’s compatible with a broad range of polymer bases. Converters are advised on the most suitable masterbatch for the intended application and offered easy, reliable and cost-efficient ways of adding colour and/or performance enhancers, such as, but not limited to, anti-static, UV/light stabilisers, processing aids, antioxidants, flame retardants, antimicrobials, desiccants, anti-fog, anti-block and slip additives. Dry blends or pigments are also supplied.
Masterbatch for a modern world
Many exciting developments are emerging in the field of plastics processing.
Additives provide converters with an easy way to enhance the traceability of finished products with applications such as laser marking to uniquely identify materials. Pigments with thermal indicating properties that change colour under certain conditions, or the creation of tamper-evident packaging and food packaging that ensures a longer shelf life all contribute to increased food safety.
Antimicrobials, which are silver-based additives, provide exceptional bacterial protection and odour control.
Plastics packaging is constantly improved by utilizing the full potential of chemistry in the selection of the correct properties and concentration of masterbatch for a particular application.
By developing the same physical and colour characteristics as the original specifications, MBSA is meeting the challenges set by packaging industry leaders who are reducing wall thicknesses and using
faster processing speeds.
‘Shorter machine cycles, lean manufacturing and operational efficiency are primary objectives for converters wanting to stay competitive in the market. To assist them in their quest, we’re committed to supplying responsible, consistent and optimized solutions,’ Anthony concludes.