Auditor: avoid printer maintenance at your peril

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food labeling regulations Printing

An example of an ink stain on the inside of a label
An example of an ink stain on the inside of a label
Food manufacturers are avoiding printer maintenance and facing higher waste and even recall costs as a consequence, according to Martyn Lynch, managing director and chief executive at Abington auditors.

Lynch told that he had known instances when food and drink products had been recalled as a result of potential ink contamination, where ink had leaked into the inside of packs. "Then you get the chance of food contamination."

Often manufacturers avoided such maintenance because it was expensive or because they could not afford to shut down the production line while it was going on, he said.

In addition, engineers often overlooked the workings of food label printers, said Lynch. "Nobody ever looks inside the machinery ... I can't remember a time when I have seen a food company come in [to a printer/packaging firm] and ask to do that."

Inspected by naked eye

Another problem was that a lot of packaging and labelling was still being inspected by the naked eye in many factories and often ink and oil spills and blots on packs were hard to spot, he added. "There could be a little splash and you would never see it."

Nor was it just the smaller companies with fewer resources that were hit by such issues - often it would be larger firms with older equipment they had not updated.

Aside from the more serious issues, printing and labelling errors could affect consumer perception of the brand if, for example, packaging emerged looking faded, Lynch told this site. "There can be cosmetic problems if you get hard ink build up on [machine] rollers."

Common errors

Common printer errors included oil splashes on packaging, which could be attributed to seal breakage in different rollers, and grease spotting, potentially as a result of over-greasing equipment, he said. "Hard ink building up on roller guards can break and cause spots."

Manufacturers could also over-fill some printers with spray powder, which is used to help ink dry. "But too much can leave a rough texture."

Regular auditing and cleaning of machines, constant maintenance and keeping proper maintenance logs would help keep a check on these problems, said Lynch.

In his experience the pharmaceutical industry was much better at keeping a tight rein on these areas, he said.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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