Industry Focus: Food and Beverage Sealing

Trelleborg

Industry Focus: Food and Beverage Sealing

The food and beverage industry has a long history. Beginning approximately 11,500 years ago, agriculture started to take hold, allowing people to leave behind nomadic lifestyles in favor of a more sedentary mode of life tending crops. The advent of irrigation systems enabled crops to resist drought and allowed planting in inhospitable environments.

The industrial revolution led to consistent, low cost and large scale production. Food preservatives, such as antioxidants and antimicrobial agents reduced spoilage and pathogens.

Recent history
In 1822, the first tinned products arrived in America allowing travel over great distances, especially when railroads and barges, followed by road and air transport,
permitted worldwide distribution to distant areas.

Mass production of food had the advantage of reducing costs, leading to a reduction of malnutrition. However, there were also disadvantages with food processing leading to potential issues with contamination. This brought about the development of standards.

Development of standards
In the 19th century, a contaminated diphtheria vaccination resulted in the deaths of 13 children. This in combination with media backlash to misbranded or adulterated drugs resulted in the formation of what is now known today as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1927.

The FDA has become one of the most widely respected and followed regulatory bodies for food and beverage products worldwide. 3-A established standards relating to hygienic design in the late 1920s, adapting the more modern system known today in 1944. In Europe, the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) formed as the equivalent to 3-A in 1989.

Fast forwarding to 2004, Europe established its own set of standards under the EU 1935/2004 Regulation (EC), which regulates the materials and articles intended to come into contact with food. The importance of these kinds of committees has been proven historically a number of times. Even as far back as ancient Rome, the public had concerns about the lead pipes that their drinking water ran through. 

Today's landscape
Since the 1980s a significant amount of company growth within the food & beverage industry has been seen through acquisitions, but recently several larger
companies have been selling off subsidiaries in an attempt to return to ”core business”. In 2015, food and beverage producers are seeking new and innovative products, process improvements and cost reductions. This is due in part to new guidelines and regulations, such as the recent FDA call for the elimination of trans fats.

Those in the industry can expect to face many emerging considerations and complex issues in the years to come. Andreas Schmiedel, Technical Manager Life Science and Process Industry Europe for Trelleborg Sealing Solutions says: “Primed to respond to upcoming regulations in China and modifications to present regulations, such as the elastomer guidelines for potable water in Germany, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions has positioned itself to be in the first row and act accordingly in response to any emerging changes, allowing us to supply up-to-date and state of the art solutions for all material classes on a global scale.

“Due to the global nature of the business, a great challenge lies in providing customers with materials carrying different national approvals for all regions of the world. And when certain regulations conflict with others, this means that no one material can satisfy all approvals. But this is a challenge that Trelleborg has been successfully meeting for over five decades, leading to the development of new materials, such as the Turcon® MF grades, and designs, like the Turcon® Variseal® Ultra-clean, and more recently a large food and beverage focused expansion to the liquid silicone rubber facilities in Pernik, Bulgaria.”