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Interview with Ron Osborn from Wrigley

Ron offers his perspectives on food packaging safety and supply of information in the supply chain.

You are primarily responsible for the Safety and Regulatory Compliance assessments of food contact materials at Wrigley, have you seen any changes in recent years in the level of scrutiny applied to these assessments?  

Absolutely.  I would also say not just more scrutiny, but there is a growing awareness of the need and purpose of these evaluations.  We are getting inquiries from our customers as well as consumers.  The desire for more transparency in the supply chain continues to grow.

What level of contact do you have with the suppliers of your packaging materials? Do you find that the information they supply is sufficient for you to understand to what extent these materials comply with FDA guidance?  

I interact directly with our suppliers when evaluating their packaging materials.  Most suppliers are very willing to help, but in many cases lack the expertise to do so without assistance.  I do find that with help most suppliers are able to provide what we need to ensure both the safety and regulatory compliance of their packaging materials.

Do you feel there is a sufficient level of communication across the supply chain and a good level of sharing of ideas and challenges in the food contact arena? If not, how do you think this could best be addressed?  

From my perspective this is one of the major gaps in the Supply Chain.  Too often the companies that manufacture packaging material components (films, adhesives, inks, etc) are not aware of the end use and this can create problems for the Brand Owner.  Sharing ideas and challenges across the supply chain would lead to innovative solutions that would benefit all involved.  Forums such as the Food Contact Conferences are good opportunities to share information, but there needs to be more effort between the companies involved to ensure that all of the requirements are understood by all. 

Do you see any imminent changes on the horizon for the regulation of food contact materials? What changes if any would you call for?  

I would not say that I see imminent changes in the regulation of food contact materials, but I definitely see an increase in demand on CPGs to be more aware of the safety of their food contact materials.  This is going to lead to the insistence of more transparency in the supply chain and for the suppliers to take a more active role in ensuring safety and compliance of their packaging materials.

If you had 5 minutes with an FDA legislator what would you ask them?  

Are there any plans to implement a system similar to the Declaration of Compliance System in Europe?  Do they feel that there would be any value in a mandated system of sharing information across the supply chain?

Lastly, what are you looking forward to about joining as speaker at this year’s conference?  

First, I always look forward to interacting with the large variety of representatives from across the supply chain, as well as the legal and regulatory delegates that attend.  Hearing the different perspectives that everyone brings helps in understanding the challenges that we all face in the area of food contact.  In terms of speaking, I hope to be able to help others understand the challenges facing the Brand Owners as well as sharing our best practices in the area of determining the safety and compliance of the food contact materials that we use.

Join Ron Osborn and many other indutry experts at Food Contact & Additives 2015