The primary goal of food packaging is to preserve the quality and safety of food items until they reach consumers' hands. However, food manufacturers also use packaging to present their products in an appealing way, while consumers rely on packaging to help them make the best buying decision. Do you know where the line is drawn between presenting your products nicely and deceptive packaging?

Packaging for all types of food products has to meet specific quality requirements, prescribed by relevant national or international regulations. Knowing the specific packaging requirements for your food product is essential to ensure the product's market success and to avoid issues with authorities and consumer organizations.

Strict Regulations in Place In Germany, PTB (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt)1 is the government authority responsible for performing verifications on packaged goods, in accordance to the Verification Act (Eichgestz). A central requirement of the Verification Act is for packaged products to be designed and filled in such a way that they do not appear to contain more than is in the package.

Besides the Verification Act, regulations such as DIN 55540 stipulate specific requirements for the packaging of powdered, granular and grain products, which includes guidelines for designing containers such as plastic cups and outer packaging, for example boxes and tubes. Similarly there are other standards/guidelines and pieces of legislation present for packages containing baked goods or chocolates.

Packaging for all fresh fruit and vegetables sold in the European Union is covered by specific EC marketing standards. Council Regulation (EC) 2200/96 2, with new implementing measures published in Council Regulation (EC) 1580/2007, presents the correct packaging procedures and the permissible special presentation methods.

Similarly, for the US market, FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) is enforcing packaging requirements prescribed in Sec. 403. [21 USC §343] of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).3 In addition, the Federal Trade Commission supervises eco packaging claims made by manufacturers, to ensure that such claims apply to most of the packaging and not only the minor parts of it.

Know all there is to know

Food manufacturers have to constantly be up to date with the packaging regulations that apply to their products. As a food manufacturer or importer, voluntary or involuntary use of deceptive packaging techniques, such as downsizing, slack filling or over-packaging, indented bottoms, extra walls and unnecessary empty spaces will most likely place you at the losing end of the business.

Violations against packaging regulations will cost you a lot in any marketplace. Not necessarily because of fines imposed, but more importantly because of the damage caused by recalls, new packaging production costs and wasted marketing resources. And if your deceiving packaging manages to reach shelves it will also manage to dent your reputation in the eyes of the consumers you'll be disappointing.

If at times it might seem hard to stay on top of all the regulations that apply to your products and their packaging, third party organizations can help you reach full compliance. SGS has the food packaging knowledge and experience to advise you in selecting the most appropriate type of packaging. Our experts can examine your packaging for quality and compliance with applicable legislation before you have them produced.

The SGS packaging services allow you to:

  • Determine the regulations and guidelines which are relevant for assessing your packaging
  • Determine the total volume and the slack fill of packaging using water displacement / mathematical calculations
  • Obtain a test report and an evaluation of results
  • Obtain assistance with developing your food packaging

1 PTB Verification Act and Verification Ordinance 2(EC) No 2200/96 on the common organization of the market in fruit and vegetables 3Section 403 - the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act


Eveline Binder

SGS Institut Fresenius GmbH
t: +49 6128-744-283

About SGS

The SGS Group is the global leader and innovator in inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Founded in 1878, SGS is recognized as the global benchmark in quality and integrity. With 59,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,000 offices and laboratories around the world.