This article is written to meet the following sections of the Standards:

BRCGS Food Safety Issue 8None
BRCGS Packaging Issue 65.2 Graphic design and artwork control
BRCGS Agents & Brokers Issue 3
BRCGS Storage & Distribution Issue 4None
FSSC22000 Version 5.1None
IFS Food Version 7None
SQF Edition 9None

Is artwork for just the packaging standard?

Yes and no.

There are no direct requirements in any of the other standards which relate specifically to artwork. So, in theory these requirements only apply to the packaging standard.

However, we would highly recommend that all sites include them in their systems, and here’s why…

  1. Legal labelling is a requirement of all the standards and therefore artwork must be controlled as part of this.
  2. All sites who have printed packaging have to handle artwork, and therefore a robust system is essential to ensure that printed packaging is correct.
  3. If your development process includes the development of packaging; of different sizes and functions, then controlling this system is key to achieving product which meets the specification.

Therefore, if you handle printed packaging or packaging mock-ups – we would strongly recommend that you include the following controls.

Artwork Procedure

A packaging development procedure must be in place which:

  • Identifies the steps in the artwork development process.
  • Identifies the steps in the packaging development process.
  • Details the responsibilities at each step.

The steps in the process must include:

  • A design brief.
  • Artwork proofs and mock-ups.
  • Traceability of equipment and media.

Design brief

The design brief ensures that all parties are clear on:

  • The design.
  • Pack copy text and any logos (including trademarks).
  • Print marks.
  • Cutter guides.
  • Font and colour palettes.
  • Legal requirements.
  • Physical parameters.
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The procedure must outline the verification process of mock-ups, including the final approval process.

Each step in the verification process must be documented, with any amendments required.

Formal and documented approval of the mock-up must be achieved prior to the first production of the packaging. Where approval isn’t received from the customer, there must be evidence that approval has been requested.

It’s acceptable for the final approval to be based on samples from trials or first-off samples from the first production run if requested by the customer.

Artwork control

The procedure must detail how artwork is checked, including:

  • What checks are required.
  • Who is responsible for each check.
  • Maximum timescales for completion in line with the launch plan.
  • Who has the responsibility for final approval.

One of the key checks that must occur, is checking that the artwork meets legal labelling requirements. The person who carries out these checks must be competent in legal labelling.

Where amendments are required, these must be documented.

Final approval of the artwork must occur prior to going to print.

First-off and first deliveries of new printed packaging must be checked against the approval artwork.

Traceability of print equipment and reproduction media

We’re all used to being able to trace the materials we use and the finished product we process, but this requirement takes this one step further. It means that any functional materials that are needed to produce the product accurately, is traceable.

Traceability of all equipment and media associated with a piece of packaging must be in place, to ensure that trials, first production and ongoing production meets the agreed specification and pack copy.

This means that equipment and media must be coded so they can be identified. The traceability coding can be achieved through job codes or references on the media or equipment. Where the traceability code or reference changes throughout the development process or production process, there must be documented traceability links between them – shown in the records.

Where there is a change to the media or equipment, such as an update to a piece of artwork, the traceability code or reference must change, to ensure that the most up-to-date version is always being used.

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Have your say…

One thought on “Why packaging development should be a key element of your system

  1. Nice summary – little message from the packaging sector to the food sector – printers do not check your copy – they check print quality and design (often by number) to your master (by reference issue), its your responsibility to make sure the correct allergens are listed / correct pack size./ correct address etc
    Always ask for a new design version for even a small change, and differing substrates means the same colour ink will vary – so your PET colour print will never match your paper copy.

    Seems obvious ? – all non conformances I have come across sent to packaging suppliers this year.

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