Easy opening vs closures – putting the hygiene science to the test

In response to competitive industry data, Elopak has completed a detailed study for the Hygienic performance Easy Opening vs closures. With the launch of our Pure-Pak® Imagine and the new Easy Open feature, a competitor claim that cartons without caps (easy opening feature) are not as hygienic as cartons with closures needed to be addressed, and responded to with the correct scientific approach. Therefore, a team of Elopak scientific experts undertook our own study for the Hygienic performance Easy Opening vs closure.

Putting industry claims to the test

“We take claims that reflect on the performance of our products and services very seriously,” explains Gunnar Rysstad, Director System Validation. “Contamination can cause food spoilage and food waste, and in worst case food poisoning- so we take our responsibilities very seriously. Elopak has extensive and very good experience with hygienic performance of both cartons with and without closures, so we decided to put industry data to the test with a new study.”

Working with Gunnar Rysstad to complete the test was Anette Bauer Ellingsen, Senior Food Microbiologist and Marianne Hyggen, Senior Laboratory Engineer. “With our own study it was important to make sure that we analysed the same milk from the same tank and filling machine and tested the hygienic properties of both cartons with the ‘Easy Opening’ feature and cartons with caps,” explains Anette.

Controlled conditions

The test had to be designed to remove all confounding factors to ensure proper comparison between the two cartons. Our customer TINE agreed to host the study, ensuring the same quality milk from the same production batch was filled in all cartons. Filled cartons were immediately transported to the lab in Spikkestad ensuring an un-broken cool chain.

The 5 cartons from each variance were then stored at 6°C and each carton was taken out into room temperature for 30 minutes every working day, opened and poured from, for a total of 18 days. Also included in the study was cartons not previously opened, and not exposed to room temperature.
“A negative control was added for each variant so the results of the handled cartons could be compared with unopened cartons,” adds Marianne.
Microbiological analysis (total plate count) was performed on milk from all cartons.

Conclusive results – no difference between easy opening and closures

“The results show that there is no difference in hygienic performance between cartons with easy opening and a closure,” explains Marianne. “Microbiological results from analysis at fixed intervals revealed no difference in total plate count between easy opening and closure. Results were within the same order of magnitude we would expect despite the natural variances in milks from different herds, farms and countries therefore conclusively giving customers peace of mind to select the best opening feature for their products based on functionality, design and sustainability – rather than concerns about safety and hygiene.”

For more information about the Elopak 2021 study, Hygienic performance Easy Opening vs closure, contact us through this link.