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Foreign Objects Carbon in Blown Film Manufacture


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DN_QAMGR

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Posted 09 June 2016 - 09:22 PM

Hi All,

 

Hope all is well!

 

I am a QA Manager for a Blown Film/Extruder for direct contact food packaging. My background is 8 years in R&D/QA for food processing facilities and the last 2 years with food packaging. Over my last 2 years, much has changed at my company. I do have senior management support, but their understanding of a root cause analysis and risk analysis require more educating and understanding.

 

There has been a 0.045% complaints of Black Carbon found in my packaging. Black Carbon, per my management, is charcoal/over baked plastic resin. 

 

After some research, I found that this is inert and is not harmful. The carbon is embedded in the finished bag/sheet and will not release into the product. We have historical data and lab analysis that has proven that there are no harmful side affects if ingested or migrates into the finished products.  

 

Based on my education, experience and knowledge, we should be able to prevent or minimize carbon complaints from occurring. After complaint trend and volume produced, you would be able to win the lottery a couple times before you can find carbon in our bags. 

 

Due to the nature of extruding, the plant and senior management has stood their ground and stated this is apart of the process. 

 

It is very hard for my position to say that "this is apart of our process and we can only minimize but not prevent."

 

I've implemented a few things which has minimize foreign contaminants to be embedded in to the packaging, which are: increase sanitation of equipment, use of better materials, Increase in PM (preventative maintenance), but there is carbon still found.

 

QUESTION

In your knowledge, history or experience, have you dealt with Carbon in Packaging? If so, was it ever eliminated? Would you recommending accepting that it is part of the process and try to minimize? 

 

FOR MY 3rd PARTY AUDITS

As supporting information during the 3rd Party audits, we are taking a firm stance about black carbon being apart of the process and are using as supporting documents that analyze that it is not harmful if ingested or found in food (with lab support and historical data).

 

 Hopefully I was clear about Carbon and my questions. Have a great rest of your week. 

 

 

 

 

 



redfox

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Posted 10 June 2016 - 04:50 AM

Hello DN,

 

Though presumably black carbon dont have issue with food safety, but if I'm you're customer I wont buy you product because it has an negative aesthetic impact on my product. 

 

We been using clear plastic cups on our product and we would reject a cup with black spec on it.

 

Regards,

redfox



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Foodworker

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Posted 16 June 2016 - 07:45 AM

Every blown film producer that I have visited has the same issue with carbon 'clumps' and it is probably the same for most processes where polymer is heated.

 

To eliminate totally would be impossible without some pretty fancy optical detection/sorting equipment so it comes down to evaluating the risks should it occur. 

 

As you say, ingesting it is harmless but as redfox comments there is an aesthetic concern. 

 

The other hazard I would look at depends upon how your film is used by customers. If it is formed into modified atmosphere bags, the clump may form a weak point and allow any gases to escape and air to enter. Again the likelihood of occurrence is low from what you say but the concern should still be included in your hazard analysis. 



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ctzinck

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Posted 16 June 2016 - 06:16 PM

I'm assuming your extruders have filter packs? if so what size? would a smaller size filter help?



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DN_QAMGR

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Posted 16 June 2016 - 06:59 PM

Thank you all for your comments. 

 

Redfox,Foodworker,

 

You have brought a good point about the customer's end use. 

 

We have invested in machinery to properly run ASTM methods for Dart Impact, Elongation and other test. I will perform a risk analysis at an area with black carbon and see if there are quality weak points in the products.

 

 

ctzinck, 

 

All our production lines (extruders) have screen filters prior to flowing into the die. We are currently using 40, 60, 80 mesh sizes. We have researched and tested smaller mesh sizes in our extruder, but the screens are blown out due to pressure, flow rate, screw rotation and other factors.

 

As Foodworker stated, I'm glad to hear that this is a known quality issue in processing blown film/poly bags.

 

I've increased my die cleaning to 60 days and dependent on hours of production times, we clean as needed.

 

At the same time, I've increased changes of screens to every 8 hours. I've minimize the black carbon, but over a period of a couple days, I tend to see specks of black carbon less than 1 mm or even smaller. 

 

Without causing so much down time, I'm starting to lose ideas if this is preventable. 

 

thanks again all, and have a good day!

 

DNQMGR






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