When people walk into the grocery store in most towns and states, they are presented with a giant rainbow of food products. The display typically follows a pattern; all the fresh food is on the outside of the store’s internal footprint, and then the packaged, more stable products are in the middle. It’s not an accident how this layout is put together. Many folks spend a lot of time in the middle of the store, and then peruse the outside to finish up as that food is the most likely to spoil quickly. Everything is usually shelf-ready. However, no matter what the food, it has to be packaged to even be sold.
Food Safety Depends on Its Packaging
Food packaging is more than just a delivery vehicle; it provides the protection needed to keep the food safe and edible for an extended period beyond its creation. However, while food products are regulated, both locally and nationally, the packaging is only as good as the level of care the food producer applies to it. So, if poor packaging is used, contaminants can get into the food before it is eaten, and bacteria, mold, or similar can grow on the food as well. All of those things can make the food unsafe.
Poor packaging can also allow for temperature change as well as humidity problems. When food is manufactured, it’s either integrated with preservatives to help it last a long time on the shelf at room temperature, or it has to be kept cold. In either case, however, the packaging is needed to keep moisture at a minimum. Otherwise, humidity in the air begins to transfer moisture to the food, which causes it to begin to spoil. This is most evident in how bread and crackers become stale and ultimately grow mold. Even with cold, however, moisture can be a problem. For example, too much moisture in the freezer can ultimately create ice buildup which in turn creates freezer burn. Again, food safety is only as good as how the food is packaged.
Food Producers Try to Avoid Risk With Labeling
Most food manufacturers know their packaging has limitations, so expiration dates are provided on the outside with plenty of time before the food actually goes bad under well-known conditions of duration. As long as this is obvious and clear, the manufacturer can’t be held responsible for consumers not following directions provided for safe consumption. However, while this generic protection tends to be valid, it doesn’t negate irresponsibility in the actual packaging quality.
Cutting Corners is not Uncommon
Why would a food manufacturer use poor packaging? Cost mainly. Everything that is involved with food product selling that doesn’t generate income is a cost. And costs reduce profit. Cutting corners can help maximize profits more than would be possible if the full expense is paid, and that can be enticing to food sellers, especially those making their business on very thin margins.
If you’ve been a victim of a food product that turns out to have gone bad from poor packaging, then you’ll probably need help from a foodborne illness lawyer. Many food companies have the resources to wait out consumer complaints, but they can’t delay requirements to respond in court. A lawyer can help you hold risky food manufacturers responsible, especially if they’ve sold you food that should have been packaged safely.
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