The safety of the consumer has always been paramount and never more so than with foodstuffs where the integrity of the pack is essential in delivering high quality fresh products.

This issue lies at the heart of the BRC/IoP Technical Standard for companies manufacturing and supplying food packaging materials for retailer branded products.

Launched in October 2001, the standard seeks to cover the preparation of packaging for retailer own-branded goods for sale throughout the UK by members of the British Retail Consortium.

The driving force behind this initiative was that for many years there were up to five independent standards against which manufacturers could be judged.

None of these standards were entirely in agreement with each other and, in addition, there were individual retailers’ own standards that were different yet again.

To get the ball rolling, all interested parties were asked to comment and participate in the development of this new standard.

Nevertheless, a good working document was achieved in a relatively short space of time and is now achieving widespread recognition and acceptance from packaging industry and retailers.

The next stage was to ensure that the sys-tem could be universally accepted and trusted so it was agreed that all auditors for the standard should be assessed and accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service.

It is a great credit to UKAS and to the 11 auditing bodies who have satisfied their requirements that this difficult and sophisticated process was accomplished in just 15 months.

The result of this was a presentation last month when accreditation certificates were presented to the successful companies.

Now the retailer can be confident that his packaging is of the highest standard. It is not often that we have good news in the packaging industry but this is some of it!

John Webb-Jenkins is chief executive of the Institute of Packaging.