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Monday, October 24, 2016

Why Plastic Containers are Good for Beverages

Written by: Goodness Bini-Inonoje

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Food, they say, is life, and the mouth, is the doorway into the body. This stresses on the importance of right food intake, as the consumption of contaminated, unapproved and unwholesome food is a potential threat to life.

A drive through any major city, its suburbs, and even inner lanes within Nigeria depict Nigerians as food loving people, especially the vast number of food items and products sold within the nook and cranny of its large expanse of land.

This growing appetite for food has no doubt also led to a boom in the Nigerian food industry which is estimated to worth over a trillion Naira. According to the association of Fast Food and Confectioners of Nigeria [AFFCON], an umbrella body of Quick service Restaurants [QSR] in Nigeria, just the Fast-food segment of the entire food industry is worth over N250 billion, and still with a huge growth potential.

The industry has grown well in line with the continuing switch by Nigerians from unpackaged and unbranded products to packaged products. The growth in the food industry in Nigeria has evidently been a key contributor to the economy through the creation of employment opportunities and increase in foreign direct investments.

But like any other industrial developmental process, the fast rise and proliferation seen in this industry, which no doubt has bridged the appetite – gap and supplied numerous consumers with a variety of food items, has also had its fair share of backstabbing through the activities of some unscrupulous businessmen and women in Nigeria, with the collaboration of their foreign partners who value monetary gains far above health and consumers safety.

According to the World Health organization [WHO], food safety is a key concern in food production, and it encompasses actions aimed at ensuring that all food is as safe as possible, and it covers handling, processing and product storage in ways that preserve its quality so as to prevent contamination.

Food processing and packaging are two different but critical paths in the determination of how nutritious and safe a food product turns out, it’s seen as the transformation of raw ingredients through physical or chemical means into consumable food in different forms, and keeping same in good condition until it is sold and consumed.

Apart from providing aesthetic appeal, the package of food product also has protective roles, and with technological advancement, consumers have found several of their desired foods come in various forms of packaging over the years and has gained wide spread acceptance.

One segment that is worth examining is the Carbonated Soft Drink [CSD] segment, which undoubtedly has become the most competitive and aggressive in the food industry as a whole. This is a result of the change in the consumer’s lifestyle and their demand for quality, durable and convenient packaging option.
This led to the transition from the use of glassware for beverage packaging to highly versatile PET and Tetrapak designs.

According to the PET Resin Association [PETRA], the association for North America’s producers of PET packages used around the world, PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, and it is hygienic, strong, and resistant to attack by Micro – Organisms.

PET does not biologically degrade, and its safety for food and beverages is recognized by health authorities around the world, making it the most preferred material for packaging many foods and beverages.

For its health concern as a packaging material, the Food and drug Administration [FDA], Health Canada, the European Food safety Authority and other health agencies around the world say – “PET is a biologically inert material that doesn’t react with foods or beverages and it is resistant to attack by micro – organisms, as it has been thoroughly reviewed and approved as safe for contact with foods and drinks.”

Food processing offer consumers a range of products which come in different forms such as nuts, baked foods, canned drinks, carbonated beverages and several others, the Nigerian market has also witnessed this array of products, especially in the CSD segment like La Casera, an example of PET bottles in Nigeria.
La Casera Drink

According to drinkopedia, an online search tool on non – alcoholic beverages, carbonation which is the major factor behind some drinks being tagged as a CSD, leads to the elimination of oxygen, and also acts as a natural preservative, as it inhibits the growth of bacteria, and makes the drink become effervescent.

Knowing therefore the significance of the food industry, and how a slight deviation from adherence to stipulated food quality guidelines could mean a potential health hazard, several regulatory bodies have been established across the world, and they are responsible for ensuring the safety of food for humans. 

In all these, Nigeria was not left behind.

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