Canadian Packaging

Corrugated Shipping Containers study on cleanliness

By Canadian Packaging staff   

Food Safety Corrugated Canadian Corrugated and Containerboard Association CCCA Corrugated Packaging Allianc Corrugated Shipping Containers Food Safety Authority of Ireland Haley & Aldrich New South Wales Food Authority U.S. Food and Drug Administration University of California-Davis University of Guelph

Worried about how clean those containers are? Don't be. All 100% of corrugated shipping containers tested met acceptable sanitation levels.

BRAMPTON, ON—Testing and analysis conducted by the University of California-Davis and toxicology experts Haley & Aldrich investigating the cleanliness of corrugated shipping containers confirmed that all corrugated containers tested met acceptable sanitation levels.

The testing was conducted on 720 swab samples taken from containers from six different corrugated manufacturers in the U.S. northwest, California and Florida. The corrugated container industry requested the third-party testing to confirm that corrugated containers provided for food packaging meet acceptable sanitation criteria at the point of use.

Speaking on her analysis of corrugated, Haley & Aldrich senior toxicologist, microbiologist and regulatory compliance specialist Maryann Sanders says that “one hundred percent of the samples evaluated were below the sanitation levels of 1000 colony forming units (CFU) per swab for the organisms tested.”

The 1000 CFU per swab threshold used by the study was defined by Dr. Warriner from the University of Guelph, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, and the New South Wales Food Authority. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not have guidelines for packaging bacterial levels.


“The single-use approach for corrugated containers minimizes the potential for contamination. After they are used, corrugated containers are returned to the paper mill for recycling. The recycling process greatly reduces bacterial loading,” Corrugated Packaging Alliance executive director Dennis Colley.

Canadian Connection  
This follows a study from the University of Guelph late last year that indicated sanitation concerns with one of the alternative shipping methods—reusable plastic containers—whereby surface testing of these containers found high levels of bacteria.

As the U.S. study notes, recycling corrugated at the current Canadian national rate, estimated at 85 per cent, greatly reduces bacterial loading.

The Canadian Corrugated and Containerboard Association (CCCA) leads by advancing the competitiveness of the Canadian corrugated and containerboard industry; by embracing sustainability in all its forms (environmentally responsible, economically viable, socially desirable); by protecting the health and safety of its stakeholders; and to communicate this to customers, governments and the public at large. CCCA members include containerboard mill members, corrugated converter members, associate members and affiliated associations.

For more information on the Canadian corrugated industry, visit

Image: Escherichia coli: Scanning electron micrograph of Escherichia coli, grown in culture and adhered to a cover slip. Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIHNIAID.


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