While food containers and packaging are part of our daily lives, most of us are surprisingly unfamiliar with their characteristics or how they are managed. We interviewed DISPEN PAK JAPAN Co., Inc., a packaging manufacturer, on topics such as food safety considerations and certification status related to packaging, and the Company’s future objectives.
Communication Working Group, GFSI Japan Local Group (hereafter “GFSI”): Please introduce your business, including your company’s characteristics and strengths.
DISPEN PAK JAPAN Co., Inc. (hereafter “DPJ”):
Our company was established in 1986 as a joint venture of Kewpie Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Mitsubishi Corporation Packaging Ltd.
“Pakitte” is a portion-sized container for condiments, such as ketchup and mustard used on sausages and corndogs at convenience stores, and jam at hotel breakfasts. Today, the use of Pakitte has spread widely, including hamburger chains, cafés, schools, hospitals, and mail-orders.
The technology behind Pakitte was originally invented in the United States for people who work at heights to one-handedly apply medicine. Japan is now the world’s largest manufacturer, producing 530 million packages in two factories.
Pakitte offers four advantages – it is convenient (easy to use with just one hand for anyone from children to the elderly), it comes in a portion-sized volume, it is hygienic (users do not have to touch the contents), and it’s fun to create decorations and artistic designs on meals by squeezing out two different types of taste at the same time from the packages’ dispensing holes that come in different shapes and sizes.
Recently, we have been producing Pakitte containers not only for food products but also cosmetics and other contents. They are in demand in Japan as well as overseas, and export of Pakitte is growing.
GFSI: Please tell us about the hazard analysis and aspects that require special attention or consideration in terms of food safety and quality issues that are unique to packaging, if any.
DPJ: The slit in the middle of the package, called the “half cut,” is very important. In order for the container to open easily while making sure that it is at a level that does not cause any problems in preserving the content we adjust the depth of the slit on a micron level. If the slit is off even a little, it may break easily in the distribution process, become hard to open, or cause other problems.
In the past we used ink jet printers to print expiration dates. Since a few years ago, however, we are using laser printing technology to color the inner layer of the film. This prevents the food products from coming into contact with ink, the expiration dates from partly or completely getting rubbed off during distribution, as well as the falsification of expiration dates by way of erasing and reprinting them.
We also work with packaging material manufactures regarding food products and their characteristics and package compatibility. For example, when food is exposed to oxygen, it oxidises and spoils. So, in order to control oxygen permeability, we asked a packaging material manufacturer to create three kinds of film (low barrier, high barrier, and super high barrier), and use the most suitable film according to the temperature zone during distribution and characteristics of the content.
We also had our packaging material manufacturers improve their materials to address issues such as degeneration of the packaging materials caused by lemon, and stickers peeling off after coming in contact with oil. In the manufacturing process, we are taking various measures, such as eliminating oxygen by nitrogen substitution, and making the packages’ filling compartments into “clean booths” in order to prevent contamination by microbes, foreign substances, and other contaminants.
GFSI: Please tell us about the GFSI-recognised certification acquisition status for each factory. Also, what led you to work toward acquiring GFSI-recognised certification?
DPJ: HACCP became popular in about 1995. It was around that time that we started to work towards the ISO9001 quality management system standard. After that, we acquired the ISO14001 standard for environmental management, and began implementing it in our initiatives based on the ISO26000 standard for social responsibility. Regarding food safety standards, we acquired ISO22000 certification in 2009, and started to work towards acquiring FSSC22000 in 2012.
Since we already had the foundation based on ISO9001, we were able to achieve FSSC22000 certification by strengthening technical specifications. We obtained FSSC22000 for all of our products in August 2013. We were the third company to acquire the certification within the Kewpie Group, and the first to acquire the certification for all products, which was a great success.
Furthermore, as mentioned above, cooperation with packaging material manufacturers is essential. We are therefore also working to gain their cooperation in order to advance our efforts; we not only organise study groups but also recommend and have the manufacturers acquire FSSC22000 certification.
GFSI: Please tell us, to the extent possible, about how you promoted the acquisition of the GFSI-recognised certification standard, and the difficulties you faced in the process, if any.
DPJ: The biggest difficulty was the vocabulary. There are many special terms as well as English terms written in katakana, such as verification, validity, food safeguards, and vending machines. In order to make them easier to understand for people in the field, we substituted those terms with our own terms when communicating with them.
We emphasise on a daily basis that we should make things easy to understand for everyone, rather than making things complicated.
This has been our philosophy since the establishment of the Minami-Ashigara factory in 1997. As we felt that it is important to have a sound architecture, we made the factory as simple as possible by designing the architecture with consideration to the flow and division of work, and using positive pressure. In addition, we have strived to create an environment where employees can freely talk to their superiors, which is established today as our commonly accepted culture and has contributed to maintaining a high level of quality.
Thanks partly to this culture, we did not face any resistance when introducing FSSC22000. We were able to build a team with one member from each department, and to concentrate on discussions on how to proceed with the initiative for two factories in parallel.
GFSI: Please tell us about the benefits that you experienced as you worked to acquire the GFSI-recognised certification standard.
DPJ: We have about 30 audits annually, which is many. But some companies, in particular foreign companies, exempt us from audits and offer other special arrangements because we have FSSC22000.
In addition, since all of us worked together to implement the initiative, we feel that collaboration among employees has been strengthened. At our company, we have had the philosophy that “one step of 100 people is better than 100 steps of one person.” Communication among employees has been a crucial factor in working towards ISO and FSSC22000 certifications. We would like to continue to cherish our culture and environment that allows for open communication.
GFSI: Please tell us about your development plans and challenges for the future, or how you plan to make use of the current acquisition status.
DPJ: Regarding FSSC22000, as there are more and more items added, we feel that it is becoming similar to ISO9001. As mentioned earlier, we value simplicity. But as information is updated on a daily basis, there is a risk that things get more complicated by using multiple standards. Therefore, we would like to keep items that are likely to be difficult to put into practice, as simple as possible. We will not stop, but would like to evolve and make our methods more effective.
GFSI: Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?
DPJ: As a matter of fact, “Pakitte” is the new brand name that was recently decided upon. We would be delighted if people would become familiar with the new name.
GFSI: Thank you very much for sharing your valuable story.
DISPEN PAK JAPAN Co., Inc. Website: https://www.dpj.co.jp
Head office: 2-5-7 Sengawa-cho, Chofu-shi, Tokyo
Minami-Ashigara Factory: 1255 Wadagahara, Minami-Ashigara-shi, Kanagawa
Factory: 1660-1 Fujiyoshida-shi, Yamanashi
This post was written and contributed by:
Communication Working Group of the GFSI Japan Local Group
Yasuo Takeuchi, Business Design Manager, Future Market Group, Advanced Technology & Business Development Office, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation
Yuriko Shirasu, Assistant Manager, ITOCHU‐SHOKUHIN Co., Ltd., Quality Assurance Division