Is Corrugated Safe for Hospital Environments?

Gary asks,

We have a customer who is sending their product into a hospital environment inside our corrugated box. The end user, the hospital, is concerned about the absorbency of corrugated playing host to unwanted microbes and potentially transporting them into the hospital. See their message below:

“As you know we package our pulp products in corrugated cardboard boxes.  We are hearing of certain hospitals becoming concerned that cardboard boxes are unhygienic (as they are absorbent and can’t easily be kept clean) and can harbor bugs and should not be brought into clean areas of the hospital.  Do you know of materials that don’t harbor bugs and that could be used to ‘box’ these types of products?”

Our corrugated is food grade safe (CFIA approved) and we were always understanding that the corrugating process adds to the assurance that linerboard and medium do not attract or play host to microbes.

I just recently read an article from Food Safety News (Feb, 2016) that references research available through the CPA regarding the safety of corrugated. The studies performed by FBA and independent 3rd party universities, show that corrugated enters the food stream microbe free. Pathogens cannot survive the high temperatures (180 – 200 degrees F) used in the corrugated manufacturing process. If the manufacture’s process is CFIA approved then the packaging should remain clean throughout the process. I would think that the only potential lapse in protection may occur during the shipping and handling process between the brand owner and the end user, in this case the hospital.

One would think that if the brand owner is providing medical supplies they would have a cleanliness standard that would exceed even the CFIA certification. If they are delivering in their own vehicles you would think that this standard also extends to that portion of the chain of custody. Then once inside the medical facility, one would hope that cleanliness wouldn’t be an issue.

These studies also show that Reusable Plastic Cartons (RPCs) can have a higher risk of microbial organisms (up to 10 million) due to repeated use and probably inadequate or improper sanitizing before and after use.

Here is a link to the reports.

http://www.corrugated.org/Info/PackageCleanliness.aspx

— Ralph

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One Response to “Is Corrugated Safe for Hospital Environments?”

  1. Mark Neely Says:

    Very interesting and helpful article. Thank you, Ralph!

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