Editor's Note: Time to recharge the brain and refuel the budget

Machinery technology, food safety protocols and capital budget optimization can only be improved with changed outlooks and recharged brain power.

With the food industry now in the grips of a half a billion egg recall, no one knows when or how the source of the contamination will be found. I can’t help but ruminate on other recent product recalls and contamination problems from leaky roofs, nasty things found in lettuce fields and bad batch mixing.

Whether the culprit turns out to be human error, cost cutting or corporate red tape, the crucial thing to learn from these episodes is that food safety and manufacturing operations must always be in continuous improvement mode.

For decades, Food Engineering has surveyed its readers on a number of topics, and in this issue, we’re featuring the 25th annual Packaging Trends Survey. The human factor once again is top of mind in survey responses. Packaging line efficiency is being thwarted by a lack of automation and too much manual labor, Food Engineering readers say. Retailer demand for customized orders and displays containing multiple product types and sizes is often an efficiency drain in the race for line output. Packagers responding to our latest survey are vocal in their needs for better line control, solutions to footprint issues and obtaining more management attention toward improving packaging operations.

While packaging machinery efficiencies have greatly improved over the past two decades, based on our survey findings, it’s time once again for upper management to refuel their packaging machinery budgets. Continued packaging demands from retailers and other customers can no longer be sustained by manual labor.

So whether manufacturing challenges lie in line flexibility, food safety or automation, solutions can only be cultivated by human innovation and leadership. Machinery technology, food safety protocols and capital budget optimization can only be improved with changed outlooks and recharged brain power.

Plant of the Year Call for Entries
If your company has completed or will complete construction of new plant or a major renovation or expansion project during 2010, we want to hear from you. Entries for Food Engineering’s Plant of the Year award are due December 1. All plants projects submitted should produce finished, processed food or beverage products designed for human consumption. For more information, visit or email

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