Every year, more than 20 billion closures are produced for glass jars in Europe. Of these, around 3.5 billion are used by manufacturers for oily and fatty food products. Until recently, there was no other alternative to closures with a seal made of PVC.

Plasticizers need to be added to make PVC supple. But health risks could not be safely excluded from any of the substances. Indeed, the EU adopted regulations to limit transfer of plasticizers into food. However, limit values always assume that only a certain quantity of a food is consumed. In practice, this can be quite different.

In the last few years, repeatedly severe levels of contamination through plasticizers has been found in oily and fatty foods. Baby porridge, pesto, pasta sauces and tuna in oil, for example, were affected.

Since oils and fats promote migration into the filling it is extremely difficult for manufacturers involved in this to comply with the migration limits laid down in Europe. In view of the quantities produced annually, manufacturers are at great risk of running into conflict with the determinations.

While crown corks are almost exclusively PVC-free nowadays, it is only recently that jar closures have come up for review. Pano, the German closure manufacturer, has been providing impetus with the world's first PVC-free twist-off lug cap, Pano BLUESEAL®. The seal is made from Provalin®, a material based on thermoplastic elastomers, which remains supple without the need for plasticizers. Thanks to Pano BLUESEAL®, compliance with all migration regulations is easily achievable, even with small packs and unfavourable general conditions.

Increasing numbers of food manufacturers are now focusing on the PVC-free closure. Dittmann, the German deli brand, was there from the start and, as a result, played a large role in developing Pano BLUESEAL®. German organic brands such as Andechser in the yoghurt sector, Zwergenwiese, Bruno Fischer, Tartex and Isana equally use the closures nowadays, followed by producers from Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey.

The Chinese have also recognised the value of the PVC-free BLUESEAL® closures. Lee Kum Kee, a specialist in Chinese sauces, was the first Chinese company to accept costs involved in switching.

Pano assists interested manufacturers in changing from conventional closures to Pano BLUESEAL®. Similar to conventional twist-off lug caps, Pano BLUESEAL® is equally suitable for hot and cold filling, pasteurisation and sterilisation, is also available with and without buttons and can be processed in all steam vacuum sealing machines. It is also available in every requested varnish and print finish. To differentiate Pano BLUESEAL® from previous closures, the sealing compound has been coloured blue.

Recognising a PVC-free and plasticizer-free product on the supermarket shelf from its external appearance, is quite likely to be a key factor, particularly for health- and environmentally conscious consumers. For this reason, Pano is offering to put a PVC-free label on the closure for its customers. Or alternatively, it would also be possible to mark the jar label. What is key here is that the consumer immediately knows: He is in safe hands here.

Becoming increasingly more popular: Jar closures without PVC and plasticizers

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