By Andy Frampton, NOW R&D Department,
NOW Foods goes to great lengths to ensure high quality products by purchasing ingredients from around the world using reputable suppliers and conducting numerous in-house and third party lab tests prior to approval. Another less publicized quality initiative is NOW's commitment to state of the art packaging materials.
Without superior packaging, high quality ingredients would not remain stable throughout the established shelf life. NOW stocks over 200 packaging components, ranging from plastic resin bottles, films, fiber canisters, glass bottles, and more. Each package component has specific attributes to protect NOW's line of 1800 products.
The majority of NOW products are packaged in plastic resins. NOW uses special types of resin, depending on the product and their specific needs. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) is used for items sensitive to light and oxygen. PET provides superior protection against oxygen permeation.
Items susceptible to water degradation are packaged in High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) due to the powerful barrier properties against moisture. Internal tests confirm the effectiveness of HDPE using moisture indicators in high humidity conditions.
NOW uses films for many items that form into bags or packets using heat and pressure. Each film used by NOW contains several layers, creating a synergistic protective barrier.
Although costly, NOW uses amber tinted glass for many items requiring complete protection from light, moisture, and rapid oxidation. Glass has superior protection compared to other package forms, but also costs more to ship and is fragile. NOW’s essential oils and liquid herbal extracts are commonly packaged in amber tinted glass.
A composite canister has recently been added to NOW packaging. This form of packaging is suitable for all kinds of products due to the multi-layered walls and strong body. NOW’s canisters contain paperboard, foil, and plastic layers providing excellent protection from light, oxygen, and moisture. Lecithin and other environmentally sensitive products are ideal for this form of packaging.
NOW is a strong recycling advocate and uses recyclable packaging, such as recycled paperboard and corrugated boxes, whenever possible. Most of the plastics that NOW uses are recyclable. NOW recycles any form of packaging used in operations and uses it for further processing if it meets industry Good Manufacturing Practices.
NOW takes packaging to another level by placing inserts into products with labile properties. NOW was the first company to introduce an Ageless® oxygen packet into products with extremely effective results. Internal tests consistently result in 99% oxygen reduction in PET bottles.
Desiccants are another common insert used for products with moisture sensitivity. The majority of herbal products contain desiccants in order to control the moisture levels until the package is opened.
A stronger moisture control insert is a molecular sieve. Some of NOW probiotics use a molecular sieve, since a moisture-free environment is vital to their survival. Consumers may also find additional inserts like cotton to protect the integrity of tablets and charcoal for those ingredients with strong odors.
Consumer safety is carefully reviewed by NOW and taken very seriously for packaging. Every product produced by NOW contains one or more forms of tamper-evident seals to provide the consumer with extra protection. Tamper-evident seals include hinge guard lids, heat induction and pressure sensitive seals, shrink-wrap, and even stickers. NOW places child-proof caps on all products containing moderate to high levels of iron to avoid accidental poisoning.