Skip to main content

Report from Professor David McDowell, Emeritus Professor of Food Studies at the Ulster University completed and available.

The European Paper Packaging Alliance’s (EPPA) members innovate and invest to offer sustainable, circular, renewable and recyclable packaging solutions for Europe’s modern food economy. EPPA fully support the EU’s aim to reduce plastics and fossil-based resources, achieve climate-neutrality and sustain healthy ecosystems.  EPPA also supports the use of the Waste Hierarchy to achieve the best environmental outcomes, using holistic life cycle thinking.

At the beginning of 2020, EPPA asked Professor David McDowell, Emeritus Professor of Food Studies at the Ulster University, to conduct a review of the food hygiene challenges of replacing single use food service ware with reusable food service items. The report has now been completed and is available.

It found that the transfer of food-borne disease remains a clear and present hazard to consumers and that  “there are greater risks of cross contamination within “circular” reuse systems, than in the current “linear” single use systems.”

The report indeed reviewed the risks of increased food-borne disease associated with any move to the wider use of reusable food service ware and systems in the absence of improved understanding and hygienic practices. Because reuse systems are inherently more complex than single use systems due to multi-location cleaning, sanitation, storage and transport, they lead to greater risks of cross contamination.

Professor McDowell noted that banning or reducing the use of food service disposables, in the absence of radical significant and unprecedented changes in good hygiene practice, will lead to greater persistence and circulation of food-borne pathogens within the human food chain, and increased risks of human food-borne illness in our community.