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COVID-19 Update: USDA, FDA Underscore Current Epidemiologic and Scientific Information Indicating No Transmission of COVID-19 Through Food or Food Packaging

To view a PDF of this article, click here. To view this article on the FDA website, click here.

The following is attributed to Acting USDA Secretary Kevin Shea and Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D

After more than a year since the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak was declared a global health emergency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to underscore that there is no credible evidence of food or food packaging associated with or as a likely source of viral transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing COVID-19.

Our confidence in the safety of the U.S. food supply remains steadfast. Consumers should be reassured that we continue to believe, based on our understanding of currently available reliable scientific information, and supported by overwhelming international scientific consensus, that the foods they eat and food packaging they touch are highly unlikely to spread SARS-CoV-2.

It’s particularly important to note that COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is spread from person to person, unlike foodborne or gastrointestinal viruses, such as norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food. While there are relatively few reports of the virus being detected on food and packaging, most studies focus primarily on the detection of the virus’ genetic fingerprint rather than evidence of transmission of virus resulting in human infection. Given that the number of virus particles that could be theoretically picked up by touching a surface would be very small and the amount needed for infection via oral inhalation would be very high, the chances of infection by touching the surface of food packaging or eating food is considered to be extremely low.

The USDA and the FDA are sharing this update based upon the best available information from scientific bodies across the globe, including a continued international consensus that the risk is exceedingly low for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans via food and food packaging. For example, a recent opinion from the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods (ICMSF), stated: “Despite the billions of meals and food packages handled since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to date there has not been any evidence that food, food packaging or food handling is a source or important transmission route for SARS-CoV-2 resulting in COVID-19.” Additional analyses from other countries agree.

In addition, considering the more than 100 million cases of COVID-19, we have not seen epidemiological evidence of food or food packaging as the source of SARS-CoV-2 transmission to humans. Furthermore, transmission has not been attributed to food products or packaging through national and international surveillance systems. Food business operations continue to produce a steady supply of safe food following current Good Manufacturing Practices and preventive controls, focusing on good hygiene practices and keeping workers safe.

Based on the scientific information that continues to be made available over the course of the pandemic, the USDA and FDA continue to be confident in the safety of the food available to American consumers and exported to international customers.

General Converting Leverages Quality and Automation with GlobalVision

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"[With GlobalVision], we can minimize defects, and ensure our customers a quality carton"

-Mike Harper, Pressroom Manager, General Converting

Founded in 1982, General Converting. (GCI) grew from a small, family-owned business to one of Illinois’ leading folding carton manufacturers. What began decades ago with a two-color press, a small die cutter, and a gluer has now grown to a full-service printer composed of over 60 employees, many of whom have been with the company for over a decade. The company currently occupies a 122,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility in Bolingbrook, IL, and serves a variety of industries ranging from pharmaceutical and consumer goods to automotive packaging.

With candy, confections, and food packaging accounting for roughly 70% of our business, GCI places a big importance on having the latest technology and equipment to meet and exceed their customers’ needs. As management has a strong belief in buying the best materials and technology available, their commitment to quality, and customer retention, remains very high. Their philosophy is to thoroughly understand the needs and requirements of each customer while operating in the most cost-effective way possible.

Production speed creates the potential for errors

Part of what makes General Converting so successful is its ability to meet customer deadlines at rapid speeds. With printing equipment that can produce 18,000 sheets per hour, the printing department at GCI has its hands full when it comes to ensuring high-quality press sheets are being produced. At those speeds, there are several variables that a pressman has to keep an eye on when it comes to quality control.

One issue before implementing GlobalVision was that the press personnel were having difficulty catching errors due to the speed in which sheets were being produced. Some sheets contained up to 60 cartons, making it very difficult for the pressman to manually inspect every carton while simultaneously operating the press. As General Converting can produce up to 150,000 sheets in a standard shift, that level of production meant the company had to look for a better way to control their quality control process. Keeping aligned with their mission to invest in the best technology possible, GCI set out to find quality control software to aid press personnel in detecting errors at rapid speed.

A quality system that goes beyond proofing

GlobalVision was selected as a means of ensuring that General Converting was giving their staff the tools they need to provide customers with the best possible products. The company chose GlobalVision over competing quality control systems due to the fact that it could be used in other departments aside from the pressroom, particularly on the front-end. Their goal was to find a tool that could help press personnel pick up on the small, fine details that can easily be overlooked by the human eye.

With GlobalVision, GCI’s sheets can be quickly inspected to check for smashes, hickeys, and content errors. These are errors that can usually cause the inability to read instructions or ingredients on the packaging, leading to missed defects in the pressroom. In terms of cost, any issues can be caught immediately, avoiding the need for further inspection downstream. GlobalVision has helped eliminate lost time and materials.

“Even though GCI’s procedure is to proofread every job before going to production, [GlobalVision] has resulted in at least 50% time-saved proofreading on the press versus visually inspecting the sheets. The more sheets there are, the more time savings we can observe.”

- Dave Mickiewicz, Sales Manager, General Converting

Along with time and cost savings in prepress and production, General Converting has been able to use GlobalVision as a sales tool. According to Sales Manager, Dave Mickiewicz, the sales team at GCI uses its quality control system as a way to secure customers. From pharmaceuticals to food packaging, having GlobalVision on-site helps put customers at ease and makes them more confident in the supplier they are choosing.

The GlobalVision process

General Converting has been using GlobalVision in its production process for around 2 years. The company recently installed the software in their prepress department with the goal of getting the press personnel to start scanning in sheets as soon as possible to build a library of digital files, making the inspection process even more streamlined.

GlobalVision is first used in the prepress department where the customer file is compared to the prepress ready file. The platform is also used during the prepress stage to ensure that no errors were introduced during prepress revisions. Once the file is approved, it is sent to plate making, and finally into production. The press operator is now ready to print the first article. This printed piece is scanned through the GlobalVision Print Inspection system and compared back to the customer approved file.

Final results

With GlobalVision’s Quality Control systems, General Converting has been able to further its position as a leader in print technology and equipment. The company’s continuous expansion can be attributed to its commitment to customers, quality control, and personnel. By choosing GlobalVision to automate its proofing process, General Converting has experienced both cost and time savings while gaining a useful sales tool. Overall, the decision to invest in automation technology has resulted in significant benefits for both General Converting. and its customer base.

GCI Partners with BOBST to Boost Customer Offering Further

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In November 2019, BOBST visited GCI's facility to explore their capabilities and learn about what makes them the premier choice in folding carton packaging.

How BOBST has helped General Converting to boost its incredible customer offering even further

Every company in a service industry says they put the customer first, but only some truly live and breathe that philosophy. General Converting is one of those. The company – which has grown from three people with a single press in 1982 to 65 employees working in 122,000 sq. ft. of space filled with state-of-the-art equipment today – is known for not letting anything get in the way of its ability to respond to its customers. David Mickiewicz, the Sales Manager at GCI who has just celebrated his 20th year at the company, is the embodiment of this philosophy.

“We have a responsibility to produce a high-quality product that exceeds our customers’ demands and performs on their equipment day in and day out,” he says.

“And the foundation of that starts with our fantastic people. Nobody has titles internally here – we don’t want titles to get in the way of getting the job done.  We work as a family, with genuine partnership and teamwork. We are all fully bought into the company ethos and we all truly care about our customers. Schedules change constantly and emergencies happen daily and we are set up to respond quickly and efficiently. The biggest reason clients come to GCI is for peace of mind – they know that our packaging will be on time, perform well on their equipment and have consistent quality from run to run.”

Quality from the start 

GCI operates in the folding carton industry predominantly on behalf of confectionary and food companies, but also has a hand in other industries including electronics, cosmetics, automotive and pharmaceutical. It has the highest level of SQF (Safe Quality Food) Certification available, achieving a perfect score of 100. The company has offset printing equipment with capabilities to print up to 8 colors plus aqueous coating or 7 colors plus inline UV coating.

“We believe in building quality into our products from the start which, as well as having the best people, means having the best materials and equipment available,” says David. A key source of equipment for GCI is BOBST, one of the world’s leading suppliers of substrate processing, printing and converting equipment and services for the folding carton industry (as well as the label, flexible packaging and corrugated industries).

BOBST and GCI have enjoyed a partnership for even longer than David’s tenure at the company. “When I began my career with GCI in 1999, the owner of our company, Bob Ruebenson always talked about how reliable our BOBST equipment was and I can attest that 20 years later that still holds true,” he says. “Having three CER 102s gave us the flexibility to interchange jobs between machines if one were to experience an issue, which is rare, and meant we had minimal downtime.”

Taking die cutting and gluing to the next level

Sometimes thriving companies can be victims of their own success. One of the biggest challenges for GCI since adding new presses a few years ago, was a backlog in die cutting. The presses were printing consistently at 18,000 sheets per hour, which well outpaced the die cutting equipment.  “As we experienced a yearly growth in 2018 of 20% – our largest ever – this became a situation we needed to remedy asap,” says David. “We chose to go with BOBST again due to the speeds that could be achieved in both production and make ready, longevity of the equipment, and excellent service and support.” 

The company decided to purchase a MASTERFOLD 110 A3 – the world’s most productive folder-gluer – and a MASTERCUT 106 PER, the most highly automated and ergonomic die cutter on the market.

MASTERFOLD 110 A3 produces straight-line, auto-bottom and 4 corner boxes at the highest speeds possible in the industry, enabling a drastic increase in GCI’s output. The machine includes SPEEDWAVE 3, the fastest way to run crash-lock boxes, reducing the company’s set-up times on auto-bottoms, reducing set-up times through reduced tooling, and streamlining their new operator training workflow.

The MASTERFOLD line includes EASYFEEDER 4 and the CARTONPACK 4 automated packer. CARTONPACK 4 is reducing an operator’s repeat set-up by half by physically moving elements of the machine into place.

Meanwhile, MASTERCUT 106 PER​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ is a top of the range machine, delivering unmatched productivity thanks to fast, uninterrupted production and exceptionally short set-up times, while also providing superb quality of the finished product. MATIC allows the operator to save 25% to 30% in make-ready times. When a repeat job is recalled, the machine sets itself automatically. MASTERCUT achieves a high percentage of jobs running at full speed thanks to the Power Register system, which virtually eliminates feeder stops because of registration errors, allowing customers to benefit from the maximum running speed of 11,000 sheets per hour.

So, how have the new machines worked out for David and his team? “Adding the new machines has really helped to reduce the previous backlog,” he says. “We have seen increased speeds in both our die cutting and gluing departments, allowing us to respond to customer’s demands quicker and help us to become even more flexible. We have always been known in the industry for our quick turn times, but this has allowed us to respond even faster to customer’s ever-changing demands with the utmost quality. We couldn’t be happier.”


To view a PDF of the Press Release, click here.

General Converting, a premier folding carton manufacturer located in Bolingbrook, IL, is pleased to announce the addition of GlobalVision technology to their state of the art 7-color and 8-color Heidelberg presses. This software reads and compares the printed sheet to the customer approved pdf while checking for color differences, spelling errors, registration issues, missing text and ensures barcode readability.

How GlobalVision works

With GlobalVision, differences on your documents, artwork and packaging files will be identified. Compare content at different stages of the file-creation workflow to detect and eliminate errors. With Graphics Inspection Mode, for example, GlobalVision overlays one version on top of the other and goes pixel by pixel to find every difference. You can navigate through all of the differences and generate a report of your inspection for approval or to send with your proofs.

What GlobalVision can do for your business

Protect your business and brand equity by catching errors on packaging components as early as possible. GlobalVision delivers reliable end-to-end quality control that maximizes efficiency by removing the need for time-consuming and inaccurate manual checks. The end result is pristine packaging on store shelves that gets to market quicker.

PRESS RELEASE: Recertification to SQF Level 3

To view a PDF of this Press Release, click here.

General Converting, a premier folding carton manufacturer located in Bolingbrook, IL, is pleased to announce its recertification to SQF Level 3. Safe Quality Foods Program (SQF) is a comprehensive implementation of safety and quality management systems, including HACCP and ISO based food safety programs. At the conclusion of the two day audit by Intertek, GCI received an “Excellent” score of 97%, which reflects the commitment and dedication of GCI employees.

A few comments that the auditor expressed across the two days that we believe are worth repeating:

  • “The people that I have interviewed here have been very easy to work, very open and honest. They     are willing to answer questions without hesitation.”
  • “This is a great plant that is very clean.”
  • “This is a really great facility with really great people. SQF is recognized by retailers and food service providers around the world."

The SQF Code Level 2 and 3 requirements are benchmarked food safety standards to the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). GFSI is a collaboration of the world’s leading food safety experts representing a broad range of participants in the supply chain, from primary producer to retailer.

We invite you to learn how our SQF Level 3 certification can take your packaging to the next level! Please visit our website at or call us at 630-378-9800 to learn more.