In the toughest periods of Finland’s history, wood was commonly used as an ingredient in bread. Far from delicious apparently, but it was food – and shows how pure our fresh fibres are.
“Fresh fibres from Northern European forests are Metsä Board’s main raw material. Board is made mostly of pulp, and then moisture, pigments, fillers and binders. Every component is carefully selected and tested to ensure the safety of our products. For example, all Metsä Board’s and Metsä Fibre’s mills have ISO 22000 food safety certification,” says Katja Tuomola
, Metsä Board’s product safety manager.
Fulfilling all the necessary food safety criteria requires extensive work, as they change from one continent and country to the next. “A product might be considered oven-safe in one country but not in another, for example,” Tuomola explains.
There’s a global team at Metsä Board that works with product safety. They systematically follow the relevant global product-safety concerns and react accordingly, and, also attend trainings to keep their knowledge up to date. Hot topics include food-contact material regulations in the EU, the USA and the APAC area, chemical regulations such as REACH, and biocidal products regulations.
Online monitoring, laboratories and questionnaires
When researching new products, compliance work starts together with the chemical manufacturer well before test drives. “An occupational physician checks that the chemical is safe for workers to handle, and environmental managers verify that it’s safe for the environment. Each mill also has a product safety team that checks the raw materials used in their boards.”
There is very tight control over the whole process: wood procurement, pulp and board manufacturing and water treatment. This is all handled by Metsä Group, which makes Metsä Board unique – the whole value network is within one company and safety can be monitored internally from the forest to the customer.
Safety is also included in manufacturing, with high-tech online quality controls and laboratory tests conducted, for example, on microbiological purity. “At the headquarters we do our best to support the mills with global documentation according to legislation,” says Tuomola.
In addition, Metsä Board has a technology centre where internal control and further analysis with state-of-the-art equipment is undertaken. “An example of the depth of this analysis is their measurement of the amount of mineral oils present. It’s the same as searching for a tablespoon of sugar spread over a 7,000-square metre full-size soccer field.”
A big part of the product safety work involves audits and providing up-to-date information and documentation to answer customer questions. “Audits with suppliers and sub-contractors include their processes and handling of chemicals and hygiene. Customer questions can be about allergens or the board’s suitability for a specific end-use – these are just examples from some of the 3,000 questions we receive annually”, Tuomola concludes.
Read more about product safety at Metsä Board:Further proof of our paperboards' safetyProtecting the food throughout the value chain