Gerber plastic baby food containers
Baby Food Puree in Plastic Tubs
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Gerber Defies Consumer Usability.When simple packaging becomes… | by gT Comer
Gerber has been producing baby food for a very long time, taking into consideration dietary needs of infants, and the needs of parents. They have consistently produced a quality product, in near-perfect packaging, trusted throughout much of the world.
Indeed, very little thought was given to the packaging of this product, until recently. Sealed in a small glass jar with a screw-on lid, it contained legible and consistent labeling. It was compact, easy to open, and just about the right serving size for most infants.
Glass jars break though. That was the only problem with the packaging. Everyone knew it, and Gerber spent some time researching the issue to confirm that point. According to David Yates, Senior Vice President for Gerber, “Three years of market research indicate 70% of consumers, for convenience reasons, would prefer to buy baby food packaged in plastic.”
A plastic container for food items such as this are a great alternative, but only if they are designed with a mind towards usability throughout the lifecycle. Leading manufacturers around the world have worked hard to develop and implement easy to use packaging for food and drink, using recyclable plastics.
Ignoring years of research and development, Gerber followed a different path. Their team developed packaging for their product that seemingly ignored some of the most basic rules of consumer usability. Although, it does appear to satisfy the usability needs of retailers.
Retail distributors desire packaging that is easy to handle, stacks nicely on store shelves, and is not easily broken. The new Gerber Baby Food package meets that demand perfectly, while providing a stable storage environment for the contents, and it is recyclable. Usability for the consumer stops there.
The new plastic design comes in a cardboard wrapper surrounding two containers of food. It stacks nicely on store shelves or within a pantry, but is inadequate for one container alone. It is designed to hold two containers, and lacking one of them, it is oftentimes discarded or lost.
The cardboard wrapper is clearly labeled with all data that typically appeared on the glass jar labels. However, the plastic containers are rarely labeled, creating confusion about their contents should they become separated from said wrapper.
Sometimes, the plastic containers display legible markings, defining the contents. As coded values in small print, they are not conducive to quick comprehension. Numerous other codes, dates, and the Gerber phone number appear too. The containers are not usually labeled at all though, or the print is faded or otherwise illegible.
The plastic container is opaque, enabling the consumer to see the general coloration of the product. It is sealed with a foil-type top, and capped with a plastic lid, seemingly for storing and/or transporting any unused contents. This lid does not fit tight though, easily falling off and spilling.
Proudly displaying the Gerber log and promotional comments, the foil-type seal on the plastic container ensures the contents will remain fresh beyond the suggested Sell-By date. It also ensures that one cannot open the container with one hand or sometimes, even two. Oftentimes, an additional implement is required to break into the packaging.
Gerber seriously failed consumers in the design of this packaging. Using the old glass jars, one could easily open the package, while holding a squirming infant. The labeling was always clear and legible. The contents could be re-sealed and stored or transported, without fear of spillage. The new packaging meets none of those basic consumer needs.
This mistake is easily remedied, but over the last 15 years Gerber has ignored consumers, and steadfastly refused to adjust the usability of this packaging. It is disappointing, but not surprising.
The technology to produce a screw-type plastic lids that seal in contents has been in use throughout much of the product world for quite a few decades now. One only needs to look at the typical drink bottle. If designed correctly, the foil seal would not be needed at all, eliminating another source of frustration. Producing a label for this product or at minimum, using legible and print on a plastic container, is another point already addressed by manufacturers all over the world.
In the meantime, it is easy enough to avoid the Gerber Baby Food packaging dilemma. There are alternatives that have not compromised usability and consumer happiness in favor of saving a few bucks on packaging.
BeechNut still packages their product the same way they always have. They are organic too, along with Earth’s Best, to name just a few. Another alternative is to do what many others have already done, and just make and package your own. Gerber is not doing anything special that is not easily reproduced.
This is one of many recent discoveries related to baby products that I hope to write more about. If you enjoyed this story, pass it along. If you agree with it, tell Gerber how simply usability analysis might help them produce better packaging for their product.
Children's vegetable puree: edible or inedible?
/ All materials
GOST not Decree
The tasting of vegetable puree was conducted by specialists who have devoted many years to the development of baby food. Their opinion can be trusted. But we want to warn you: it is impossible to guarantee that the child will like the same puree as the experts (rather, you should rely on your own taste). Much more important is compliance with safety requirements. And most of the samples we tested meet the standards. Most, but not all. nine0003
Let's deal with the quality
Andrey Mosov, head of the expert department of NP Roskontrol, doctor:
“Such characteristics as sweetness, bitterness or “unexpressed taste” are subjective. Parents most often pay attention to the water content of the product. The presence of water in the composition of vegetable puree is not bad for the first feeding. You just need to understand that water is a cheaper raw material than a pumpkin.”
Irina Konokhova, leading expert of NP Roskontrol, doctor:
“Indeed, in most of the tested vegetable purees, the mass fraction of chlorides (i.e. salt) is 0. 2%, and in the Babushkino Lukoshko, Heinz and Semper purees it is 0.3%. Perhaps this is due to the higher natural content of sodium chloride in the feedstock, although it cannot be ruled out that salt was added. However, this intake of salt with complementary foods is acceptable, given the physiological need for sodium in children. The permissible mass fraction of chlorides in children's vegetable puree is 0.6%, and this figure is not exceeded in the tested samples. nine0016
How about sterility?
Let's start with the main thing: all samples meet the requirements of industrial sterility. Pesticides were not found in any of the samples, and all samples meet the standards in terms of nitrate content.
In addition, the puree was checked for 5-hydroxymethyl furfural content . It was not found in any of the samples.
All preservatives and sweeteners are prohibited in baby food. We checked the puree for the presence of sorbate, benzoate, sulfur dioxide (these are preservatives) and determined the mass concentration of sweeteners. Parents can be calm: no preservatives or sweeteners were found in the samples. nine0003
One in the jar, another on the label
Andrey Mosov, head of the expert department of NP Roskontrol, doctor:
in pumpkin puree should be 3.6% (in boiled pumpkin - 4.6%).
Summing up and drawing conclusions
Roskontrol experts noted that the manufacturer of puree Semper misleads the consumer about the presence of sugar in the composition. A mark "Bebivita" does not correspond to the actual product name - it is indicated in small print on the back of the label ("Complementary food product - mashed pumpkin and potatoes").
Puree “Spelyonok” has the inscription “fortified with vitamin C” illegally placed: the actual mass fraction of ascorbic acid in this sample is four times less than indicated in the label. Plus, on all samples, except for Bebivita puree, information about the nutritional value in terms of carbohydrate content is distorted. nine0003
August 27, 2014
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Plastic tableware in baby food and harm from it
The choice of dishes today is huge! Glass, faience, ceramic, enamelled. Very often, parents prefer plastic dishes. This is facilitated by the fact that plastic dishes do not break, as well as a huge number of different shapes, sizes and colors of all colors of the rainbow...
But is everything so rosy?
Plastic is a relatively new material. However, scientists have already proven that some chemicals in such dishes, as well as packaging materials, can be hazardous to health. One such substance is bisphenol A.
Unfortunately, bisphenol is present in most plastic products today. And the studies conducted are disappointing: there is a definite relationship between the intake of bisphenol in the body and conditions such as hyperactivity, reproductive disorders, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular pathology. nine0003
Another harmful component of plastic dishes and packaging is phthalates. These are derivatives of orthophthalic acid, which give plastic products strength and flexibility.
Accumulating in the human body, they have a toxic effect on the liver, kidneys, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems. The association of phtholates with bronchial asthma, infertility and cancer is suggested.
It is up to you to choose plastic dishes, taking into account this knowledge. If you do not want to give up bright and comfortable plastic, then follow a number of recommendations for choosing and using such dishes. nine0003
Buy children's tableware from well-known brands that specialize in children's supplies. Be sure to pay attention to the presence of a quality certificate and the marking on the packaging - the number in the triangle of arrows.
Marking1 — polyethylene terephthalate
DescriptionThis is food grade plastic used to make bottles for drinks. It is not recommended to use it for hot foods. And in general, products with this marking are intended for single use
Marking2 - high density and low pressure polyethylene
DescriptionApproved for food contact
Marking3 — PVC
Marking4 - low density and high pressure polyethylene
DescriptionThis material is used for packaging, for example, in the form of plastic bags familiar to us
Marking5 - polypropylene
DescriptionThis material is very resistant to high and low temperatures and is actively used in the production of cookware
Marking6 - polystyrene
Marking7 - other plastics
Plastic products with numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 are relatively safe when used correctly. But from the purchase of products labeled 3, 6 and 7 refuse without a doubt, as they are the most dangerous to health. nine0003
Be sure to pay attention to the smell of polymer dishes. If it is quite strong, or the products in such dishes acquire an uncharacteristic chemical smell for them - do not use such dishes!
Do not use plastic utensils when heating food in the microwave. Indeed, under the influence of heat, the risk of release of toxic bisphenol from plastic increases significantly. As a last resort, you can use dishes marked "microwave safe". This inscription indicates that the dishes have been tested by a special committee for quality control. nine0003
Do not use plastic utensils for a long time. Its maximum term of use is five years. And if there are cracks or scratches on the dishes, get rid of them ruthlessly.
Do not freeze food in plastic containers. The reason is the same - under the influence of low temperature, plastic can crack, from which hazardous chemicals will be released.