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June 7, 2021

Picture this: You go to the grocery store, pick up a package of cookies in the resealable container and check out at the register. You drive home, open the package, take out a cookie, bite in and enjoy the crunchiness in all its glory.   

Did you once ever think about whether that cookie might be stale? Or worse yet, contaminated?   Probably not. Thankfully there are groups and teams in organizations like Sonoco where it’s their responsibility every day to make sure that you can enjoy your cookies (among thousands of other food products) safely.  

Let’s go behind the curtain and learn more about what Sonoco’s Product Safety team does each and every day. We sat down with Product Safety Manager, Cheryl Trease, to learn more about how her team interacts with each function throughout every stage of innovation. 


S: What are Sonoco’s food safety practices?   

C: Sonoco provides the front-line compliance assurances for our food packaging materials and the facilities that produce our products are certified by a certified body that is supported by FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act)


S:  What does the job title “Product Safety” mean?   

C: We provide the necessary guidance to Sonoco in order to make sure we develop and produce safe product for their intended uses. The regulatory nature of Product Safety is a legal spaghetti bowl. I view my job, our team’s job, as keeping the noodles straight so Sonoco meets the safety principles our consumers expect. 


S: What does a day in the life of Product Safety look like?   

C: Mostly we ensure that we meet customer expectations by providing them confirmation we meet regulatory requirements. It also entails working with our development teams to ensure new projects are on target to meet those same regulatory requirements. And the most complex is keeping an eye out towards the next new regulation on a global scale. 


S:  Is the Product Safety team global?    

C: Our team is domestic but 100% remote. We do support global products. This is the most challenging part because regulations are not harmonized and the same across the world. 


S: How are you involved in the engineering or manufacturing process?  

C: We support the engineering/development via material compliance review and approval and serve as Sonoco designated liaison between Sonoco and our certified body. 


S: What has been your favorite project to work on at Sonoco when it comes to food safety?   

C: I really don’t have a favorite. I like to be able to provide solutions to the teams that have regulatory questions or needs. 


S: Do you have a favorite Sonoco made product?   

C: The snack and seal package


S: What is one thing you wish people knew about food safety or product safety?   

C: That just because a material is approved for use for one application does not mean it is okay for all applications. Not all materials are created the same for meeting food safety/compliance regulations. 


Interested in learning more about the Food Safety Modernization Act and how Sonoco addresses concerns? Read more now. 

Kristi Raines