US company Ampacet has developed molecular tracers that allow manufacturers to monitor flexible and rigid cosmetics plastic packaging - at any stage in the supply chain - to help resolve security, counterfeiting, quality, liability and other issues.
Ampacet a global supplier of custom colour, special effect and specialty additive masterbatches for the plastics industry, said manufacturers can use the tracers as a deterrent by flagging their presence on packaging.
AmpaTrace molecular tracers provide distinct signatures to Ampacet's masterbatches of materials by varying the type, proportion and concentration of special compounds used in packaging material, which can be detected using standard laboratory tools. The technology is aimed at packaging in the cosmetic sector as well as that of food and beverage.
"Manufacturers can apply AmpaTrace identifiers alone or as part of a multi-level traceability system in conjunction with barcodes, digital tags, product taggants and other elements," said Rich Novomesky, a spokesperson for Ampacet.
"It can be used for many trace and authentication purposes. For example, it can help identify counterfeit products and, in litigation, it can help identify the source of ingredients in a package." he added.
The need for technologies to help distinguish counterfeit drugs from their genuine counterparts was brought into focus by an investigative report published in the open-access health journal PloS Medicine in March, which suggested that up to 15 per cent of all drugs sold worldwide - worth of $35 billion (€25bn) - are fakes.
The tracers can also aid quality by validating that a package contains the right Ampacet colourants or additives at the level specified.
Ampacet says it can tailor AmpaTrace molecular signatures to the needs of its customers. These tracers are then added to the color and additive masterbatches used by these manufacturers. The company also provides analytical services to identify the molecular tracer in a package, if needed.
The molecular compound used in AmpaTrace meets US Food & Drug Administration regulations on contact with food and does not affect the performance or appearance of the packaging.
Meanwhile, Ampacet has also been working on a desiccant additive for polyethylene film that protects packaging from moisture penetration, according to a report from UK-based packaging consultancy Pira.
The additive reacts with and binds water vapour as it enters a film, protecting products from moisture. Ampacet says the stable compound is intended for use in translucent and opaque films manufactured from low density and linear-low-density polyethylene.