Getting the packaging right – International guide just updated

Man reading labelling on jar

Packaging has come a very long way since its humble beginnings of gourds and clay pots. These days, the world of packaging is much more complex, needing to be safe and sustainable while remaining appealing and functional. An international guide has just been revised to help organisations ensure their packaging meets growing consumer needs.

Packaging must not only conform to legal requirements, it needs to appeal to consumers as well, helping them make informed choices. ISO/IEC Guide 41 Packaging – Recommendations for addressing consumer needs, published jointly by ISO and IEC, provides guidance to product designers, manufacturers, regulators, and others involved in decision making regarding packaging.

Christine Heemskerk, co-convenor of the ISO working group that developed the guide, said the newly revised version features more detailed information on risk assessment, vulnerable consumers’ needs, cost reduction, use of resources, suitability for intended purpose, and recycling.

‘Consumers will directly benefit from industry use of the revised guide, with safer, more appropriate and informative packaging,’ she said.

Fellow Convenor, Sandra Herrera, agrees. ‘ISO/IEC Guide 41 will optimise product packaging by providing international best practice and guidance on everything from ensuring the packaging protects the product effectively to labelling information and environmental impact, such as reuse and recycling.’

ISO/IEC Guide 41:2018 Packaging –Recommendations for addressing consumer needs, was developed by ISO/COPOLCO, the ISO Committee on consumer policy. It is available for purchase on our webshop.


Christine Heemskerk is the Chair of the Consumer and Public Interest Network of BSI, in the UK.

Sandra Herrera is a standards specialist at ICONTEC, in Colombia.


More information about the legal requirements for packaging and labelling

The Ministry for Primary Industries is the regulator labelling and composition requirements of food in New Zeland.

The Commerce Commission is the regulator for product safety and consumer information standards in New Zealand.

Consumer Protection has information about product safety and consumer information standards in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health is the regulator for labelling natural health and supplementary products in New Zealand.


Published in consumer and occupational safety.

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