When even a single damaged or compromised package could put an entire brand's perception at risk, keeping packages safe and sealed has become an important facet of manufacturing in certain sectors.

While, say, a flashlight can't carry much liability if its packaging is tampered with, a food or drink item could carry harmful mold or bacteria, and an exposed pharmaceutical item could prove to be life-threatening. That important distinction has led to a number of impressive tamper-evident breakthroughs recently in the packaging sphere.

Innovation through compliance

Made for more than setting the customer mind at ease, tamper-resistant packaging is a must for compliance in the consumables industry. Touching everything from cosmetics to pet care to pharmaceuticals, the FDA publishes strict guidelines on what tamper-resistant entails and how it needs to be implemented to stay within the law.

Manufacturers must incorporate these features into any packaging designs or upgrades they consider, making the packaging R&D process compliance-forward by necessity. In turn, this means that the most innovative packaging designers and implementation providers enjoy popularity for perfecting features like bands, barriers and visible indicators.

Tamper-proof as a selling point

While utilitarian by nature, tamper-proof packaging is an easy platform for smart marketing as well. Recently, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) announced their 2016 winners for "Compliance Packaging of the Year," and user-oriented features were a common thread.

From day-divided pill packs that clearly listed a day of the week to prevent confusion to packaging that incorporated physician-oriented size choices and dosing instructions, these designs satisfied regulatory concerns while still illuminating brand features. Particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, these packages help bolster patient confidence and position brands as trustworthy and safe.

Hybridization of package safety

In addition to differentiation from competitors, packaging design in the healthcare sector is also branching into a unique collaboration: smartphone interaction. The HCPC competition Innovative Design winner, for example, was a track-and-trace oriented smartphone app.

The app, called Med-ic, automatically logs patient removal of packaged medicine syringes to prevent accidental overdose or misuse. The system also has site injection log functionality to allow users or caregivers to document injection sites for reporting and diagnosis, adding additional layers of potential customization and interfacing.

In the consumables sector, this interaction holds a great deal of promise as well. NXP, a semiconductor manufacturer in the packaging industry, notes that "smart" features like embedded RFID tags can be used for everything from tracking product freshness and age to unlocking additional marketing components like how-to videos and offers.

Brand authenticity protection

Not all tamper-proof packaging is about keeping contaminants out. Sometimes, it's just as important in keeping sensitive components in.

Counterfeiting isn't just potentially dangerous to the end consumer. For the manufacturer, it's a practice that's a real pain in the bottom line. Packaging that incorporates unique identifiers like serial numbers can help track down misdirected or stolen shipments, notes industry news source Packaging World.

It can also deter would-be counterfeiters with a security-rich packaging solution that costs little on the manufacturer scale, but becomes cost-prohibitive on a smaller, fraudulent scale. When so much of brand strength and perception is balanced on the quality control of an authentic product, an investment in tamper-proof packaging is all but synonymous with a brand insurance policy.

Inevitably, the stakes will rise as freshness, dependability and authenticity become a greater consumer concern and packaging is expected to evolve accordingly. For companies that are already investing in tamper-proof innovation, that leap forward will feel like more of a hop, both financially and in the R&D package design process.