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Foreign material devices are a vital part of food production. If a food product including a piece of foreign material is released into the consumer market and there is an issue, it can resonate just as much with consumers as foodborne pathogen contamination. Along with the consequences of a recall, the consumer "word-of-mouth" spread can damage a company’s reputation and sales. Consumers often remember these types of events and the food company behind the issue.
As with all food production, there is always a risk of foreign material contamination. Foreign material is defined as anything that doesn’t belong in the food product. So basically if the ingredient is not listed on the label, it is foreign material. Here are some examples to give you an understanding of how much variety there is of foreign material:
The goal for any food facility is to keep food pure, or unadulterated. Facilities often use foreign material devices to reach this pure food goal.
Magnets remove magnetic metals from incoming ingredients, protect sensitive equipment such as grinding units, and check finished products for metal prior to packaging.
Magnets are grouped in three ways:
Strainers separate foreign material from liquid by allowing the liquid to pass through small openings while blocking items that are larger than the openings.
Strainers will vary in size and location depending on the needs in the process.
Metal detectors will determine if any metal is in the product. The detector will recognize metal and activate a rejection mechanism to remove the metal. Metal detectors should be routinely checked. This is sometimes done by intentionally placing a small (usually round piece of metal) into the product to determine if the detector catches it.
Careful examination of ingredients, machines, production practices, and your habits will improve foreign material control to help you manufacture safe, clean products for the consumer.
Most importantly, these efforts ensure that you are complying with the law.
Foreign material control devices are not perfect, so you must still exercise other preventive controls such as GMPs, preventive maintenance, and employee training for reducing foreign material contamination. We recommend Food Safety Essentials Training for your line workers and personnel training. Our 15 unique lessons allows you to cross train all your workers and reduce training costs.
Thank you for this list of tips on keeping foreign objects out of our consumer products. I agree with you on the importance of metal separators / magnets in our food processing world. I think people underestimate how many metallic particles really end up in our food. Metal is always touching metal during many of the different stages of processing. Transportation, cleaning, sorting - all has its use of metal and a chance for metal particles to make their way into the food. Thank you again for sharing!
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