AVOIDING FOOD RECALLS
Never underestimate the role of magnetic separators in food recall prevention.
With food safety regulations and best practice standards increasing, the last thing any food producer wants is to have to their product recalled, be it due to the presence of foreign material or extraneous materials, microbial contamination, undeclared allergens, packaging fault, or any other reason.
Between 2010 and 2019, there were at least 101 food recalls due to foreign matter in Australia and 40% of these were due to metal contamination. In 2019, FSIS/USDA alone recalled at least 2,155,723 pounds (977,820 kgs) of product contaminated with metal in the United States – unfortunately this is a 196% increase from 2018. This resulted in huge financial consequences for the companies concerned.
On most occasions, the risk could have been greatly reduced had metal contamination control principles been properly applied.
Food processing companies need to be proactive in removing fine metal contaminants, such as work hardened stainless-steel fines, before they contaminate final product. A food recall can cost millions of dollars in production loss, lost sales, recall management, and brand reputation damage. More importantly, contaminated food can cause injury to consumers.
3 simple steps
There are 3 simple steps you can adopt to reduce your risk and avoid a food recall:
Identify the hazards
The first step to reducing risk of recall is to identify the hazards and areas of risk.
Metal fragments can be introduced to the product steam at all stages of production. Incoming materials typically hold a higher level of contamination however these can be removed by suitable upstream scalping magnets and detection. Further downstream, metal fragments can be a result of processing equipment.
An AMR Risk Assessment & Magnet Validation Report will help you identify areas of your plant where potential for metal fragment contamination may exist.
This report will consider your process, ingredient intakes, processing, and packing locations, product types, existing metal fragment controls, and so on. The report will also provide recommendations for how to reduce risk in each area related to magnetic separation.
This Risk Assessment activity will also determine if your existing magnets are installed correctly and in the right location – failure to do so can leave your product lines without adequate protection.
Explore & implement properly analyzed & proven solutions to control risks
Following your risk analysis, you will then need to explore and compare suitable metal fragment control solutions. Keep in mind that you need to look for more than only gauss strength. Consider factors such as separation efficiency, coverage, cleaning operation, certifications, and sanitary design.
Simply installing magnetic separators is not enough. Following the install of your metal fragment controls, it is vital that they are validated by a qualified magnet validation company at least once annually, and frequently monitored by plant operators. This is essential to ensuring the suitability and viability of the magnetic separator, maintaining control over foreign contaminants, and reducing the risk of a food recall.
Magnets should be cleaned regularly, and record should be kept of collected contaminants. This will help you to establish a ‘normal’ or expected contamination level – if this suddenly spikes, it may be indication that there is a problem or inadequate control further upstream.
A frequent monitoring and cleaning schedule should be implemented for the installed magnetic separators.
AMR are specialists in annual magnet audits and risk assessments. The initial plant visits and magnet testings are carried out by highly-competent technicians with extensive experience in food industry magnetics.
Following the site assessment, an AMR Magnet Validation/Verification Report will be compiled using the collected data. This detailed Report will highlight any areas of risk that may potentially result in contamination of your product and food recall and will help you to further monitor your metal fragment controls.