Foreign Material Control

Foreign material render to food adulteration, and hence is concern of food safety and food quality. Foreign material is any extraneous matter, whether of a physical, chemical or biological nature, found in food. Usually foreign bodies make the food unfit for human consumption. It is important to understand what can be foreign material in their processing line. Documenting all the possible foreign material, their root cause, source of entry, their control or preventive measure. Validation and verification of such data become easy and can be good communicable platform that can be used between management and employees.

Need to Control Foreign Material

Foreign matter renders to food adulteration and any incidence of foreign matter harms the consumer, undermines confidence in the brand, arising questions on the quality of food product being manufactured. It is one of the important factor in effective implementation of the company’s food safety program, particularly the Hazard Analysis Critical Control (HACCP) system. Classified on the basis of the level of control a food processor can exercise to eliminate the risk the foreign materials in food.

  • Low Risk: If good control measures have been established, but minor infractions occur.
  • Medium Risk: If some control measures were established, but inconsistencies occur.
  • High Risk: If little or no control was established, major and critical infractions occur.

Sources of foreign Material

Sources of foreign material in the food facility has been concised to five basic sources

  1. Inadvertent from the field (stones, metal, insects, undesirable vegetable matter such as thorns or wood, dirt, or small animals).
  1. Inadvertent resulting from processing and handling (bone, glass, metal, wood, nuts, bolts, screening, cloth, grease, paint chips, rust, and so on).
  2. Materials entering the food during distribution, such as insects, metal, dirt, or stones.
  3. Materials intentionally placed in food (employee sabotage, adulteration).
  4. Miscellaneous materials, such as struvite and other materials in this class

Type of Hazard & its

Type of hazard that are common in food segment are, but not limited to,

  • Glass: Sharp glass contamination often occurs during filling processes in glass containers if a container is accidentally broken. Another source, but less frequent, is light bulbs broken during building maintenance.
  • Metal: Sharp metal objects may include screws and equipment splinters, blades, broken veterinary needles, fragments and clippings of prior processing procedures.
  • Plastics: Soft and hard plastics may come from packaging material of an intermediary production phase.
  • Wood: Wood splinters may have their origin at the farm or may come from handling wooden pallets.
  • Stones: Small stones are common in crops like peas or beans contaminated during harvest.

Control: Controls for such hazard include inspection of raw materials and ingredients, looking for field contaminants, provision of good storage facilities, usage of lamp covers and light protector to avoid bulb breakage and maintenance of effective pest control, development of specifications and controls for all ingredients and components, effective detection and elimination systems for physical hazards, such as metal detectors or magnets to remove metal particles; use of X-ray and low-power microwave systems to detect nonmetallic materials, periodic training of employees engaged with shipping, receiving, storing, handling and equipment maintenance that encompasses the entire food production chain. Pallets coming in contact with processed food of food grade material, exempting employees from taking any accessories such as rings, bands, hairclips, watch, lens, jewelry etc. in the processing section, and to have proper SOPs that need to be maintained and should be trained. Other things that can be included are proper cleaning and maintaining sanitization in and around processing areas.

Detection Technology

  1. Metal detectors: Metal detectors find splinters from machinery, fractions of broken cutters and blades, needles, screws or fragments of clips, jewelry, accessories, and other foreign materials.
  1. X-ray detectors: These respond to metal, stone, bone, hard plastics and Teflon. Both systems can screen the product after the filling procedure. X-ray detectors may find glass pieces that result when a jar or bottle is crushed during malfunction of the packaging line.
  2. Near-field radar response: Foreign bodies are detected in embedding material by transmitting low-power microwaves through the material. The system uses a microwave sensor designed for emulsions and pumpable products. It measures the dielectric properties of the food flow of processing equipment. Foreign materials produce a deviation from the norm, activating a pneumatic rejection unit.

From initial stages only like receiving operations of raw agricultural commodities, inspection and wide range of cleaning steps are involved to remove undesirable materials such as leaves, stones, twigs, mud and different kinds of creatures. Hence it is recommended that processors should design process line and equipment in accordance to the need and type of hazard that can infiltrate food product.

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