Tag Archives: frozen foods

Alex Kinne, Thermo Fisher Scientific
In the Food Lab

Ensuring Food Safety in Meat Processing Through Foreign Object Detection

By Alex Kinne
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Alex Kinne, Thermo Fisher Scientific

The USDA estimates that foodborne illnesses cost more than $15.6 billion each year. However, biological contamination isn’t the only risk to the safety and quality of food. Food safety can also be compromised by foreign objects at virtually any stage in the production process, from contaminants in raw materials to metal shavings from the wear of equipment on the line, and even from human error. While the risk of foreign object contamination may seem easy to avoid, in 2019 alone the USDA reported 34 food recalls, impacting 17 million pounds of food due to ‘extraneous material’ which can include metal, plastic and even glass.

When FSMA went into effect, the focus shifted to preventing food safety problems, necessitating that food processors implement preventive controls to shift the focus from recovery and quarantine to proactive risk mitigation. Food producers developed Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans focused on identifying potential areas of risk and placement of appropriate inspection equipment at these key locations within the processing line.

Metal detection is the most common detection technology used to find ferrous, non-ferrous, and stainless steel foreign objects in food. In order to increase levels of food safety and better protect brand reputation, food processors need detection technologies that can find increasingly smaller metal foreign objects. Leading retailers are echoing that need and more often stipulate specific detection performance in their codes of practice, which processors must meet in order to sell them product.

As food processors face increased consumer demand and continued price-per-unit pressures, they must meet the challenges of greater throughput demands while concurrently driving out waste to ensure maximum operational efficiencies.

Challenges Inherent in Meat Metal Detection

While some food products are easier to inspect, such as dry, inert products like pasta or grains, metal foreign object detection in meat is particularly challenging. This is due to the high moisture and salt content common in ready-to-eat, frozen and processed, often spicy, meat products that have high “product effect.” Bloody whole muscle cuts can also create high product effect.

The conductive properties of meat can mimic a foreign object and cause metal detectors to incorrectly signal the presence of a physical contaminant even when it is nonexistent. Food metal detectors must be intelligent enough to ignore these signals and recognize them as product effect to avoid false rejection. Otherwise, they can signal metal when it is not present, thus rejecting good product and thereby increasing costs through scrap or re-work.

Equipping for Success

When evaluating metal detection technologies, food processors should request a product test, which allows the processor to see how various options perform for their application. The gold standard is for the food processor to send in samples of their product and provide information about the processing environment so that the companies under consideration can as closely as possible simulate the manufacturing environment. These tests are typically provided at no charge, but care should be taken upfront to fully understand the comprehensiveness of the testing methodologies and reporting.

Among the options to explore are new technologies such as multiscan metal detection, which enables meat processors to achieve a new level of food safety and quality. This technology utilizes five user-adjustable frequencies at once, essentially doing the work of five metal detectors back-to-back in the production line and yielding the highest probability of detecting metal foreign objects in food. When running, multiscan technology allows inspectors to view all the selected frequencies in real time and pull up a report of the last 20 rejects to see what caused them, allowing them to quickly make appropriate adjustments to the production line.

Such innovations are designed for ease of use and to meet even the most rigorous retailer codes of practice. Brands, their retail and wholesale customers, and consumers all benefit from carefully considered, application-specific, food safety inspection.

Ensuring Safety

The food processing industry is necessarily highly regulated. Implementing the right food safety program needs to be a top priority to ensure consumer safety and brand protection. Innovative new approaches address these safety concerns for regulatory requirements and at the same time are designed to support increased productivity and operational efficiency.

Recall

More Than 358 Frozen Foods Recalled Over Listeria Concerns

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Recall

Learn innovative ways to mitigate the threat of Listeria at the Listeria Detection & Control Workshop | May 31–June 1, 2016 | St. Paul, MN | LEARN MORE–UPDATE–May 5, 2016–The CDC has reported that eight people have been infected with Listeria from three states from September 2013 to March 2016. According to an FDA release, whole genome sequencing conducted from a routine product sampling program by the Ohio Department of Agriculture revealed Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) from frozen corn and that it was closely related genetically to seven bacterial isolates from those sickened. It found a similar result from frozen peas, with an Lm isolate closely related genetically to one isolate from one person. “This close genetic relationship provides additional evidence that the people in this outbreak became ill from eating frozen vegetables produced by CRF Frozen Foods,” the release stated.

In March FDA collected environmental samples from Oregon Potato Company (also located in Pasco, WA), which were found to be closely related genetically to seven isolates of sickened people linked to the outbreak. As a result Oregon Potato voluntarily recalled its wholesale onion products. “FDA is working to identify other parts of the relevant supply chain that may have product relating to this outbreak. However, FDA is prohibited by law from releasing publicly certain information about supply chains, which may constitute confidential commercial information,” according to the release.

The agency is trying to determine whether there is a connection between product sample isolates and environmental samples taken. FDA called it a “complex and ongoing investigation”.

–END UPDATE–

Pasco, Washington-based CRF Frozen Foods has expanded a nationwide voluntary recall of its frozen fruits and vegetables over concerns that the products may be contaminated with Listeria. The recall, which also includes products sold in Canada,  encompasses more than 358 consumer products sold under 42 different brands of frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products that were manufactured or processed in CRF’s facility since May 2014. Seven people from at least three states have been sickened and hospitalized due to Listeria. According to an announcement on FDA’s website,  “Some of these illnesses have been linked to consuming CRF-manufactured or processed products. CDC also informed us that, sadly, two of these individuals later died, but that Listeria was not the cause of death in either person.”

CRF suspended operations at its facility in Pasco, Washington on April 25 (following the first voluntary recall) and all affected retailers have been notified.

According to the FDA announcement:

“Products include organic and non-organic broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, corn, edamame, green beans, Italian beans, kale, leeks, lima beans, onions, peas, pepper strips, potatoes, potato medley, root medley, spinach, sweet potatoes, various vegetable medleys, blends, and stir fry packages, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries.”

The full list is available on FDA’s website.