UK Food Standards Agency Reports 6 Metal-in-Food Problems in 2017
Six warnings of UK food being contaminated with metal fragments were reported by the UK Food Standards Agency in 2017. The food safety warnings ranged from sweets to meat products.
Metal In Food Safety Warnings 2017
Greencore recalled various brands of Chicken and Bacon Caesar Wraps because of concerns that the products contained metal fragments (20 December 2017). Greencore, as precautionary measure, recalled various brands of Chicken and Bacon Caesar Wraps. The products, manufactured by Greencore, were sold in Aldi, Co-op Food and Morrisons retail stores.
Athole Tablet Ltd recalled tablet products because of possible contamination by small pieces of metal (31 August 2017).
William Santus & Co recalled Uncle Joe’s Liquorice & Aniseed Extra Strong Mints (35g tins) as there were concerns that the sweets may have contained small pieces of metal (15 May 2017).
Morrisons recalled Trimmed Beans because of the reported presence of small pieces of metal (20 April 2017).
Quorn Foods Ltd recalled a batch of its frozen Quorn Meat Free Mince because of the presence of small pieces of metal (2 March 2017). The affected product was only on sale at Tesco from 27 February 2017 to 1 March 2017.
Lotus Bakeries UK Ltd recalled Lotus Biscoff Crunchy Biscuit Spread because of small metal contamination concerns (2 March 2017). This product was sold at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda, Waitrose, Ocado and Nisa stores. In addition, batch number 7005109 with ‘best before’ date 5 February 2018 has also been sold through East End Foods.
How Does Metal Get Into Food?
All of the foods listed have been processed and it is during that process that metal can contaminate the product. Food entering a process plant will potentially go through stages of washing, size reduction (e.g. cutting, mashing, slicing), mixing, forming, cooking and packaging. Metal can be introduced from the wear or failure of processing equipment, or through human error. In fact, it is not uncommon for metal to contaminate food. However, it is unusual that metal contaminated food reaches the end consumer.
All food companies use a combination of Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors to separate and detect the metal. When metal contaminated products are found to reach the consumer, it can be concluded that this safety equipment failed.
Reviewing the performance of the Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors on a regular basis is important to ensure that any metal contamination problem is identified and dealt with at the factory. Regular audits will check the integrity of the Magnetic Separators, assessing and recording the magnetic strength and reassessing the location. Audits for Metal Detectors will check the application, assessing detection sensitivities.
Often such audits find that changes in the process or product (including packaging) mean that the performance of the Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors is no longer optimised.
Thankfully, metal in food safety alerts remain relatively infrequent in the UK, although each one causes significant financial and reputation damage to the producer and food retailer.
For more information on preventing Metal Contamination Food Safety Scares, or to arrange a free onsite survey and audit of a particular plant or process, please contact the Bunting team on:
Phone: +44 (0) 1442 875081