Announcing Metal Contamination Food Safety Alert
On the 28th July 2018, the UK Food Standards Agency released a food alert announcing ‘Tereos UK recalls Granulated Sugar due to the presence of small metal pieces‘. This is the third report of metal being found in food reaching the consumer in 2018 after six metal contamination alerts in 2017.
Metal enters the food manufacturing process via many different avenues. Metal can be present in ingredients being delivered to a food processing plant and unless removed at source can enter the process and cause significant damage. Equipment failure and wear can also lead to metal contamination and is usually removed with the right combination of magnetic separators and metal detectors.
The source of the metal contamination in the granulated sugar is presently unknown and an investigation is most likely underway. The sugar is sold in the UK by the retailers Iceland, Poundland, and Sainsbury’s and has been recalled. The metal contamination will be costly in terms of direct financial cost and reputation.
Getting Metal Out of Sugar
Removing metal contamination from granulated sugar is commonly achieved using Drawer Filter Magnets and Plate Magnets. Plate Magnets are installed in chutes where the sugar flows over the surface. Due to the small size of the sugar granules Neodymium Rare Earth Plate Magnets are preferable, producing the highest magnetic attractive force to remove small ferrous and magnetically-susceptible work-hardened stainless steel.
Due to the potential sticky nature of the sugar, sleeved Drawer Filter Magnets are often preferred, in an easy-clean design. The Rare Earth Tube Magnet sits tightly inside a fixed stainless steel outer tube. Cleaning forms part of a daily maintenance schedule, with the Tube Magnets being withdrawn from the sleeves to drag and deposit metal contamination in a discharge chute.
Magnetic Separation Audits
Bunting engineers conduct regular Magnetic Separation Audits at many food manufacturing plants. An audit involves the visual and physical inspection of every magnetic separator in a plant to check on the location, suitability integrity (i.e. checking welds and for wear), and magnetic strength (which can deteriorate with excessive heat, weld damage, or if dropped). In April three Magnetic Audits were conducted and highlighted a number of issues that have since been addressed.
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
Other Food Safety Articles
- 3 Magnet Audits Conducted For Food Safety;
- 6 Metal in Food Safety Scares in 2017;
- Fish Cakes Contaminated with Metal;
- 59 Pastry Products Potentially Contaminated with Metal;