EH Booths has recalled various prepared vegetable products due to the presence of small pieces of metal, reports the UK Food Standards Agency. The recalled products include Diced Red Onion; Butternut Squash and Red Onion Soup Mix, Diced White Onions, Minestrone Soup Mix and Leek and Potato Soup Mix. The UK Food Standards Agency declares that ‘the presence of sharp metal makes this product unsafe to eat and presents a safety risk’. The ‘metal contaminated vegetable products’ recall is the first reported by the UK Agency in 2019.
Booths is a chain of high-end supermarkets in Northern England, UK and is said to be the ‘Waitrose of the North’. The company sets a high standard is terms of the food they supply and this product recall will damage consumer confidence.
Source of Metal Contamination
Metal can be introduced into a food process at many stages. Metal can be introduced during the transportation of the raw vegetables and then introduced into the processing plant. Equipment failure and wear can also lead to metal contamination and is usually removed with the right combination of magnetic separators and metal detectors.
Sharp blades are used when cutting and dicing vegetables. The blades wear over time and can also be seriously damaged by the presence of other contamination (e.g. a metal bolt, stone, ceramic, etc). The source of the metal contaminating the Booths vegetable products is presently unknown.
Protection and Prevention
The right combination of magnetic separators and metal detectors ensures that any metal contamination is identified and removed before any food product reaches the consumer. We recommend that this metal contamination protection is annually checked. For a magnetic separator, this means checking that the magnetic strength, magnet integrity, cleaning frequency and location. Metal detector checks often focus on the sensitivity, ensuring that the system is set-up to identify a specific size and type of metal. Food processing companies have such annual audits as part of their quality management system. Often that audit is undertaken by an outside company, such as the supplier of the magnetic separators and metal detectors.
Proactive metal contamination management ensures that all food reaching the consumer is metal-free and safe. This latest metal contaminated vegetable products alert may have been prevented.
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