Could There Be Pieces of Metal In Your Food Packages?

Vacuum pouches

When packaging food, health and safety are a big concern. Food packaging equipment has made the process of preserving food faster, easier, and more economical for both the supplier and the customer. However, our enthusiasm because of the convenience of these form fill seal machines needs to be tempered by consistent checks for contamination.

Anything consumed by the human body can be a source of nourishment, or a source of illness. It only takes one report of a foodbourne illness for the public to panic. Consider the news of the past decade, with reports of E. Coli in bags of fresh spinach, or the Salmonella in jars of peanut butter, or many other cases that only hit the local news stations. As many as 3,000 people die from contracting a foodbourne illness each year. As many as one in six are infected, with about 128,000 requiring hospitalization for treatment.

Are form fill seal machines part of the problem? Not necessarily. It is not that the machine is somehow contributing to more contaminations. It is that the convenience of a form fill seal machine doing the main work may cause some companies to not enforce the necessary sanitation checks.

This is not to say it is done out of maliciousness. It is a simple fact that when a person does a job with their own hands, they have more visibility of what happens at each step of the way. When a machine does the job, that visibility or “eye’s on” the situation disappears unless there is another person watching the work the machine is doing. This scenario is not exactly cost effective; that’s where regular inspections come in.

Another area of concern is those food companies who do not complete an x-ray food inspection after the pouch filing machines have done their job. In the Upton Sinclair novel, The Jungle, slaughterhouse workers sometimes packaged bits of rope, nails, and pieces of rats into the cans of meat sold to the public. While this horrifying image has been dissected and discussed by everyone from Presidents (Roosevelt) to professors, the fact remains that without careful inspection foreign objects can on occasion be packaged up with the food items.

For example, there is the problem of metallic contaminants. A special food metal detector can pick up on the following contaminants: stainless steel; ferrous; and non-ferrous. When it comes to detecting the foreign material in either wet foods or conductive packages, an x-ray inspection has been proven to pick up on as little as 1.5 millimeters or less, whereas a metal detector can only pick up on objects at least 2.5 millimeters.

Food safety is everyone’s concern. Food packaging companies have a distinct responsibility to regularly examine the food products they are sending out into the public. This requires a dedication to frequent maintenance checks of the machines, and the food itself.

After all, it only takes just one public food scare for the whole industry to suffer the consequences. Be smart and proactive. Set up a maintenance schedule for your food packaging machines.

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