Damage Control: Five Contaminants to Watch for and Remove

Christy Draus, Marketing Manager, Eagle Product Inspection

9 January 2019

There is the “Dirty Dozen” list of contaminants and then there is the “Faulty Five,” which includes the common contaminants of glass, metal, mineral stone, calcified bone and plastic-rubber compounds. Those foreign materials can and do cause recalls of a variety of foods, and with that, damage to a company’s reputation for safety. Eagle’s x-ray systems are designed to reduce the risk of recalls by finding the Faulty Five contaminants and more.

Did you know that physical contaminants are the third leading cause of recalls, in the U.S., behind suspected pathogens and undeclared allergens? In 2017, there were 42 recalls linked to foreign materials. While the term “Dirty Dozen” has been used to define 12 contaminants found in the food supply that pose food safety risks and challenges, we call out the “Faulty Five” common physical contaminants that can be found in food and beverages: glass, calcified bone, metal, rocks/mineral stone and plastic/rubber compounds. Those contaminants were among the many recalls announced last year, in products ranging from ice cream to calzones.

Eagle offers x-ray systems that can find and remove those five contaminants in a range of products, including challenging items like bagged salads or tall rigid containers. Eagle’s advanced x-ray machines and accompanying next-generation software can be used throughout the production/processing stage and across the food and beverage industry.

Learn more about ways that x-ray systems protect products from these five types of foreign bodies:

  1. Glass contaminants. While some package types have moved from glass to plastic formats, glass still remains a popular package type for food and beverages, ranging from infant foods to condiments to oils. Given its nature, glass has inherent risks, with possibility of breakage and contamination. Click here to learn about Eagle’s solutions for reducing the risks associated with glass, including glass-in-glass contamination: https://www.eaglepi.com/capabilities/contaminant-detection/glass/
  1. Calcified bone. If you’re processing meat and poultry, you know that the possibility of contamination with bone fragments is a real and inherent risk. Bone fragments can also be found in a range of other food products, too, given the ways in which raw materials are grown, harvested and received. All of Eagle’s x-ray machines can detect calcified bone down to 2 mm, and some systems have been specially designed for meat and poultry products, with rugged construction to withstand harsh environments. Learn more here: https://www.eaglepi.com/capabilities/contaminant-detection/bone/
  1. Metal fragments. Several recalls, including recent ones, have been tied back to the presence of unintended metal fragments. Metal contamination can happen during processing, with broken or damaged equipment or at other points in the manufacturing and packaging process, such as jewelry and personal effects of line workers, for example. Eagle’s x-ray systems can detect stainless steel and ferrous and non-ferrous materials in a variety of products, and the machines’ effectiveness are not affected by foil or metalized film packaging. X-ray technology is more versatile than metal detection systems, too, because such machines can also find and reject other foreign materials including plastic, stone, bone and more. Learn more about Eagle’s inspection systems for metal detection: https://www.eaglepi.com/capabilities/contaminant-detection/metal/
  1. Rock/mineral stone. Inadvertent contamination with rocks and mineral stones can happen, especially in products that contain raw ingredients that are grown or raised outdoors in fields. X-ray systems can detect small pieces of mineral stone and rock, even in multi-textured foods that can be hard to inspect. Learn about Eagle’s relevant technologies for these foreign objects here: https://www.eaglepi.com/capabilities/contaminant-detection/stone/
  1. Plastic/rubber compounds Vulnerabilities for the contamination of rubber and plastic pieces exist throughout the farm to production/plant chain. By using an x-ray system, including systems equipped with Material Discrimination X-ray (MDX) technology, manufacturers can inspect for plastics in a range of applications, including in bulk and packaged foods with variations in density that can mask such contaminants. Read more about technologies for enhanced detection of plastic and rubber compounds: https://www.eaglepi.com/capabilities/contaminant-detection/plastic-rubber/