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Lab recommendations in the U.S. for Plastic Contamination Detection

plastic physical contamination foreign body detection complaint x-ray technology plastic bags

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#1 sbarzee

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 03:00 AM

Can anyone recommend a laboratory in the U.S. that can help identify the source of foreign objects such as plastic bags? Also, can anyone recommend a type of x-ray machine or detection device that can be put on a manufacturing line as is a metal detector, and reliably detect blastic bag contamination. We have had three different complaints this year for various plastic bag contamination events, two of which were from our process, so I'm looking for a long term solution. We can't use a sieve because we need the finished product to contain chunks of fruit, so we don't want to sieve out the fruit chunks.

 

Any suggestions are helpful.


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#2 BrummyJim

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Posted 28 October 2015 - 11:43 AM

Do you know how this contamination happens? What size are the contaminants? 

 

In my experience (decanting fruit and compote for desserts) the problem is often caused by the cutting blades being blunt or the operators using poor technique. However this is based on a manual process which may not be applicable to your process.

 

Here in the UK we have organisations such as Campden and Leatherhead that can identify the source of contaminants. There probably are some similar organisations near you. As for detection, it will depend on the sizes.


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#3 sbarzee

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Posted 29 October 2015 - 04:03 AM

Do you know how this contamination happens? What size are the contaminants? 

 

In my experience (decanting fruit and compote for desserts) the problem is often caused by the cutting blades being blunt or the operators using poor technique. However this is based on a manual process which may not be applicable to your process.

 

Here in the UK we have organisations such as Campden and Leatherhead that can identify the source of contaminants. There probably are some similar organisations near you. As for detection, it will depend on the sizes.

 

Thank you BrummyJim. Size is about 8 x 3 centimeters and 8 x 0.5 cm's respectively for two of the complaints. We manually feed ingredients into a large blender, so I assume that the plastic is frozen to the ingredients, or accidentally sliced off and poured into the blender with the ingredients. It's hard to imagine how it can make it through the pumps and pipes and such, but regardless, it's getting in there, and it would be really great if there were a detection step that could identify it with consistent reliability, (at least as reliable as a metal detector). The operators do change blades daily. Why is it that a blunt blade increases the risk of plastic contamination?


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#4 Tony-C

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Posted 29 October 2015 - 05:57 AM

Hi Sbarzee,

 

I would ask suppliers to change from a clear to a colored bag (blue?/foil?) so that any loose plastic is easily identified to help reduce the amount of incidents regardless of whether you find a suitable detector.

 

Regards,

 

Tony


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#5 BrummyJim

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Posted 29 October 2015 - 09:07 AM

Hi Sbarzee,

 

A blunt cutting blade would cause the bag to tear rather than cut, which has the potential to leave pieces. However, Tony's suggestion makes good sense. If the bag material is detectable, use a metal detector. Many of the foil based bags are metal detectable down to quite small pieces. Check with your supplier.


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#6 qalearner

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Posted 29 October 2015 - 06:37 PM

We had consistent plastic contamination at one site. There was no type of detector that would work, just relying on visual observations from workers. One tiny piece of glove coming down the line and everything on hold. Really hurt us, but workers had to wear gloves and even though they were blue or green we couldn't stop them from tearing or ripping. 

 

Not all materials can go into a foil or metal detectable bag. I can't imagine the cost!!


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#7 sbarzee

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Posted 29 October 2015 - 08:16 PM

Yeah, one of the pieces of plastic that was found was a colored bag, so that's not going to solve the problem. I was hoping there was a detection device out there. Thank you for the suggestions though.


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#8 Tony-C

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Posted 30 October 2015 - 06:12 AM

Yeah, one of the pieces of plastic that was found was a colored bag, so that's not going to solve the problem. I was hoping there was a detection device out there. Thank you for the suggestions though.

 

Coloured bags will assist in reducing the number of incidents, I also think making the relevant staff aware of the complaints hopefully encourage them to be more diligent when opening the bags and decanting.

 

There are also plug style bags which do not require you to cut the bag open but are more of a sterility risk and probably more expensive:

 

Attached File  bag inbox beverage.jpg   29.76KB   1 downloads

 

Regards,

 

Tony


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