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How to deal with metal contamination issue in pre-packed potatoes?


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#1 aps

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:21 PM

Hi all

I have a problem and I am open to advice.

I am working with pre pack potatoes at present and we supply one of the top retailers with our product.

Situation: Just lately we have been having issues with metal in packs or machinery loosing a bolt here and there. Our latest incident was a 6 inch log piece of metal fell off our packing machines where we never noticed and it got packed and got found in store.

Our customer was pretty cheesed which is understandable. Although any of the incidents are not food safety but more brand protection. Our warning was that if we have another incident of metal we will be enforced to install metal detection at a cost of half a million with the lines we will have to install on.

Because my background is bakery and meat i am used to using metal detection.

Because this is produce metal detection has not been used.

I suppose what i am asking for advice on is

  • Why does produce not use MD like other food manufacturing.
  • How do I convince my customer we do not want to go MD as this is what the exec want due to cost....
Look forward to your comments




Thanks




#2 john123

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 04:02 PM

I'm new to the industry and my experience thus far has been very limited. That said, we are SQF Certified Level 2 and have other audit certificates under our belt, we process dehydrated vegetables 3rd party for distribution to the bigger companies as well.

Our HACCP program details that there will be post-run inspections of equipment, captured on the post-run sanitation, and employees are trained to look for missing bolts or wear issues from the equipment we use. Beyond that, much of our product runs through sizing screens when being milled which helps eliminate foreign material larger than the product granulation. Beyond that, every product we produce runs through a metal detector. We've identified metal contamination to be a problem in our industry, either already in the product we receive or the chance it can come off of our equipment, and established the metal detector and a monitoring program to be our critical control point to reduce and eliminate the hazard.

Frankly, and this could again be my lack of experience, but I'm shocked that your company has been allowed to process a finished product without any sort of metal control program. While you're right that a 6in piece of metal is a quality issue, losing a bolt "here and there" is for sure a food safety issue. That phrase "here and there" suggests it's happening with a regularity that would be unexcusable in any industry. Until you establish some sort of program to control metal (post-run inspections by trained individuals, for example), I see no defense you can put up there and I see no way to start convincing them you don't need MD.



#3 Charles.C

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 10:27 PM

Dear aps,

I sympathise but I fear that you are kidding yourselves if you think this is not a food safety issue.

It appears that yr present manual control system for prevention of physical contamination of the product has failed for reason XYZ. Its repair is the immediately necessary corrective step.
If repair is not feasible, I suggest you investigate options within the used MD business. A lot of companies have gone out of business over the last 10 years. :whistle:

Rgds / Charles.C


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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#4 Alan Johnson

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 01:55 PM

Hi, it's not unusual to have metal detectors on pre-packed potatoes in the UK. I would tend to steer clear of the 2nd hand market, they tend to be bought dirt cheap with little or no history of performance or reliability and sold on at significant profit. Furthermore, the volumes you are looking at it is unlikely you will be able to source one model with the correct specification leading to potential support and performance issues. Given your production environment is not that challenging it may be you could source lower environmentally spec'd machines not the IP56/69 being food industry standard, which could result in lower investment costs and still provide the level of cover that you require.

Best regards

Alan


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#5 Blunden

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 03:17 PM

£500,000 for metal detectors seems a bit steep.
Price does depend on size of your packs and wether you need conveyors as well so you would need a quote.
I have been told that a ball park figure for a basic machine would be more likely to be in the £10,000 bracket, so do you have 50 packing lines?
Even if you have several packing lines could you merge them into fewer and metal detect at the very end.

Do Produce Packers reckon to control contaminants before packing during any sort/wash process so don't think they need MD after packing?

If it's a relatively frequent occurance then you are going to feel the wroth of your customer sooner rather than later. Can you tighten your maintenance regime?



#6 Charles.C

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 06:24 PM

Hi, it's not unusual to have metal detectors on pre-packed potatoes in the UK. I would tend to steer clear of the 2nd hand market, they tend to be bought dirt cheap with little or no history of performance or reliability and sold on at significant profit. Furthermore, the volumes you are looking at it is unlikely you will be able to source one model with the correct specification leading to potential support and performance issues. Given your production environment is not that challenging it may be you could source lower environmentally spec'd machines not the IP56/69 being food industry standard, which could result in lower investment costs and still provide the level of cover that you require.

Best regards

Alan


Dear Alan,

I totally agree that purchasing 2nd hand units blind would be foolhardy. Similar comment for new ones also. I certainly hope aps can acquire new machines however IMEX meagre budgets / blinkered "etc" can sometimes leave little choice. If the latter (and perhaps the former also in some aspects) I can offer a few thoughts to minimise the risk - (a) Properly assess yr own technical / operational requirements (b) do not trust advertising brochures without validation, especially if no-name brands involved © Obtain a 3rd party assessment prior to purchase, (d) ensure any interested product has a repair capability in yr local vicinity (e) Read the purchasing agreement before signing.

Admittedly if 50 units are indeed involved, © might well be prohibitive cost. Additionally an order of such size would presumably offer a considerable leverage if purchasing new items (bit like the Dreamliner?).

Frankly, I think the OP's immediate problems are rather more fundamental than requiring purchase of a MD. However from a purely QA POV, i can only praise MDs for their capabilities in preventing processing / maintenance blunders.

Rgds / Charles.C

Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#7 williamw

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 11:08 PM

It sounds like you have a PM problem. I am not in the produce industry and we do have metal detectors in place but our control of metal (and other machinery rated issues) includes not on metal detection but a daily pre-op and post-op (and shift change when we run 2 shifts) inspection of the equipment by the operator with supervisor verification. The operator has a rather detailed checklist focused on potential wear points, fasteners and similar items that could find there way into a product. In addition every two weeks our maintenance department performs a more detailed inspection of the equipment for potential contamination and other food safety risk. We rotate the person doing the check and the areas covered so we spread the work out over time. For our facility the total checklist is about 60 pages with 15-20 items per page. The goal of this is to fix things before they become a food safety --or product -- risk.

The problem with a post-op only inspection is what to you do when you find a missing part? You now have a full days production run you have to hold, open, inspect, and repackage to find the missing the metal. That is one of the reasons for our pre-op, if we are missing a "non-essential" fastener at the start of the shift we document it and note that we decided to run without it, but when we get to the post-op we know it is not in the product from that day because we documented that it was not in place to begin with.



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#8 HACCP Mentor

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 04:34 AM

Any type of metal contamination is definitely a food safety issue. Any good metal control program first starts with prevention rather than detection. You need to stop the metal contamination happening in the first place. My first step would be to implement a suitable preventative maintenance program with adequate monitoring. To strengthen your program you can then look at detection and removal equipment including magnets, metal detectors, sieves, visual, xray etc.



#9 QSDA

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 11:41 AM

Hi

Not in the produce industry but I would have thought that roller conveyors often used would have separation to remove small metal inclusions such as nuts and bolt, could you use this as a 'sieving' process to justify no metal detection, bit of lateral thinking,



#10 Jeff H.

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 02:11 PM

I can't speak to the UK rules and regs, but I'm in the metal detector business (a manufacturer) and cost of units depends on several factors.

You will no doubt have an aperture requirement, and remember that the larger the aperture, the lower your overall sensitivity will be. This pertains to aperture height and not width, by the way.

If you have a specific sensitivity requirement, which by the sounds of it you don't, one needs to be established. If you are concerned with finding small nuts and bolts, washers, etc., you can safely estimate an SS316 requirement of 4.0 - 5.0mm. Any 'average' metal detector produced at this point in time will detect 4.0-5.0mm SS316 with a reasonable aperture size.

A 6" piece of metal will have a magnetic signature the size of a truck, even if its stainless. If its ferrous, its the size of a house.

If my company was to address your issue based on the above, I'd say you'd be somewhere in the $10,000 - $12,000 range including a conveyor and reject device. If you're looking for a unit to find 1.0mm Fe, 1.5nFe, and 2.0SS316, you're looking somewhere in the range of $20,000 to $25,000 per unit, new, with all the bells and whistles.

Something I tell my clients (having been onsite and actually discovered metal in their product while doing inspections/calibrations) is that the cost of a metal detector is insignificant compared to the cost of a lawsuit.

Sadly, many customers don't see metal detection as a necessity until after something bad has happened.


Feel free to contact me if you like - I won't try to sell you a detector - we don't sell into the EU market as the costs of shipping units overseas are too high.


Jeff H.






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