> Foreign Body Contamination – The Importance of Proper Staff Training - The Food Safety Company Foreign Body Contamination – The Importance of Proper Staff Training - The Food Safety Company
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    Monday, 14 November 2016

    Foreign Body Contamination – The Importance of Proper Staff Training

    Foreign bodies, defined as ‘any object or extraneous matter that has entered the body (or item) by accident or design’, are the leading cause of consumer complaints made to food manufacturers, retailers and enforcement authorities.

    One particularly noticeable case of Foreign Body Contamination - Img source: insaneparenting.com
    In the food industry, these bodies can originate either from outside of the food item (known as non-intrinsic or extrinsic bodies), or from within (intrinsic bodies), but both have the potential to cause serious problems. As such, knowing how to effectively prevent such occurrences from taking place, and how to deal with them should the undesirable happen, is vital knowledge to anyone working in the industry.

    Common examples of intrinsic foreign bodies include:
    • Bones in meat, poultry or fish
    • Seeds / pips / stones in fruit

    Common examples of non-intrinsic bodies include:
    • Slugs / bugs, or even frogs (see above) among vegetables, particularly lettuce & cabbage
    • Plastic or metal shavings
    • Hair, fingernails and other organic matter
    • Rings, earrings & other small jewellery
    • Plasters
    • Glass shards / pieces

    Depending on what exactly the foreign body in question is, they can have a wide range of negative effects, encompassing everything from mild annoyance to illness to, in extreme cases, death. When a foreign body complaint is made, it falls to the relevant enforcement authority to decide whether the foreign body resulted in the food being rendered unsafe for human consumption, or if it affects the quality in such a way as to violate rules concerning fair trading. If the answer to either of the aforementioned points is yes, then the manufacturer is in breach of EU Regulation No. 178/2002, which will typically result in legal action and costly product recalls.

    While are a wide range of products available which aim to help you to reduce the likelihood of a foreign body finding its way into food items, and they certainly do have a definite positive impact in this regard, even these systems are far from infallible. Plastics and organic bodies are particularly difficult to detect, and even metal bodies manage to slip past metal detectors and x-rays from time to time.

    Img source: Food Online
    Your front-line-defence against such foreign bodies will be the kitchen staff themselves. Ensuring proper training in how to detect and deal with such problems will drastically reduce the rate at which they occur. Vigilance is key; as previously stated, detection systems aren’t fool-proof and neither is a person, but between the two you should be able to avoid most issues so long as you are adequately prepared, and your staff can be taught to develop the right habits.

    If you do find a foreign body in a food product:
    • Make a record of when, where, how and by whom the body was found
    • Record the product batch number and sources of raw ingredients
    • Avoid handling of both the food item and the foreign body found within
    • Describe in writing the size, shape, colour and material of the foreign object as best as you can
    • Keep the food sample in a sealable container; refrigerate or freeze if required
    • Contact the relevant authority and proceed as they advise

    Sam Bonson

    Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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