IFFA 2019 is putting Food Safety on its hot topics list
Micro-biological contamination, foreign bodies, inadequate labelling, together with violations of limits with regard to controlled and banned ingredients are the most often encountered problems that lead to products recall from the market. In these cases, human negligence is more frequent than technical failure and one solution it will be "to replace manual activity with automated processes as extensively as possible. One example of this is the fully automated portioning and insertion of fillets, steaks and cold cuts into the packaging by means of dispensing units and industrial robots," says Richard Clemens, General Manager of the Food and Packaging Machinery Division of the Association of German Machine and Plant Manufacturers (Verband Deutscher Maschinen und Anlagenbau – VDMA).
Along with that, Hygienic Design for machines, traceability and using current technologies such as metal detectors or X-Ray equipment can increase the rate of food safety.
"Contamination with foreign bodies in meat and sausage products can occur anywhere along the entire production chain. From a broken knife in the cutting room, for instance, or an overlooked screw or sealing gasket during unplanned maintenance or repair work. Other sources of this kind of contamination are material failure and bits of the machinery or plant breaking off as a result of wear. Foreign bodies can be picked up by means of an inspection system with, say, metal detectors or X-ray equipment.
Metal detectors are an efficient and cost-effective way of picking out ferrous and non-ferrous metals, as well as plastics or plastic film containing metallic powder, in both food and packaging. More frequently than metallic foreign bodies, however, it is things like stones, glass, bone or plastics that appear in products. And this is where X-ray technology can be used, as it offers a broad spectrum of tests for almost all types of a foreign body", explained Mr Clemens.
Another challenge for the entire industry is to develop an extensive catalogue of measures capable of reducing if not eliminating food fraud. "Over and above the requirements for self-monitoring outlined above, a universal, digitalised, tamper-proof traceability system needs to be put in place. Furthermore, we need to establish regularly documented assessments of any weak points, together with risk analyses specifically with regard to dangers posed by food fraud. These need to be implemented along the entire value-creation chain from raw material to end product, in conjunction with the appropriate HACCP concepts. This also requires very close cooperation, based on a relationship of trust, with official bodies, testing and certificating bodies, as well as research institutions", added Richard Clemens.
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