By Debby Newslow, President, D. L. Newslow & Associates, Inc.
In association with Kevin Baker, Active Magnetics Research P/L (AMR)
When considering existing and potential foreign material hazards, metal fragments are consistently identified as a concern. Depending on the situation, the potential risk (how significant the outcome) and significance (how likely it is to occur) often results in the identification of a significant hazard that must be controlled through a CCP or at a minimum, through a prerequisite program which includes the use of a metal detector and/or magnet strategically placed in the process. When discussing food safety, foreign material related incidences are actually the most frequent hazards identified. Since these incidents usually affect a limited few, foreign material hazards do not receive the publicity that a pathogenic, bacterial contamination receives which has the potential to harm large numbers of consumers with each incident.
The objective must be to produce a product that is free of any metal fragment contamination. This can be accomplished through the reduction of contamination, risks, and consequences such as: controlling the hazard by eliminating or reducing it to an acceptable level using effective prerequisite programs (PRPs) or by control applied at an identified Critical Control Point; and verification that the PRP or CCP is monitored and confirmed effective through a well-defined food safety, GMP, and Food Safety Management System Internal Audit program.
This article provides a basic foundation for achieving success by controlling metal as a foreign material hazard. Control of metal begins with the control of raw materials by effectively communicating with suppliers through a well-defined, implemented, and on-going supplier management program along with a defined program for magnet testing of ingredients and incoming raw material supplies. This type of program includes metal detectors and magnets designed for specific functions and locations, strategically placed in the process. It also addresses the verification and validation of the equipment by a qualified external company and also verification performed and managed through an effective internal preventive maintenance program.