Breaking News on Confectionery & Biscuit Processing

Contamination detection needs to improve to appease retailers, says Mettler-Toledo

Post a comment

By Oliver Nieburg+

Last updated on 07-Aug-2014 at 08:54 GMT

Retailers placing tougher safety demands on manufacturers; confectioners must step up their game to comply, says Mettler-Toledo.
Retailers placing tougher safety demands on manufacturers; confectioners must step up their game to comply, says Mettler-Toledo.

Inspection system features like reject confirmation systems and locked reject bins can help confectionery manufacturers stay abreast of the exacting safety demands of big retailers, says Mettler-Toledo.

“Standards are evolving all the time and retailers are becoming more demanding,” Neil Giles, communications manager for Mettler-Toledo’s Product Inspection Division told ConfectioneryNews.

“Retailers just like everybody else are concerned with the wellbeing of the consumer. Some retailers are even creating their own standards.”

Failsafe measures

UK retailers such as Marks & Spencer and Tesco have introduced standards that go beyond auditing body frameworks set by the British Retail Consortium, International Food Standard, Safe Quality Food Institute and International Organization for Standardization.

Retailers and auditing bodies are demanding manufacturers create fail safe systems to ensure any physical contaminants such as metal pieces have definitely been removed.

Giles said that confectioners needed to ensure they had reject confirmation systems to verify that a detected contaminated product had been effectively removed from the production line and that the correct product had entered a reject bin.

He said that smaller confectioners needed reject confirmation systems to enter the big retailers.

“It could be the case that some manufacturers don’t have reject confirmation systems. Most of them have them in place already, but there are always new demands coming along.”

Reject confirmation systems provide extra protection from contaminants, says Mettler-Toledo

Locked reject bins

Giles added that he had seen confectionery plants where reject bins were unlocked. “There’s nothing to stop an inexperienced operator from putting the contaminated product back on to the production line.”

Confectioners must ensure these bins are locked, he said. The Mettler-Toledo man continued that manufacturers should choose detection systems that stop the conveyer and halt production when there is a low pneumatic air supply, otherwise there would not be enough air to remove a contaminated product.

Giles said that demonstrating due diligence would be crucial in the event of a product recall. “They need to prove they have done all they possibly can to prevent contamination.”

Scale of the problem

Physical contamination from plastic or metal pieces in the confectionery industry is quite rare.

In the UK, there were 1,600 food recalls in 2013 compared to 1,500 the prior year, according to data from the Food Standards Agency (FSA). 51 of the recalls in 2013 related to confectionery products

Most of the recalls were due to microbiological incidents such as salmonella risk. There were only around 100 overall cases of physical contamination from sources such as plastic or metal pieces.

However, any contamination can be costly. Last year, Nestlé was forced to recall four varieties of Kit Kat Chunky bars across nine countries after plastic pieces were found in products. Only last week , Mondelez Australia recalled batches of its Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy Beanies chocolate bar due to plastic contamination.

How does contamination occur?

In the confectionery industry there two main phases where physical contamination can occur: from raw materials and through the manufacturing process.

Raw materials such as cocoa and sugar may contain contaminants and need to be screened before entering the production space.

During production, pieces of metal from machines are liable to break off and enter the product cycle - for example shards of wire from an enrobing machine or a detached mixing blade.

“The more a product is made up of processed ingredients, the greater the risk of contamination taking place,” said Giles. He gave the example of a box of chocolate each with a different filling.

He urged manufacturers to identify control points to detect contaminants through a Hazards Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, a framework used to pinpoint where hazards may occur.

“If you don’t identify that metal piece, it could get broken into smaller pieces or damage other processing equipment,” said Giles.

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Get FREE access to authoritative breaking news, videos, podcasts, webinars and white papers. SUBSCRIBE

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Related products

Related suppliers

Key Industry Events


Access all events listing

Our events, Events from partners...

Live Supplier Webinars

Your future starts at Cargill's T for Trends
Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate
All supplier webinars