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Meeting international food safety standards in Canada

By using metal detectable plastics, food processors can minimize the risk of product contamination


Canada has a reputation for being in the forefront of developing food safety control and regulation. Even so, the development of global food safety has seen the need for many food processing companies to expand their food safety thinking.

One of the areas that is expanding rapidly is that of contaminant minimization. Contaminants can take three main forms. The better-known form is microbial contamination, in which bacteria and viruses can get into food and cause illness or death. A second type of contamination is the introduction of dangerous chemicals. These can take the form of cleaning materials that are accidentally left in pipework, or chemicals used deliberately to trick ingredient buyers into thinking that the products meet quality standards of freshness (i.e. Sudan dye in spices) or nutritional minimums (i.e. melamine in milk). The third contaminant group consists of the various types of physical objects that can accidentally or even deliberately get into food.

Hair, rubber, metals or even glass objects have been known to find their way into food and drink. Food companies have introduced policies to exclude many of these with hair coverings to reduce hairs in food. A glass policy will exclude all forms of glass by replacing things like glass dials with clear plastic. Metals are in constant irreplaceable use, but should equipment break, the metal detectors will exclude any pieces of significance.

Detecting plastics

The issue of plastics has presented a problem for food producers because plastics were invisible to metal detectors, yet many plastic tools and pieces of equipment are essential to the food process.

So let me introduce you to the world’s leading supplier of metal detectable hygiene products for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Atesco, which has been appointed by Detectamet as their distributor in Canada, is able to offer a full range of tools and equipment that are made using a special plastic which can be “seen” by metal detection systems.

Companies working to comply with the global food safety requirements found in commercial contracts and in government regulations use these products to reduce the risk of producing contaminated food.

Modern food industries apply the principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) management systems in an effort to eradicate or control this threat. Metal detectors are more and more frequently installed to check the finished products for metal contamination. From a wish that plastics could be as easily discovered came the fulfilment of the dream with the first pens made of a metal detectable plastic.

Necessary tools

By replacing “ordinary” plastics with Detectamet detectable plastics, the invisible pen or scraper becomes visible. The risk of pieces from lost equipment being discovered by a consumer opening and eating the product is greatly reduced because fragments of the products made from these materials are detected and rejected by standard in-process metal detection and X-Ray equipment.

For 10 years Detectamet has developed an unrivalled range of these necessary products, tools and accessories that offer peace of mind to food production companies.  A pen, for example is essential in the food processing industry, and if you cannot ban it from being used then the answer is to specify the use of a pen made from metal detectable plastics. The same principle can be applied to many more tools in the Detectamet range such as markers, earplugs, labels, scrapers, mixers, brushes, facemasks and containers.

Designed to protect consumers, these products are cost-effective, functional and ergonomically designed. The plastic is safe and approved for food contact. All the products are tested and meet current legislation regarding food contact, and are supplied with a Certificate of Conformity. The products are tested by internationally recognised UKAS Accredited Laboratories.

Detectamet’s range includes: metal detectable products, stainless steel and aluminium products (stationary and utensils), metal detection and X-ray detection test pieces (one of the most up-to-date ranges in the world), personal protective equipment and detectable engineering products.

The development of this range has been encouraged by the company’s ability to meet special needs and respond to requests for solutions to previously unrecognised challenges. Three years ago a food manufacturer asked Detectamet to make a stopwatch and a calculator that were metal detectable. By fulfilling this request Detectamet became the first and still the only company to manufacture metal detectable calculators and stopwatches.

The European experience has been a major influence on food safety expectations in the Global food market, and Detectamet’s worldwide commitment is reinforced by the services of a network of selected local and regional distributors such as the recently appointed Polish company Delker.

The world’s leading multinational food manufacturers specify the risk minimization methods at head office. At a local level food companies can take advantage of these tried and tested products through the selected distributors in their own country.

With Detectamet’s appointment of Atesco Industrial Hygiene Limited, Canadian food companies have another point of access to world-class food safety systems with all the advantages of a quality local service. As new detectable products are added to the unique Detectamet range, Atesco will be able to offer them to Canadian producers who are recognized for their quality food. In the past few months at least eight new products have been launched, from FFP3 dust masks to new stirrers and marker pens.

Detectamet and Atesco believe that food safety risk reduction can be achieved at the minimum of cost by carefully specifying the most up-to-date detectable products.

Peter Adamski, DVM, is managing director, Atesco Industrial Hygiene Limited. Contact him at [email protected], (604) 496-2004, or visit www.atescoindustrialhygiene.com. For more information from Detectamet contact Angela Musson at [email protected], +44 (0) 1759 304 200, or visit www.detectamet.co.uk

FEATURED PHOTO: Just some of the detectable products from Detectamet.