Tip of the Week: Facility Fitness

Get fit with AIB! In July our Tip of the Week series is featuring our Plant Education (P.E.) tips to get your facility in shape. This first week we're featuring tips on physical foreign material detection.

Foreign material can be introduced as a microbiological, physical, or chemical contaminant during production or distribution. Equipment design flaws, structural issues, and employees handling products can lead to a potential product contamination. A well-developed foreign material control program allows the plant to control conditions that could allow these materials to contaminate products.

One of the key elements of the foreign material control program is to address the presence of physical contamination. Foreign material detection devices add an additional level of safety for products at the facility. Reviewing the findings of foreign material detection devices provides important information about what has been introduced and its source. They indicate a failure in a prerequisite program that was designed and implemented to avoid contamination. 

Magnets are limited to ferrous metal and will not capture non-ferrous metals. The more buildup on a magnet, the less effective it becomes. Check magnets for weakness at least once per year.

Sifter screens of 30 mesh are normally used for finely milled products, such as flour. Tailings should be inspected no less than daily and the results documented. Sifters should be disassembled weekly for cleaning and to inspect the screens.

Strainers used in receiving must be inspected before and after the delivery. All strainers should be installed in easily located areas.

X-ray units are used to identify objects other than metal in food products.

Bottle or can washers only remove physical contamination.

Destoners remove foreign material based on weight and density.

It's of little value to have a documented and detailed foreign material control program if employees are not aware of the actions they must take when an event occurs. Far too often, untrained employees do not understand the program and will not see anything wrong with a rejected product. Often untrained employees will place the rejected product back on the production line. Once this happens, it becomes impossible to examine the product and find the reason for the rejection. This places your company at risk for recalls and lawsuits once the product is in the marketplace.

All employees responsible for monitoring a foreign material device must be properly trained. Training programs should include:

  • The purpose of each device and how it functions.
  • A detailed review of the procedures to be conducted on the device.
  • How to properly complete documentation and the significance of this task.
  • The course of action to take if there is a significant finding. Employees must understand who to notify, what to do with the product, and what additional steps must be taken.
  • The documentation that must be maintained, where it's kept during operations, and what to do with it at the end of the shift or production period.
  • The procedure for correcting a mistake made when writing the data in the document. Employees should mark a single line through the error and record the correction and their initials. It is not acceptable to erase or cover up the mistake.

Use this helpful checklist to grade your facility's physical foreign material fitness today!

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