The manufacturing of any product requires raw materials. Raw material refers to any unprocessed material that a facility uses to produce goods. However, when these materials are contaminated, the safety of the entire product is at risk.
To avoid this problem, you need a strong raw material contamination management system. Implementing this guarantees the safety of your workers, materials, and products.
As technology evolves, raw material contamination detection and management become more efficient. X-ray inspection systems are one way to detect contaminated items and remove defective products. However, there are many other methods of contamination management. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about managing contamination and what solutions are available.
Incoming Raw Material Testing and Inspection
All raw materials that enter the facility should go through consistent and thorough quality checks. Contamination management is the foundation of high-quality products.
It all begins with the right raw materials. No matter what you produce, you must source the highest-grade materials to ensure a top-quality product. This also makes your product more consistent and reduces the risk of contamination from the start.
The materials should go through incoming quality control testing when they reach your facility. For every shipment, you should test a sample for endotoxin, moisture, and harmful contaminants. All materials are different, but you can test for several common contaminants, including:
- Enteric organisms
While inspection starts with the arrival of raw materials, it doesn’t end there. Contamination management must be a priority throughout the entire production and distribution process.
Hygiene and Sanitation
Good hygiene and sanitation practices for your facility and workers keep your product clean. Enforcing a personal hygiene program is a recommended strategy for maintaining good hygiene among your workers. For example, you can implement a strict protocol for hand-washing, personal care, and glove-wearing.
If employees are sick, they should avoid all contact with raw materials and limit exposure to others as much as possible. To enforce these policies, implement training programs and regular audits.
All stages of production should include a sanitation protocol to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. With a sanitary equipment design, you prioritize the safety and cleanliness of your product.
Raw materials require careful attention to temperature control. For example, in food processing, meat remains safe at temperatures under 40°F. Exposing it to higher temperatures for extended periods jeopardizes the safety of consuming it. Similarly, your facility should keep dairy products below 40°F as well.
You must monitor the temperature of your facility and all storage areas. Keeping raw materials at unsafe temperatures increases the risk of bacteria and mold growth.
In addition to controlling the temperature at your facility, you must monitor the temperature of the truck the material travels in. If your facility exposes material to unsafe temperatures, inspect it thoroughly for bacteria growth and other contaminants.
Segregation and Separation
Organization is vital in raw material contamination management. If you don’t properly separate different foods and products from each other, you risk cross-contamination. Different products have different needs, and each one requires an environment tailored to them.
Your facility must segregate all raw poultry, meat, and seafood from other products. Additionally, all products require secure seals. To make this practice easier, some facilities use color-coding strategies so workers can quickly identify when they need to interfere and separate products from each other.
Similarly, your facility should designate tools for specific purposes. Using the same tools for different types of products can lead to contamination.
Labeling and Identification
In addition to the color-coding method to separate different raw materials, you should have consistent labeling and identification cues throughout your facility. There should never be any question of what materials employees are handling or what tools they should use for which products.
This can also help you keep track of which products have been through inspection, which products still need to undergo inspection, and which products are contaminated. This ensures that your facility gives all raw materials a thorough inspection. Failing to properly label products can lead to contaminated products slipping through the cracks.
For food production, ensure that each product has a proper label detailing the ingredients and expiration date before your facility distributes products to customers or a third party.
Storage and Handling Protocols
Whether raw materials are in storage, in transit, or being handled by workers, there must be standardized protocols to maintain their safety.
When the materials arrive at the facility, workers should ensure all materials are in properly sealed packages. They should discard any damaged packages. At this point, those accepting the shipment should also check the temperature of the delivery truck to ensure it keeps the materials at the proper temperature.
After accepting the delivery, workers sort through the products and transfer them to their respective storage containers or coolers. The temperature of storage also requires monitoring. Coolers must be closed at all times unless workers have to retrieve, move, or inspect products.
Types of Contaminations
To properly identify contamination, you must know what to look for. There are three primary types of contamination risks for raw materials: physical, chemical, and microbiological. To practice proper risk mitigation and quality assurance, you must have the tools to inspect your products for each of these contaminants.
Physical contamination risks include:
- Foreign objects
Physical risks can contaminate raw materials at any stage of production. Without proper inspection, these contaminants can go unnoticed. Ensure all employees follow protocol regarding personal and facility hygiene to reduce the risk of physical contaminants.
Chemical contaminant risks include:
- Cleaning products
- Veterinary drugs, pesticides, and dioxins
Raw materials may arrive at your facility already chemically contaminated. They could have come into contact with pesticides, cleaning products, or lubricants during packing or transportation. This is why it’s vital to inspect all products as soon as they arrive.
Microbiological threats include:
Microbiological contaminants are one of the most dangerous types of contamination. They can lead to serious disease outbreaks if contaminated products reach the public. With x-ray inspection systems, you can catch these contaminants before they cause harm.
Material Contamination Solution in the Industry
As technology evolves, so do contamination solutions. Technologies like TDI Packsys x-ray inspection systems make raw material contamination management more efficient and accurate for a variety of industries. For example, we offer a set of systems for chicken and fish bone inspections.
Other technologies you can utilize for raw material contamination management include:
These systems have better detection capabilities than any inspection technologies of the past. There are also combination systems that allow several of these functions to operate on the same machine.
Using this advanced equipment for contamination control tests can help you better guarantee the safety of your products and customers.
Tackle Raw Material Contamination Management With TDI Packsys
At TDI Packsys, we offer some of the highest-quality inspection tools on the market. If you want to make raw material contamination management at your facility more efficient, we have the products for you. We understand how important food and product safety are and dedicate ourselves to helping you guarantee the quality of your products.