New research suggests cost-cutting demanded by supermarkets is causing shortcuts on product safety in England. A Food Standards Agency (FSA) survey of recalls found 15 national product recalls in 2017 due to the contamination of products with pieces of metal, plastic, and glass.
This new number is more than double the amount of recalls seen five years ago.
Additionally, bacterial contamination with salmonella was responsible for 14% of product recalls. And 10% of the recalls were caused by Listeria, which is a particular risk for pregnant women.
Among the suspected factors causing a rise in recalls is cost cutting in the production process and reduced pricing pressures from both retailers and consumers.
Not only are recalls costing companies thousands of dollars and harming their reputation, but consumers are being put at risk.
The Importance of Safety in Food Packaging
With foodborne diseases causing about 48 million Americans to get sick, 128,000 to be hospitalized, and 3,000 dying every year, safety when using industrial packaging machines is more important than ever.
Unfortunately, there are many opportunities for food products to become contaminated. Some common contaminants found in recently recalled food include:
- Animal bone fragments
- Insects or other pests
Any of these contaminants can enter food products during the packaging process. Debris like plastic, metal, and glass can enter the food from the industrial packaging machines if they are not cleaned and maintained properly. Additionally, if employees don't take proper precautions, they may cause hair, jewelry, and other foreign objects to enter the products.
Industrial packaging machines are responsible for ensuring the correct packaging improves the food's shelf life. Unfortunately, placing food in a cold area is not sufficient enough to preserve the food longer. Ultimately, it comes down to the food's packaging being able to remove the food's exposure to high oxygen levels.
Additionally, the packaging is responsible for protecting the food from other contamination threats. Food contamination may be caused by objects, like plastic or metal, entering the product during the packaging process. However, contamination may also occur through the spread of liquids or airborne bacteria. Because of that, vacuum packaging and food sealing machines are vital in protecting food products from outside contamination.
Because of the dangers of food contamination, the food processing and packaging industry should utilize food inspection equipment like metal detectors and x-ray machines. With the use of proper inspection equipment, manufacturers can greatly decrease the risk of food contamination.