Plastic or rubber-related recalls double – Detectamet

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: Detectamet. Blue plastic contamination found in Chicken Bites
Picture: Detectamet. Blue plastic contamination found in Chicken Bites

Related tags: Metal

Recalls due to products contaminated with plastic or rubber more than doubled in the past 12 months, according to Detectamet.

The number went from 26 between January and December 2015 to 53 in 2016, based on publically available data from the EU, US and Canada, compiled by the company.  

Detectamet said the increase could be due to increased levels of monitoring rather than more food processing errors.

The firm added reports can be generic when it comes to the source of contamination but could include PBT insulation; electric cable; screen mesh; pieces of transfer belt and rubber seals.

Foreign body contamination issues can result in damage to equipment, costly product recalls, harm to the company's reputation and injury to consumers.

Category outlook

Chicken products were the top category with 19% of the total. Dairy made up 17%, bakery 15% and vegetables and salads 13% also had a significant share of recall incidents.

The share from these categories all rose based on data from the previous year.

“It is apparent that those sectors that use the most extensive mechanical systems in their processing are at greater risk from plastic pieces getting into the product​,” said Jon Ireland, Detectamet’s sales director.

Ireland said it was useful to see two recalls were triggered by failures related to conveyor systems.

“The first involving pieces of a hard plastic rod from a complex conveyor transferring cooked chicken, and the second, involving chicken patties, was believed to be pieces of blue plastic trimmed off a solid conveyor belt.”  

Two areas that had no recorded plastic recalls in 2016 were the minced beef and sausage sectors that in past years featured heavily in the list.

Detection challenge

Ireland said most of the plastic recalls are almost anonymous, save for generic descriptions of size texture and colour.

“Detectamet continues to work to develop new products that customer’s request. In that way we will help to turn the tide on the growth of plastic contamination incidents in the future.”

Detectamet said unless the plastic has been made from a detectable polymer it is impossible for a metal detector to identify and many ordinary plastics are not dense enough to be seen by X-Ray machines.

The firm designs, manufactures and supplies X-ray and metal detectable products including safety knives, tags and labels, brushes and brooms, test pieces, work wear and storage, handling and mixing equipment.

These are made with a proportion of a metallic magnetic trace element and are detectable either by metal detection and x-ray systems or visually.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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