Food Recalls: Reducing the Risk of Physical Contamination

Food recalls due to contamination (allergens), pathogens (bacteria), or physical contaminants (plastics, rubber, wood, metal) are a major concern for food manufacturers across North America and around the world. Despite the fact that food manufacturers invest heavily in technology, lab analyses and human inspectors, to detect contamination before product is released to the supply chain brand damaging recalls occur on a regular basis. A recall can mean millions of dollars’ worth of wasted food product and labour, reduced customer confidence in that company’s brand, and in the worst case scenario an adverse impact on the health of those who have consumed the product.

“According to the USDA, 150 food products were recalled in 2015. From large national brands like Tyson Foods and McCormick to smaller local manufacturers, no food company is immune to food recalls.”- Food Safety Tech, Top 3 Reasons for Food Recalls

In the case of physical contamination specifically, current detection methods such as metal detectors, X-ray, and colour vision cameras have significant capability gaps. As discussed in the “Top 3 Reasons For Food Recalls”, plastics and rubber commonly go undetected by these technologies for one of several reasons – their chemical nature (non-metal) makes them undetectable by metal detectors, they can lack the density to be detected by X-ray, and their colour and/or size can make them invisible to a traditional vision system. Food manufacturers are actively seeking an innovative approach to address this capability gap and reduce their risk of issuing recalls due to physical contamination.

Enter P&P Optica (PPO), whose Smart Imaging Technology addresses this capability gap. PPO’s Smart Imaging Technology is an innovative system for inline, real-time detection of physical contaminants, regardless of their type, density, or colour. It is highly effective because it works on the principle of visually determining the chemical composition of target materials, whether those materials are plastic, rubber, wood, metal, or the food itself. For example, a PPO system installed over a conveyor belt that is continuously monitoring food passing by at line speed will detect when a piece of plastic is present by virtue of knowing the chemical signature of plastic relative to the food product. Based on that chemical signature recognition, a warning is sounded and a corrective action taken.

Applications of PPO’s Smart Imaging Technology go beyond addressing the physical contamination issue. With the ability to accurately analyze the chemical composition of the food itself, applications of PPO’s Smart Imaging Technology exist across the food production workflow, including the ability to continuously grade food for quality inline and in real time. PPO Smart Imaging – increasing the safety and the quality of the food we eat!

For more information about this development in food processing technology, please contact us at: Toll free 1-800-706-3811, Locally 519-576-0007 or info@ppo.ca .