Metal detectors installed on production lines protect consumers from physical damages, and the manufacturer from image damages and, hence, economical damages. They help food processing industries to insure product quality, but all other preventive measures to avoid the presence of foreign bodies – such as accurate maintenance to the production plants, selection of incoming materials and suppliers and continuous personnel training – should not be neglected.
Food safety is a prerequisite without which food industries could not produce. When thinking of food safety, the fi rst things that ring a bell in one’s mind are microbiological hazard (pathogenic contamination) and chemical hazard (contamination through toxic chemicals such as phytopharmaceuticals, mycotoxins, material that migrates from the package to the foodstuff, etc.), but there is another important aspect that is often underestimated: the physical hazards, that’s to say the presence of foreign bodies of different kind. H.A.C.C.P. criteria are mainly oriented towards the prevention of microbiological hazards, but their observance in compliance to Art. 5 of the EC Regulation 852/2004 involves that “a food business operator shall identify and prevent risks”, hence all kinds of risks must be taken into account. Next to the self-control handbook, there are voluntary certifi cations such as UNI EN ISO 9001, which outline the requirements for Quality Management Systems that enhance customer satisfaction, for expanding the company vision to all production processes, for delivering products of standard quality complying with the set requirements, the importance of constantly improving performances, know-how and process control, the capacity of involving the human resources in the prevention of all kinds of hazards and risks. There are many other voluntary certifi cations, which become essential when the products are directed to retailers. In fact, many supermarket chains that sell many products with their own label, are very demanding when protecting the confi dence customers have in their trademark.
This need almost always turns into the request for European IFS (International Food Standard) and BRC (Global Standard for Food Safety del British Retail Consortium) certifi cations. The scope of IFS Standards is to enhance the selection of branded food suppliers in retail chains on the base of their capacity of supplying safe products, complying with contract specifi cations and, obviously, with food safety standards and existing laws. The IFS standard is accepted in Europe and worldwide, as well by the GFSI (Global Food Safety Initiative), an international initiative which sets requirements for food safety schemes in order to improve cost effi ciency throughout the food supply chain. Recently, the GFSI announced that several international retailers have come to a common acceptance of the four GFSI benchmarked food safety schemes, aligning common criteria defi ned therein, with the objective of making food manufacture as safe as possible while reducing the duplication of audits. IFS standards specifi cally request the use of metal detectors. The BRC, another GFSI accept ed standard, was developed in 1998 primarily to ensure that all branded products are produced according to well defi ned quality standards, in full respect of minimum requirements. It can be compared to a standard linking qualifi ed suppliers to the retailer. BRC certifi cation is a must for exports to European countries, and is an established guarantee of a company’s reliability. Non-European markets, as for instance the U.S. market, show almost maniacal attention to the total absence of foreign bodies, defi nitely higher than the attention devoted to the presence of residual veterinary drugs. Companies intending to market their products on those markets, must pay particular attention to physical hazards.