The number of recorded recalls of food products contaminated with pieces of plastic or rubber have more than doubled in the EU and North America in the past 12 months, according to food safety equipment manufacturer Detectamet.
The figures, it said, could be a reflection of the increased levels of food safety monitoring – rather than an increase in food processing errors – but even the longer-established UK data sources indicate an increase in recalls of over a third.
The product sector with the most instances of contamination continues to be chicken products with 19% of the total. The dairy sector (17%), bakery (15%) and vegetables and salads (13%) also have a significant share of recall incidents, Detectamet said.
The company’s sales director, Jon Ireland, said: “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. It was useful to see that two recall events 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 food areas that have had no recorded plastic recalls in 2016 is the minced beef and sausage sectors despite, in past years, regularly experiencing such events.
“Most of the plastics triggering recalls are almost anonymous, save for generic descriptions of size, texture and colour,” Ireland continued.
“Detectamet continues to work to develop new products that customers request. In this way, we will help to turn the tide on the growth of plastic contamination incidents in the future.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019