The surge in food recalls

Over the year gone by, there have been an increasing numbers of recalls because of plastic parts being found in food. Consider the articles for instance:

Guardian: Mars recalls chocolate bars in 55 countries after plastic found in product

The Telegraph: Kettle Chips recalled over fears packs may contain plastic that looks like crisps

Chicken nuggets recalled due to plastic in packaging

Vogue: Over 200,000 Pounds of Chicken Nuggets Recalled for Traces of Plastic and Rubber Pieces

These mishaps extend beyond the food processing industry and can be equally disastrous in the medical devices and pharmaceutical industries. Besides the direct financial costs involved in a recall there are potential liability costs arising from the litigations. A much heavier and long term cost arising out of such recalls is the loss of Brand value. As any brand owner or marketing guru will tell you, it takes decades of meticulous work, discipline and a lot of money to build a respectable brand.

The chief reason that has led to these catastrophic damages is that now, the machinery used in the food processing industry uses more and more plastic parts. Plastic gears, belts, conveyers, scoops , stirrer etc. have replaced traditional metals and bought new level of efficiencies to the processes.

Unfortunately, the contamination detection equipment at the end of the process has not kept pace with this change. Most Food processing plants still use the traditional detection methods that are geared to detect metals!
X-Rays and magnetic traps being the most common used. Plastics are invisible to both!

The regulatory bodies are coming down hard on such incidents and both FDA and HACCP have stringent legislations when it comes to food industry. While FDA specifies the max size of a contaminant particle, HACCP maps out the manufacturing process itself and focuses on identifying the critical “incident” points.

Responding to this pain area in the food processing industry, we at the ALOK Technology Incubation Centre (ATIC) have developed a range of X-ray detectable polymer compound – xDetect. xDetect polymer compound are visible under the traditional X-ray detection equipment. xDetect compounds are non-toxic and have a high contrast ratio that makes any small plastic contaminant easily detectable on the high speed food processing lines.