Discover How Product Inspection Equipment Can Protect Against Food Tampering
On Tuesday 31 January 2017, the Co-op initiated a UK-wide recall of its hollow milk chocolate Easter bunny figures as a precautionary measure after a small battery was found inside a product in Nottingham.
The incident is believed to have been caused by product tampering and a criminal investigation has subsequently been launched. For more details click here
A spokesman for Co-op said, “The health and safety of our customers is uppermost in our minds. We are concerned about one incident of alleged product tampering involving our hollow milk chocolate Easter bunny foil figure, which has been found to contain a small battery inside. This follows an incident at Christmas when two similar products were targeted and contaminated.”
More than 3,000 bunnies, costing £1 each, have been sold nationwide, and customers are being urged to return them to stores for a full refund as batteries present a choking hazard and can cause burns if swallowed.
Food recalls due to physical contaminants have become a regular feature of today’s headlines. Earlier in January, for example, Thorntons recalled all batches of its hollow milk chocolate Jolly Santa over fears the product may contain a small piece of plastic. For more details click here.
Recalls due to tampering are less common however.
What is Product Tampering?
Product tampering is the deliberate contamination of goods after manufacturing. It’s a criminal offence and is often done to alarm consumers and/or damage a company’s reputation.
As well as affecting a manufacturer or retailer financially, the long-term impact on a brand can be colossal. As consumers, we put our trust in companies to provide safe food and a tampering incident is enough to unnerve the most loyal customer.
However, there is good news…
X-ray equipment can help to minimise the risk of recalls, protect brand integrity and ensure consumer safety. By detecting a wide range of physical contaminants, including glass, metal, mineral stone, calcified bone, and high-density plastic and rubber, x-ray inspection can be a Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) point for preventive control.
Systems can be placed at various critical control points (CCPs), but installing a machine at the end of the production process, after products are sealed, is the safest way to detect contaminants in a single operation. As the production process is over, no further contaminants can enter the product and contaminated packs can be removed before being dispatched.
What’s more, advanced x-ray systems automatically store and allow easy access to reports and statistics on all inspected products, which can prove useful in the event of a criminal investigation.
Checkweighers can also alert manufacturers to possible product tampering due to their ability to detect packages of incorrect weight. A product containing a battery, for example, would be heavier than expected and consequently rejected as ‘non-conforming’.