Glass fragments can lead to serious injuries and for this reason food safety professionals should include in their food safety systems glass policies.
SOME FOREIGN BODIES WE MAY EXPECT
While only 5% of incidents with foreign materials result in injury (Hyman et al., 1993; Olsen, 1998), food safety professionals must have particular attention to sharp objects that can cause oral or gastrointestinal lacerations or perforations.
When consuming food, it is generally understood by consumers that certain natural components, such as bones in seafood or shells in nut products, are present and may require caution. Consumers are aware that these components are intrinsic to the particular food product and are less likely to cause injury because they anticipate their presence.
However, there are exceptions when it comes to foods that are specifically labeled as having the hard or sharp component removed. For example, pitted olives are marketed with the claim that the pits have been taken out. In these cases, consumers expect that the naturally occurring hard or sharp object, such as pit fragments, will not be present in the food. Therefore, if any remnants of the hard or sharp component are unexpectedly found in these foods, it can catch consumers off guard and potentially lead to injury.
It is important for food manufacturers and distributors to accurately represent the absence or removal of hard or sharp components in labeled products to ensure consumer safety and avoid any unexpected harm. Clear labeling and quality control measures play a crucial role in preventing potential injuries caused by the presence of these natural components in foods where their absence is expected.
GLASS WE WON’T
Glass fragments can end up in food through various means, often as a result of accidents or mishandling during food processing, packaging, or transportation. Here are some possible scenarios:
- Breakage during manufacturing: Glass containers or equipment used in food production can break or shatter, leading to glass fragments entering the food. This can happen if there is a manufacturing defect, improper handling, or excessive pressure applied to the glass.
- Contaminated ingredients: Glass fragments may be present in ingredients used during food preparation (e.g., spices, condiments). If the glass packaging of these ingredients is damaged or compromised, fragments can mix with the food.
- Packaging and transportation: Glass containers used for packaging food products can break or crack during transportation or handling. This can occur due to rough handling, collisions, or inadequate protective measures. If the glass packaging is damaged, fragments can contaminate the food inside.
- Accidents during food preparation: In commercial kitchens or food service establishments, accidents can occur that lead to glass breakage. For example, dropping a glass dish or container can cause fragments to scatter and potentially contaminate nearby food items.
It is important for food manufacturers to implement strict control measures, including proper inspection and monitoring, to prevent glass contamination. This includes regular equipment maintenance, thorough ingredient inspections, and robust packaging protocols. Additionally, food handlers and operators should maintain a clean and safe working environment to minimize the risk of glass fragments ending up in the food.
The steps to establish this policy may be:
- Identify, assess and perform training on glass management
- Identify where glass is present in the facilities
- Assess if glass can be removed or substituted
- Determine measures to avoid possible contamination from glass that cannot be removed
- Monitor effectiveness of the measures established
- Establish a procedure to follow in case of breakage
- Document any incident or breakage of any of the remaining glass and do effective root cause analysis
Some measures to prevent contamination with glass fragments include shielding lights, such as coating light bulbs, and protecting the surroundings and products when changing lights. It is important to note that lights, as well as other brittle materials, are also present in forklifts, tunnels, and freezers, among other areas within the facility.
In addition, it is crucial to implement a monitoring procedure to regularly assess the condition of any glass materials still present in the facility, even if they are already shielded. The frequency of monitoring should be determined based on the level of risk. It is recommended to conduct the monitoring at least monthly in areas where the risk of glass contamination is higher.
- Radionuclides: Radioactive isotopes of elements (radionuclides) are naturally present in the environment, and that includes our bodies and our food and water. We are exposed to radiation (also known as background radiation) from these radionuclides on a daily basis. Radiation comes from space (i.e., cosmic rays) as well as from naturally-occurring radioactive materials (radionuclides) found in the soil, water and air. Radioactivity can be detected in food and water and the concentration of naturally-occurring radionuclides varies depending on several factors such as local geology, climate and agricultural practices.
- Radionuclides Rule: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates radionuclides in drinking water to protect public health. Radionuclides in water at amounts greater than the drinking water standards may cause health problems. On December 7, 2000, EPA published the Radionuclides Final Rule. The new rule revised the radionuclides regulation, which had been in effect since 1977. The revisions set new monitoring requirements for community water systems (CWS). This ensured customers receive water meeting maximum contaminant levels (MCL) for radionuclides in drinking water. https://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/radionuclides-rule
- The United States Food and Drug Administration is a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.fda.gov/files/food/published/Draft-Guidance-for-Industry–Hazard-Analysis-and-Risk-Based-Preventive-Controls-for-Human-Food—Potential-Hazards-Associated-with-the-Manufacturing–Processing–Packing–and-Holding-of-Human-Food-%28Chapter-3%29-Download.pdf
This article was written by:
Nuno F. Soares
Disclaimer: The information contained on this article is based on research done in the last months and the authors personal experience and opinion. It is not intended to represent the view of any organization they work for or collaborate with. The authors will not be held liable for the use or misuse of the information provided in the article.