Welcome to the FlexXray School of Foreign Material Contamination Safety! This is a 24-part series intended to help food quality and safety professionals gain insight and understanding into the root causes, solutions and industry-specific issues of foreign material contaminants. Throughout this course, we’ve included knowledge from industry experts and our team of professionals.
Let’s start with what qualifies us to address this issue: FlexXray is, far and away, the largest x-ray inspection service company in North America. We work with some of the largest food, beverages, and consumer goods producers to resolve foreign material contamination issues quickly, safely, and profitably.
Over the course of the last five years, we’ve inspected over XX,XXX,XXX pounds of product and saved over XX% of it. Our work has resulted in estimated savings of $XX,XXX,XXX. We’ve encountered foreign materials of nearly every conceivable type, from missing safety glasses to shards of metal less than 1mm in size. Our inspection facilities across the United States are equipped to work 24 hours a day based on the needs of our customers.
In short, this is what we do and all we do.
The Issues At Hand
If you’re a food and beverage industry professional, you know this truth: you can’t stop foreign material 100% of the time. Foreign material contaminants are a part of being in the food business in the 21st century. Our course is designed to answer how to respond when your best in-house remediation efforts aren’t enough. Let’s cover the major issues at play when dealing with foreign material contamination.
The Bottom Line
The product you produce has value. Historically, one of the “solutions” to foreign material contamination is to dispose of contaminated product entirely. The combination of shrinking margins, advancing technology and increased attention to the impact of food waste have decreased the frequency with which food companies turn to this as an answer for foreign material contamination. Rather than throwing product away, many producers have turned to internal remediation techniques—such as internally re-inspecting product—with mixed success.
You need your team focused on producing sellable product to meet market demand. That’s where your team has expertise, and keeping them in “production mode” is nearly always your best profit decision. To resource your team to find foreign material contamination, you will have to pull labor from production. This is a double-edged sword: pulling labor skilled at one task to perform an atypical function (product inspection) cuts your production capacity and does not guarantee success at identifying foreign material contamination.
If you do pull labor resources off of production to support in-house efforts, it doesn’t solve one of the key problems of foreign material contamination: what your technology isn’t configured or calibrated to find. Inline technologies are highly effective at quickly and effectively identifying specific foreign material types, such as metal fragments, but typically aren’t equipped to identify materials like plastic, rubber, glass and more. This is a problem that the application of labor resources doesn’t inherently solve.
Foreign material contamination poses a major issue for producers dealing with perishable products. When your product can’t be delivered to market because it’s on quality assurance hold due to foreign material contamination, it needs to be cleared quickly, safely and accurately. Barring an in-house team with the technology, time and training to quickly remediate these issues, perishable product can end up back where we started: wasted.
The impacts of unchecked foreign material contamination can wreak havoc on trust in your brand and even result in lawsuits stemming from harm to consumers. News story after news story proves this out [link to news story video]. The consequences of an incomplete HACCP plan designed to conquer foreign material contamination can have ramifications beyond not meeting production quotas—it can have a lasting negative impact on your brand.
These are the critical issues surrounding foreign material contamination in today’s production environment. Resolving them requires a combination of mitigation efforts—from in-plant quality assurance professionals to strong partnerships with foreign material contamination experts like FlexXray. Foreign material contamination is an important issue and, with experience and expertise, one that can be solved.
What To Expect
Our “course of study” will cover four major areas:
- The Sources of Foreign Material Contamination
- How To Solve Foreign Material Contamination
- Industry-Specific Issues in Foreign Material Contamination
- How To Solve & Mitigate Foreign Material Contamination
While most of these areas will focus on how foreign material contamination affects food and beverage producers, we also have a strong track record with non-food consumer product producers. We will include consumer products in our discussions.
Each of the succeeding units will include review materials, leading to a final installment that will provide a comprehensive guide for determining the disposition of contaminated product. If you’d like to receive email notifications each time a new section of our course is released, we encourage you to sign up below.
Welcome to the FlexXray School of Foreign Material Contamination Safety!