Corrective Actions to Avoid a Recall due to Foreign Material Contamination

Mentioning the word “recall” to anyone in the food production and processing evokes images of worst possible scenarios: communications crisis, company chaos and brand equity at stake. That’s why avoiding recall situations is top of mind for everyone protecting the food supply, but especially for the sanitors responsible for eliminating contamination.

Physical Contaminants are No. 1 Complaint

Package of lettuceContamination risks fall into three categories – biological, chemical and physical. Physical contamination is by far the greatest threat to the consumer mindset, as it’s the easiest hazard to see—you can’t identify E. coli in a package of hamburger, but you can see a stray bolt in a can of spaghetti sauce or a smashed insect in a bag of baby carrots. It’s no wonder that foreign material represents the single greatest cause of customer complaints to food manufacturers, retailers and enforcement authorities.

Taking Corrective Action

  • Create a Risk Analysis Plan

In a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan, you can identify and document the raw materials and process steps where foreign material contamination is likely to occur. Use this tool as a risk assessment guide to identify where foreign material control is needed and what training can be utilized to educate on best practices.

  • Implement Foreign Material Control Equipment

Once potential contamination sites are identified, implement equipment and tools that eliminate or mitigate foreign material contamination. One example of this would be to ensure all equipment has metal detection capabilities to locate belts, tags or needles that could have entered the food supply. In addition to the equipment checks, assign a manager to monitor equipment to ensure nothing is missing from the equipment line.

  • Involve Employee SupportSanitized equipment

Getting employee support is quite possibly the most important step in implementing corrective actions. Make sure your employees are properly trained on using all equipment and they understand the consequences of contamination.

How PSSI Mitigates Foreign Material Risk

Packers Sanitation Services, Inc. (PSSI) emphasizes ongoing training to prevent foreign material from entering the food supply. Team members must check all cleaning equipment—inside and out—documenting what they bring into the plant and what they carry out, so nothing is left behind.

PSSI also specializes in dry pick-up before the sanitation shift so that foreign materials are separated from food contact areas immediately. In addition, metal detectable tags on all chemicals screen out these potential contaminants. PSSI is always looking for the next technology to stay on the leading edge of risk mitigation.

With PSSI, you won’t have to think about foreign material recalls; instead you can focus on optimizing your plant’s production capabilities. Visit to put your food safety defense team to work.