Physical hazards

Physical hazards


Foreign bodies found in food may be bought into food premises with the raw materials or introduced during storage, preparation, service or display. It is essential that supervisors are aware of the types of foreign bodies commonly found in their particular sector of the food industry and that they take all reasonable precautions and exercise all due diligence to secure their removal or prevent their introduction. Product tractability systems must be introduced. A record should be kept of all customer complaints and steps should be taken to identify the source of the contaminant. Contamination of food by extraneous matter will cause customer dissatisfaction and may result in bad publicity. If media coverage results, the impact on the business can be disastrous leading, in the worst possible case, to loss of product confidence and even company viability. It is therefore in the interests of the business to minimise the risk of foreign body contamination.

Intrinsic foreign bodies, such as bones in chicken mean or stalks in vegetables, should be minimised by care in harvesting and processing, although foreign body detection and removal systems, such as the use of inspection belts, will also be necessary. The presence of extrinsic foreign bodies in food, such as glass or rodent droppings, is usually of greater concern as this indicates a breakdown in hygiene and will not be tolerated by the consumer.

Although in the minority, some foreign bodies may be considered a serious health hazard, such as glass, stone, wire or rodent droppings, which may result in cut mouths, dental damage, chocking or illness.

How ever, all foreign bodies are, at the very least, a nuisance and food businesses must implement appropriate systems to prevent or remove such contamination. Their presence in food is likely to be an offence under food safety legislation. The hazard analysis and critical control point system (HACCP) provides the most effective preventive approach, and will be extremely useful if the company wishes to avail itself of the due-diligence defence in the event of a prosecution.