Use of the scanning electron microscopy in the food industry.
Whether foreign body contamination occurs during processing or packaging, identification of these foreign bodies needs to be rapid and efficient in order to trace the source of contamination. …
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The capabilities of SEM in foreign body identification make the process quite valuable to the food industry. The food industry operates in a spectrum that requires utmost cleanliness and absence of contamination. In essence, the discovery, as well as identification of foreign bodies in food compounds, is a vital activity, which contributes to overall food safety and the assurance of food quality (Smith, 1993). The incident of foreign bodies in food compounds and products can produce a number of dire consequences, which range from process down-time, to consumer complaints that negate an organization’s reputation, to expensive product recalls or litigation. This paper will examine the use of scanning electron microscopy in the food industry discussing its effectiveness in detecting and identifying foreign bodies in food compounds and products.
In the US, the FDA keeps a close eye on product recalls and categorizes the severity of risks posed by food contaminants. For example, foreign body contamination such as through metal particles or glass fragments, warrants a Class II product recall, which refers to a situation where exposure or ingestion of violative products could cause temporary or medically reversible negative health implications (Vierk, Falci, Wolyniak & Klontz, 2002). Notably, product recalls within the food industry are not infrequent events. ...
Recalls related to allergen threats represent at least 36% of all recalled food products. In other countries such as the UK, nearly half of prosecutions related to food faults have been linked to contamination with foreign matter. In the UK, between 1988 and 1994, foreign matter contamination accounted for the largest grounds for defect prosecutions (Graves, Smith & Batchelor, 1998). These instances are viable indicators of the seriousness of food contamination in the food industry. Particulate contamination of food in the industry can occur from various sources. Prior to food purchase, this could include processing issues, for instance, wear particles form conveyors or breakages in the processing plants. Packaging materials, as well as interactions during the storage process, are also noteworthy sources of contamination. Notably, contamination of food products can also occur through parts of the food product, for instance, bone chips found in meat products. According to Lewis (1993) despite quality assurance measures established by food manufacturing and retail stakeholders, contamination can take place subsequent to product purchase within consumers’ homes. Deliberate contamination also occurs for purposes of sabotage or nuisance. Therefore, the detection of foreign bodies in food substances is a critical part of quality assurance and deterring adverse health occurrences in consumers. This detection relies on a variety of established techniques, which include among others X-rays, metal detection and ultrasound (H?ggstrom & Luukkala, 2001). Despite the mode of detection, whenever foreign matter is found in food, two principal questions
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