Different types of food contamination and how to avoid them in your production line

 Different types of food contamination and how to avoid them in your production line

No producer wants to find out that one of their products is contaminated. Spoiled food can cause harm or even death to those who eat it.

 In the summer of 2019, six people died across nine NHS trusts after eating packed chicken sandwiches that were contaminated with listeria. The deadly strain was linked to the meat produced by North Country Cooked Meats which is used in sandwiches. 

The company's offices were forced to close for an investigation and went into liquidation, leading to the closure of distributors North Country Quality Foods. The closures resulted in the loss of 46 jobs. The Good Food Chain, which unknowingly made sandwiches with tainted meat, also collapsed, putting an additional 125 out of a job.

When consumers are injured or die as a result of food contamination, the companies involved experience a lot of pressure. In the worst case, businesses can collapse and people lose their livelihoods. Even if they overcome the pollution problem, they will likely have a bad reputation and significant financial damage will result.

 Food producers will do everything possible to avoid contamination and produce safe products, knowing that there will be consequences if they do not do so.

There are four types of food contamination: physical, biological, chemical and allergic. We are going to explain these categories and provides advice on how to avoid them.

  • Physical contamination
  • Biological contamination
  • Chemical contamination
  • Allergenic contamination
  • How to prevent contamination in your plan

1. Physical contamination

This group has an endless list of abuses. Here are a few:

  • Hair:

 Every food producer should insist that factory workers wear hair bands to reduce contaminants.

  •   Glass or metal:

 Glass and metal canmake their way your production from broken equipment, fixtures and utensils. Try to report such breakages quickly. You need to stop the production line and clean it until you are 100% sure that every part has been cleaned. Strong infrastructure planning can also reduce the risk of breakage leading to contamination.

  •  Pests: 

No one wants to see animal feces in their food. But insects like mice, rats and cockroaches produce urine, bubbles, fur and excrement, all of which can get into your products if your house is not kept clean. Worse, these insects - along with various types of insects and spiders - can get into the food.

  • Jewelry:

 Finding broken jewelry or jewelry in food is not acceptable to consumers, who will distrust you and stop buying your brand. Therefore, the authorities will insist that any food worker is not allowed to wear any jewelry.

  •   Dirt:

 Detecting dirt is a challenge because the particles are often small. It can get into food if it contains uncooked items, such as fruits and vegetables. The solution is to wash all the equipment before entering the production line. Also, dirt detecting sensor should be introduced to monitor any unvisual dirt.

  •  Fingernails:

 Perform spot checks to ensure that everyone working on the production line keeps their nails short and clean to avoid contamination. Avoid using false nails or nails, because they can easily fall off, crack and contaminate food.

 2. Biological contamination

There are many types of biological contamination. This problem occurs when bacteria or other harmful microbes get into the food. They are a common source of food contamination, spoilage and costly waste.
Biological hazards include microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, yeasts, molds and parasites. Examples of biological hazard include:

  •   Salmonella
  • E-coli
  • Clostridium botulinum / Clostridium perfringens
  • Campylobacter
  • Norovirus

As in the North Country food cook example above, food poisoning can be deadly and cause the destruction of a business.
Food poisoning can occur when disease-causing bacteria spread to the food being eaten. Bacteria are microorganisms that divide and multiply at an extraordinary rate. Under the right conditions, a single-celled bacterium can multiply to two million in just seven hours.

 Some foods are more susceptible to bacterial infections than others because they provide a good environment for bacteria to grow and multiply. These foods have a high water or moisture content and a neutral acidity (pH). These are high-risk foods that any manufacturer must ensure is subject to strict safety standards.

When high-risk foods are left in the so-called temperature danger zone - above 8°C and below 63°C - the microbial population grows rapidly and the risk can be being a seriously high.

 3. Chemical contamination

Common sources of chemical contamination in food processing include:

• Chemical cleaning agents: 

To prevent potentially harmful chemicals from entering the food chain, you must ensure that machines are thoroughly washed during the cleaning process and that all your equipment is properly stored. Do not store cleaning supplies in the same place as your cleaning chemicals.

• Unwashed fruits and vegetables: 

Pesticides and fungicides on fruits and vegetables can be harmful if applied. Therefore it is important to ensure that they are washed thoroughly. 

• Pest control products:

 Chemicals used to get rid of dangerous insects. These products should be stored separately from groceries and food products. Do not use pest control products on or near production lines.

4. Allergens 

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has identified 14 key allergens: 

  • Celery
  • Grains containing gluten, including wheat, rye, barley and corn.

        Fish - such as oysters, crabs and lobsters 

  • Eggs
  • Lupine beans
  • Molluscs like mussels and oysters
  • Mustard
  • Nuts - including almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts.
  • Peanuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Sulfur dioxide and sulphites (if they are present in more than ten parts per million)

There are many steps you can take to reduce the transfer of allergens in the factory floor

First of all, you need to make sure that the suppliers who have the allergenic ingredients are properly labeled and stored separately. Each unit must be closed properly, because even a small amount of allergen can cause expensive memories or, in the worst case, serious illness or even death of the customer.

Contact can be avoided by using long production lines for products with common allergens, scary production times and using special equipment.

 It is also important to train staff on the importance of avoiding cross contamination. Then assign them to different locations to minimize contact during staff changes

From purchasing products to training employees and preventing bystanders, creating an allergen management system requires a lot of thought and planning. Ensuring yours is effective is critical to customer safety and industry standards.

 How to prevent contamination

For the best quality, any kind of contamination should be avoided. Below, we've listed our best tips for mitigating threats.

  • Maintain high hygiene practices

Maintaining cleanliness reduces many types of pollution.
Here is an example of the hygiene steps you should take: 

  • Wash your hands regularly to prevent the spread of bacteria
  • Clean machines and other equipment between batches to stop cross-contamination, especially if you work with a lot of products that can cause allergens.
  • wash equipment before processing, especially if they are from outside where there may be chemical, biological or physical contamination.
  • Encourage workers to wear PPE, such as gloves and hair masks, to reduce worker contamination.

The cleaning process you use will be tailored to your product, so take the time to find a process that meets your needs.

 2.Train staff

contamination prevention is an all-employee effort. You must provide your employees with the knowledge and tools to better manage your products and reduce risk.

Invest in employee training and communication that leads the way. This may include teaching them how to use PPE or explaining what they should and should not wear in a manufacturing environment. It will also include getting them to follow good hygiene practices and making sure they are treated with respect (such as regular hand washing or rotating wipes).

Finally, make sure they know how to use your equipment properly. This reduces the chance of user error causing contamination, including contamination between product lines.

 3. Invest in the right product testing equipment

One of the easiest ways to avoid contamination is to inspect your products. You need to find the right equipment to analyze your production and uncover any problems.

There are a few options on the market:

1. Weight control - allows you to check the weight of your production. If the weight is too high, it may indicate that your product has a lot of impurities, such as metal or stone. 

2. Metal detection - allows you to detect the metal parts of your product 

3. X-ray - provides advanced analysis and the ability to detect various types of pollution

You can combine several types of tests to find the right one for your plant. X-rays generally provide the highest level of quality control possible. This can help you identify other product defects, such as cross contamination or broken seals, which can cause serious problems. 

However, product testing equipment does not cover all types of contaminants, such as bacterial or chemical types. Therefore, you should use it in addition to a strong cleaning program and other protection measures. 

4. Create a safe environment

Bad conditions can lead to pollution. You have to do it in a safe place.
For example, to prevent viruses, implement a strict security system. Be sure to follow "killing methods," such as pasteurizing milk and milk or using vacuum seals to prevent bacterial growth.

Likewise, create a reliable and regularly maintained production line to reduce physical pollution from broken parts.

 If you work on multiple projects in the same company, you'll also want to have proper procedures in place to avoid cross-contamination, such as line spacing and specifying resources for each line rather than reusing. 

Start by considering the various risks to your production, including pollution that can affect your production. This will allow you to create a strategy that overcomes all obstacles.

5. Have a quality control point at the end of the line

Despite your best efforts to avoid contamination during production, there is still a risk of contamination. Addressing this issue before you get your customers is important to avoid disaster and maintain a good reputation.

 Have an end-to-end solution that provides a final check on your production and the last chance to find contaminants. This will be in the form of a product review tool, but find a method that works for you.

 With this new guarantee, you can let your products leave the factory with confidence that they are the best.


Preventing food contamination is a top priority, which is why all manufacturers must ensure their processes meet global food safety standards. This means that you can meet and protect customer expectations while driving a good brand and reducing the risks that will result from it.

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