Food & Beverage Asia Aug/Sep 2016 - page 40

The importance of advanced food sorting solutions is only
growing as consumers experience allergic reactions due
to cross-contamination and as international exports are
restricted due to bans on GM foods.
Cross Out Contaminaঞon
By
Bjorn Thumas
, Director of Business Development, TOMRA Sorting Food
Importance of Food Safety
According to the World Health
Organisation (WHO), an estimated 600
million people – almost 10 per cent of
the global population – fall ill after eating
contaminated food. With safety regulations
and global demand for food on the rise,
optical and sensor-based sorting has
become a necessity rather than a luxury
for many producers who have previously
relied upon manual sorting and inspection.
As a leading sorting systems manufacturer,
TOMRA sees cross-contamination as an
increasingly vital aspect of food safety.
The reputational and financial impact
of a product recall can be devastating
for a company but sorting technology
can be used to effectively manage
cross-contamination issues.
Cross-contamination, or the presence
of unexpected food matter in a supposedly
homogenous food type, is a serious issue
that can have significant implications
for the global food industry. Headlines
in 2013 reported the scale of the cross-
contamination of meat products in the
European horsemeat scandal, which
wiped hundreds of millions of Euros off
the market value of well-established
global supermarket brands. The impact
of such errors can affect a wide range of
foodstuffs, meaning now, more than ever,
the industry must ensure contaminants are
identified and expelled from their products
as early in the process as possible.
To combat the issues of contamination,
many food manufacturers, processors and
retailers are embracing the ever-changing
technologies and systems available to
them. TOMRA Sorting Food’s machines use
a variety of sensors which go far beyond
the common use of colour cameras. Near
Infra-Red (NIR) spectroscopy enables
an analysis of the molecular structure
of a product whilst x-rays, fluorescent
lighting and lasers measure the elemental
composition of objects. As well as its color
and shape, an object’s surface structure
and biological fingerprint can be effectively
analysed.
Minimising Risk of Allergic
Reactions
An important reason for the identification
and removal of contaminants is to reduce
the accidental spread of allergens. This is
particularly important since the societal
impact of causing an allergic reaction in
an unsuspecting member of the public can
have substantial repercussions, not only
financially and legally, but also in terms of
brand reputation.
Investigations into the product recalls
recorded in the first quarter of 2015 in
the United States highlighted that 58 per
cent of them resulted from the presence
of at least one undeclared allergen, a
potentially hazardous foodstuff that was
not removed during the manufacturing
process. The effect of cross-contamination
has been so great that in 2015, the US
Food and Drug Administration warned
consumers with a peanut allergy to avoid
any product including cumin, as traces
of peanut protein had been found in a
variety of items as a result of poor food
management. Given the fact that 15 million
Americans and 17 million Europeans have
food allergies, the potential for significant
problems is significantly high.
It may initially seem as though greater
attention to the process food undertakes is
all that is needed to eliminate the potential
for the spreading of contaminants, but this
is not the case. Contamination is not only
a result of unforeseen circumstances. In
38
FOOD & BEVERAGE ASIA
AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2016
PROCESSING
&
PACKAGING
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