In any food-related business, managing contamination in food is the worst nightmare. The major penalties for failing to avoid food contamination can include lawsuits, suspension, and supply backlog.
However, as a business owner, it is in your capacity to avoid any kind of contamination with correct measures. We, restaurant consultants at HPG help you understand what physical contamination is before talking about its prevention.
Understanding Physical Contamination:
Contamination by any kind of physical foreign object that can occur at any stage from the collection, preparation, and delivery is considered physical contamination. There are examples of serious harm to consumers, i.e. broken teeth or choking due to physical contamination.
Things like jewelry, plastic, bones, stones, hair, pest remains, and fabrics found in food along with issues in the kitchen, such as flaking paint or loose screws can be a source of physical contamination. Harmful pathogens or toxic compounds are greater threats as they can cross-contaminate the food.
Avoiding Physical Contamination:
Ensuring a safety culture across the entire food delivery process is important to avoid contamination. Necessary actions should be in place to ensure that the food is produced with minimum contamination. Restaurant consultants help you with creating a system that avoids food contamination.
Basic measures that can be taken are:
- Replacing damaged equipment as soon as it is noticed.
- Any faults with equipment and safety mechanisms should be reported immediately.
- A pest control system should be in place
- The kitchen dress code should be in place
Technologies that detect physical contamination to ensure quality control can be used depending on your scale of operation.
The most widely used tools available on the market are:
Magnetic separators: Magnetic plates, bars, and traps are capable of removing fine, high-purity metal contaminants during food processing
Metal detectors: To identify metals in food during the processing stage ensuring no unwanted materials can reach your customer’s plate.
X-ray machines: FDA-compliant X-ray inspection systems for safely and effectively finding physical contaminants. X-ray machines can detect metal and non-metal debris like glass, plastic, and stones.
How To Prevent Physical Contamination?
Integrating a system that detects contamination in your production line or consulting a third-party inspection company can help you detect physical contamination in your food product with ease. However, consider some simple ways to reduce the chances of physical contamination in the production process in the first place.
1. Routine Audits: For quality and hygiene control, regular audits are a must for any kind of commercial kitchen. Your facility should be inspected by a third party for unbiased results which helps you locate loopholes in your systems. Trained professionals who carry out the audits who are skilled at finding issues that could cause contamination, especially the ones you miss out or don’t consider because of lack of information.
2. Employee Safety and Compliance Programs: The staff at your restaurant is one of your greatest assets. But if they aren’t trained to maintain industry standards, they can become your liability in no time which is why educating them is essential. Training on crucial safety and compliance along with the knowledge needed to help prevent any type of contaminants from entering your production line is essential. An in-house safety and compliance program seems costly and time-consuming but once this investment is made, it’s beneficial for your restaurant.
3. Detailed reports: Comprehensive reporting is a crucial part of today’s heavily mechanized and regulated industry. These include standard quality assurance reports or an auditor’s post-inspection assessment.
Data-driven reports offer a quantitative snapshot of your plant’s conditions. Supporting evaluation can also provide a qualitative viewpoint. Put together, this information allows for complete documentation of your facility’s operational conditions. Inconsistencies in these reports lead to problems being detected, giving you the chance to avoid possible contamination events.
Although some contaminations are more serious than others, they can still have similar consequences. Keeping the profit aside, the quality of food is an ethical choice that you as a business owner need to recognize. It’s the only way to protect both your business and your customer’s interests. Restaurant consultant helps you design your kitchen such that everything is put in such a place that the contamination risk is reduced.