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Physical Contamination in Food

About Physical Contamination

Physical contamination in food can be a real threat to eaters. Recalls for foreign contaminate can happen for everything from ground beef to cookie dough mix. Contamination can accidentally enter the food supply during manufacturing or when it is being prepared at restaurants and at home. The consequences if eaten can be minor in the case of contaminants such as hair or insects. Allergic reactions can occur if an ingredient in the food was not listed on the packaging. Major consequences such as choking and possibly life threatening laceration injuries to the mouth, gums, or digestive system can occur if there are hard objects like glass, plastic, or metal.

Physical Contamination in Food

A recent cluster of cases tracked by the CDC in 2012 highlights the dangers to consumers. Six people in Providence, RI received severe injuries ranging from puncture of the soft tissues of the neck, causing severe pain on swallowing, to perforation of the gastrointestinal tract requiring emergent surgery from ingesting wire grill-cleaning brush bristles. 

So how does physical contaminants get into food?

Physical contamination can first get into food during processing. The USDA has identified 2 phases of processing, fabrication or rework, that have the highest risk of physical contamination. During fabrication, Metal, bone, rubber, plastic, wood from the line could accidentally be included. If further breakdown and rework of the products is needed for items like sausage and ground beef, metal and other physical contamination from grinder, mixer, chub clips, etc. can accidentally be included in the finished product.

Once it gets to the restaurants and homes to be prepared, there is still a lot more room for error. Both natural and man-made contaminants can be included. Foreign bodies from the prep area like: metal shavings from cans, staples from cartons, glass from broken light bulbs, blades from plastic or rubber scrapers, fingernails, hair bandages, dirt, and bones can accidentally be dropped in and served.

What steps are being used to safeguard from physical contamination?

Globally, HACCP is an internationally recognized system for reducing the risk of safety hazards in food and is widely used. It is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material to consumption of the finished product. In the United States, The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was passed in 2011 and it enables FDA to better protect public health by strengthening the food safety system.

Manufacturers use 3 primary means of physical contamination detection on a production line:

  • Magnetic separators (to find and remove fine, high-purity metal contaminants during food processing)
  • Metal detectors (to identify metallic foreign bodies in food during the processing stage)
  • X-ray machines (to see metal and nonmetal debris like glass, plastic and stones)

For restaurants and grocery stores, there are strict standards to ensure no foreign contaminants get into food sold at retail. Health department codes mandate the use of protection like hairnets, clean hygiene, and proper facilities modifications to ensure that foreign objects don’t gets into the food.

How to stay safe when eating out at a restaurant?

The best recommendation to stay safe is to stay vigilant and aware of the restaurant’s appearance. If the hygiene of the employees and the restaurant’s appearance doesn't seem well kept, that could point to bigger problems in other areas that customers don’t go. The biggest clue can be in the bathroom. If the toilets and restrooms are dirty and in disrepair, the back of the restaurant may bes probably the same. 

What you should do if you find physical contamination in packaged food?

  1. Do not open the container. Taking the foreign body out could damage the evidence.
  2. Take pictures as evidence, preferably in such a way that you can see the object.
  3. Keep the container in the freezer, so you can preserve it. Then, find your receipt so you can prove when and where you bought the food.
  4. Report it, this is very important and may prevent others from being harmed.

To read the current and past recalls, click here

To report a case, fill out the form on this website

 

Read more

Recent Contamination Reports

The affected product is being recalled from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recalled product has been sold in British Columbia.

- Affected products:
Brand: Fresh and Local, Product: Turkey, Bacon Sub, Size: 205 g, UPC: 8 77838 48482 7, Codes: Best before: 22SE21,... See More 22SE22, 22SE25, 22SE26

If you think you became sick from consuming a recalled product, contact your healthcare provider; check to see if you have recalled products; and do not consume, serve, use, sell, or distribute recalled products.

Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the location where they were purchased

In case you are experiencing Listeria monocytogenes symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, it is important to report it. It can help to detect & resolve outbreaks early and prevent others from being harmed, and it enables better surveillance. If symptoms persist, seek medical care.

Company name: CLS Catering Services Ltd.
Brand name: Fresh and Local
Product recalled: Turkey, Bacon Sub
Reason of the recall: Issue Food - Microbial Contamination - Listeria
CFIA Recall date: 2022-09-21

Source: recalls-rappels.canada.ca
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The FDA released a warning letter for The Royal Ice Cream Company Inc. located at 27 Warren St., Manchester, CT 06040-6534 on July 28, 2022.

During the inspection from January 19 through February 22, 2022, FDA investigators found serious violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard... See More Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food regulation (CGMP & PC rule). FDA collected environmental samples (i.e., swabs) from various areas in this processing facility. FDA laboratory analysis of the environmental swabs found the presence of Listeria monocytogenes (L. monocytogenes), a human pathogen, in this facility. FDA have determined that the RTE ice cream products manufactured in this facility were prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.

The serious deviations found at the facility are:

- Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls:
1- This facility manufactures ice cream products, RTE foods that are exposed to the environment prior to packaging, where they may be contaminated with environmental pathogens such as L. monocytogenes. The packaged ice cream products do not receive a lethal treatment or otherwise include a control measure (such as a formulation lethal to the pathogen) that would significantly minimize the pathogen. The detection of L. monocytogenes in finished products and reoccurring presence of L. monocytogenes in this facility are significant in that they demonstrate their sanitation procedures have been inadequate to effectively control pathogens in this facility to prevent contamination of food. Appropriate control of L. monocytogenes in a food processing environment requires knowledge of the unique characteristics of the organism and implementing the hygienic practices necessary to control this pathogen. Once L. monocytogenes is established in a production area, personnel or equipment can facilitate the pathogen’s movement and contamination of food-contact surfaces and finished product. It is essential to identify the areas of the food processing plant where this organism is able to survive, and to take such corrective actions as necessary to eradicate the organism by rendering these areas unable to support the survival and growth of the organism and prevent the organism from being re-established in such sites. Additionally, FDA has repeatedly detected Listeria innocua (L. innocua), a non-pathogenic Listeria species, in environmental samples collected from this firm during FDA inspections conducted in 2022, 2020, 2018, and 2017. The presence of Listeria species such as L. innocua suggests that conditions also are suitable for survival and/or growth of L. monocytogenes. Furthermore, in reviewing this facility’s environmental monitoring program, they have repeatedly found L. monocytogenes and Listeria spp. through their own testing from April 30, 2021, through January 19, 2022, from their RTE ice cream processing environment. During a regulatory meeting held with this firm on March 31, 2021, FDA communicated their concerns regarding operations of this firm, including deficiencies within their written food safety plan and environmental monitoring program.
2.- The sanitation controls did not ensure that this facility is maintained in a sanitary condition adequate to significantly minimize or prevent hazards such as environmental pathogens and biological hazards due to employee handling.
3.- They did not establish and implement adequate written verification procedures for environmental monitoring.

- Supply-Chain Program: Their written supply-chain program does not provide assurance that a hazard requiring a supply-chain-applied control has been significantly minimized or prevented.

- Current Good Manufacturing Practice:
1.- They did not conduct all food manufacturing, processing, packing, and holding under such conditions and controls as are necessary to minimize the potential for contamination of food.
2.- Their equipment and utensils were not designed and were not of such material and workmanship as to be adequately cleanable and were not maintained to protect against contamination

Source: fda.gov

About FDA Warning letters: "When FDA finds that a manufacturer has significantly violated FDA regulations, FDA notifies the manufacturer. This notification is often in the form of a Warning Letter. The Warning Letter identifies the violation, such as poor manufacturing practices, problems with claims for what a product can do, or incorrect directions for use. The letter also makes clear that the company must correct the problem and provides directions and a timeframe for the company to inform the FDA of its plans for correction."
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GHGA is recalling various products (see chart below) due to the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. No other GHGA products are affected by this recall. The products were sold to Kroger and distributed to retail stores on 9/11/22 in the states of Alabama, South Carolina,... See More and Georgia

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short- term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, a Listeria monocytogenes infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. To date, we are not aware of any illnesses linked to this recall. Please see attached photos for further identification. On 9/16/22 the firm was notified by their laboratory that a single sample of a product tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

Products affected are:

- Product Name: Asparagus Saute. Size: 9.5 oz. UPC:8 26766 19027 0. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 254.
- Product Name: Diced Bell Pepper and White Onion. Size: 7 oz. UPC:8 26766 19004 1. Sell-by Date: 9/15/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 254.
- Product Name: Diced Red Onion. Size: 10 oz. UPC:8 26766 18100 1. Sell-by Date: 9/19/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 254.
- Product Name: Fajita Mix. Size: 9.5 oz. UPC:8 26766 19031 7. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 254.
- Product Name: Fiesta Corn. Size: 10 oz. UPC:8 26766 18462 0. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 254.
- Product Name: Hamburger Fixins. Size: 10 oz. UPC:8 26766 19028 7. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 254.
- Product Name: Hatch Chile Guacamole Blender. Size: 9 oz. UPC:8 26766 14452 5. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 254.
- Product Name: Large Medium Salsa. Size: 13 oz. UPC:8 26766 19071 3. Sell-by Date: 9/18/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 254.
- Product Name: Large Mild Chunky Guacamole. Size: 13 oz. UPC:8 26766 19053 9. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 254.
- Product Name: Large Mild Salsa. Size: 13 oz. UPC:8 26766 19069 0. Sell-by Date: 9/18/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 263.
- Product Name: Mango Habanero Blender. Size: 9 oz. UPC:8 26766 19044 7. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 264.
- Product Name: Medium Hatch Salsa. Size: 13 oz. UPC:8 26766 19076 8. Sell-by Date: 9/18/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 265.
- Product Name: Mexican Style Layered Bean Dip. Size: 20 oz. UPC:8 26766 14510 2. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 266.
- Product Name: Mild Guacamole Blender. Size: 13 oz. UPC:8 26766 19045 4. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 267.
- Product Name: Mild Guacamole Blender. Size: 9 oz. UPC:8 26766 14434 1. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 268.
- Product Name: Mushroom Stir Fry Blend. Size: 9 oz. UPC:8 26766 19010 2. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 269.
- Product Name: Seasoned Squash Onion & Dill. Size: 10.5 oz. UPC:8 26766 19036 2. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 270.
- Product Name: Small Medium Hatch Chile Pico de Gallo. Size: 9 oz. UPC:8 26766 19062 1. Sell-by Date: 9/18/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 271.
- Product Name: Small Ranch Tray with Dip. Size: 21.0 oz. UPC:8 26766 19087 4. Sell-by Date: 9/15/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 272.
- Product Name: Snacking Peppers. Size: 12 oz. UPC:8 26766 19037 9. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 273.
- Product Name: Spicy Guacamole Blender. Size: 9 oz. UPC:8 26766 14436 5. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 274.
- Product Name: Steak Topper. Size: 7.5 oz. UPC:8 26766 19026 3. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 275.
- Product Name: 3 Skewer Veggie Kabobs. Size: 22 oz. UPC:8 26766 19008 9. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 276.
- Product Name: Tri Pepper Blend. Size: 7 oz. UPC:8 26766 19003 4. Sell-by Date: 9/15/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 277.
- Product Name: Vegetable Bowl. Size: 42 oz. UPC:8 26766 18468 2. Sell-by Date: 9/17/2022. Lot Code: GHGA 278.

The Sell-by Date has expired, and products were previously removed from store shelves and are no longer for sale. However, products could still be in possession of consumers. The Sell By Dates and Lot numbers are located on the top primary label of each product. These products were packaged in clear plastic containers and sold primarily in Kroger stores in the produce or deli sections.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund or they may discard the product.

In case you are experiencing Listeria monocytogenes symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, it is important to report it. It can help to detect & resolve outbreaks early and prevent others from being harmed, and it enables better surveillance. If symptoms persist, seek medical care.

Company name: GHGA
Brand name: GHGA
Product recalled: Ready-To-Eat Vegetable Products
Reason of the recall: Listeria monocytogenes
FDA Recall date: September 20, 2022

Source: fda.gov
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Date Closed: 2022-09-08
Details: VERMIN AND ANIMAL CONTAMINATION
Source: Sacramento County Environmental Management See Less
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Date Closed: 2022-09-12
Details: VERMIN AND ANIMAL CONTAMINATION
Source: Sacramento County Environmental Management See Less
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Date Closed: 2022-09-14
Details: VERMIN AND ANIMAL CONTAMINATION
Source: Sacramento County Environmental Management See Less
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Date Closed: 2022-09-07
Details: VERMIN AND ANIMAL CONTAMINATION
Source: Sacramento County Environmental Management See Less
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Date Closed: 2022-09-14
Details: VERMIN AND ANIMAL CONTAMINATION
Source: Sacramento County Environmental Management See Less
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The affected product is being recalled from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recalled product has been sold in British Columbia and may have been distributed in other provinces and territories.

-Affected products:
Brand: K-Fresh Fresh Produce, Product: Enoki Mushroom, Size: 200 g, UPC:... See More 4 892742 010234, Codes: SN: 080202

If you think you became sick from consuming a recalled product, contact your healthcare provider; Check to see if you have recalled products; and do not consume, serve, use, sell, or distribute recalled products.

Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the location where they were purchased.

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, the infection can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. In severe cases of illness, people may die.

In case you are experiencing Listeria monocytogenes symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, it is important to report it. It can help to detect & resolve outbreaks early and prevent others from being harmed, and it enables better surveillance. If symptoms persist, seek medical care.

Company name: Kam Ding Investment Ltd.
Brand name: K-Fresh Fresh Produce
Product recalled: Enoki Mushroom
Reason of the recall: Issue Food - Microbial Contamination - Listeria
CFIA Recall date: 2022-09-18

Source: recalls-rappels.canada.ca
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