Preventing Food Safety Recalls with Cost-Effective Preventive Maintenance and Modern Materials

Posted on: February 5, 2019

With the latest Tyson Foods recall in January 2019, this article revisits the simple and cost-effective way that preventive maintenance and use of modern inspection techniques can prevent costly recalls. With our deep experience in building food manufacturing equipment, we have been called in to diagnose and engineer permanent solutions to many similar recalls. The solution most often comes down to using the slightly more expensive, but incredibly cost-effective, metal detectable O-rings and seals along with X-ray inspection of the processed food between seal replacements.

In January 2019, a Tyson Foods facility had to recall 36,000 lbs. of chicken nuggets when rubber material was reported by consumers. The product had been shipped to retail stores nationwide. U.S. Department of Agriculture classified the recall as Class I, meaning there’s “reasonable probability” that consumption of contaminated food will cause serious health consequences or death.

The cost of the this and all recalls is huge, way overshadowing the cost of solid preventative maintenance and modern product inspections. The Food Marketing Institute estimates that the average cost of a food recall is $10M, not including brand damage, lost sales, and the engineering to fix the root cause of the problem.

One of the most basic of all ways to prevent recalls similar to this, with rubber seal and O-ring contamination, is with metal detectable O-rings and seals followed up with X-ray inspection of the finished product. In this most recent case, Tyson reported that the rubber was from a seal in one of their processing components. Without knowing the exact cause, we can only deduce that either the seal was not of the metal detectable type or there was a fault in the X-ray inspection system.

We find that many food manufacturers still do not specify the slightly more expensive metal detectable O-rings in their system designs. With time and constant cleaning, processing equipment in the food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries can have their seals and O-rings degrade to the point there will be rubber contamination in the output product. Metal detectable rubber parts are the answer working with in-line X-ray sensing equipment. These metal detectable O-rings and seals can be made from a wide range of materials including:

  • Buna
  • EPDM
  • FKM Fluoroelastomer
  • Silicone
  • Tuf-Steel®

We typically specify metal detectable O-rings and seals from Rubber Fab. Their entire Detectomer® family of products can be x-ray detected in use with packaging and product that includes glass, metal, stone, and high-density plastics, even for products packaged in foil or metalized film. For a great guide to all of Rubber Fab’s O-ring and seal products and for detailed information on their full line of DETECTOMER products that can be spotted by in-line X-ray inspection, metal detection systems, as well as magnetic separators, click here.

If you are concerned about your risk with systems not modernized with metal detection systems and the right O-rings and seals, Anderson Dahlen can assist with a full engineering assessment of your systems and kits for replacing all your seals with exactly the right type to minimize the risk of recall. Let us be your partner for selling the importance of proper system design and formal preventive maintenance to prevent expensive and brand-damaging recalls.

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Anderson Dahlen is an authorized distributor with the capacity to provide components for a wide range of manufacturing systems. Contact us today to get your free quote.

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