How to Safeguard Your Food Produce from Metal Contamination

Metal contamination remains one of the most dangerous and costly risks in food safety. Whilst the food industry itself is one of the world’s most highly regulated, with many processes in place to ensure food safety, metal fragments, even those of micron size, can still pose a significant threat from the health and safety of the end consumer to product recalls.

In 2019, it was estimated that just one product recall could cost businesses upwards of £768,000, not to mention the damage such action could cause to brand reputation. There are also potential problems such as expensive damage to food processing equipment and subsequent process stoppages related to problems with metal contamination.

When looking at ways to safeguard their products, businesses within the food industry often turn to magnetic separation to negate the risk of foreign materials entering the production chain. Within HACCP compliance, magnetic separation offers one of the safest forms of foreign body removal within the food industry.

How Does Metal Contamination Enter the Food Processing Chain?

Metals are unique in that they are present in almost all stages of the food processing line. Farming instruments, packaging such as staples and screws, machinery, and even human interference can all lead to contamination of the end product.

As technology has advanced, metal detection and separation in substances such as grain, powders, granules, and liquids has become a much easier process, and with the help of magnets, has developed a quick, easy and cost-efficient safety measure for the food industry.

How Are Magnets Used in Food Processing?

Magnetic technology has proven to be the most efficient way to remove ferrous particles from many raw and processed ingredients. Magnetic separation can work in a series of ways, as demonstrated in our Guide to Selecting the Right Magnetic Separator article, but work on the premise that the ingredients will flow past the magnetic rod, plate, or other surface, that will attract contamination, even those just microns in size.

When can Magnetic Separation be Used?

With a range of products available, including magnetic grids, bullets, magnetic drums, magnetic boxes, rotary magnets, pipeline separators, magnetic plates, magnetic rods, tubes and rollers, Eclipse Magnetics have magnetic solutions to satisfy the safety needs of many production lines including bulk powders, grain, granules, pellets and even viscous liquids processing.

Common produce protected by magnetic contamination can be flour and baked goods, chocolate, and sugar. Protecting the raw ingredients reduces the risk of foreign material in the finished product to virtually zero.

How does Magnetic Separation Help with HACCP Compliance?

HACCP is an internationally recognised plan that is devised to ensure the prevention and control of potential hazards in the food industry, namely microbiological, chemical, and physical contaminants. Within the plan, the points cover the specific risks caused by hazards, with magnetic separation being one of the most effective applications for physical contamination.

HACCP quality systems are enlisted to ensure that the end product is safe and of good quality. Many retailers now audit their suppliers' safety management systems in line with EU Regulation 852/2005 and ISO 22000 whilst The Global Food Safety Initiative has also detailed a number of food safety management systems including SQF, FSA, BRC, FDA, FSSC 22000.

Do Magnetic Separators need to be Maintained?

Whilst a magnetic separator itself provides the utmost protection for food ingredients, it’s essential that it is maintained regularly to make sure it is working to its highest potential. Maintaining a magnet involves regular cleaning, inspecting and annual testing the magnets to check magnetic strength is still retained.

How Important is it to Audit Magnetic Separators?

It is imperative to perform an extensive audit at least once a year to ensure compliance with the Department of Health and Safety, and is considered a key step in the HACCP plan to guarantee complete food safety and quality.

What is a Magnetic Separation Example?

Hanningfield installed an Eclipse Magnetics’ double-row housed grid to their Kwik-Sift centrifugal sifter to capture any fine particles of metal that may have been trapped within the agglomerated powders for a customer in the food industry. Sifting 100’s of kilograms per hour, the magnetic grid removes potential risk whilst sifting flour, egg powder and cocoa, along with any other products that require de-lumping.

The grid works by allowing free flowing granulates to fall past the grid whilst the magnets attract any ferrous particles, preventing them from falling further through the production line.

You can read more about this application on our case studies page, alongside more examples of our magnetic technology in action on our case studies page.

How can I find out more about Magnetic Separation?

If you’d like to discuss your requirements, Eclipse Magnetics have a team of experts who are able to assess your business needs relating to your food safety and help you select the right equipment for you. If you’d like to book a consultation, click here.

"We were delighted with the service provided by Eclipse Magnetics; from the initial site survey through to delivery."

Adrian Seeley, Production Supervisor at AB MAURI UK & Ireland

"I cannot begin to tell you how much it has helped our operation, the magnetic filtration unit has been a real problem solver it has surpassed all our expectations. Its cured a 30 year plague!"

Maintenance Manager at EXL Tube (Steel Ventures)

"This technology is economical, reliable and efficient. I believe that magnetic filtration technology is the future."

John Smith, MMTCI

"Magnetic filtration has dramatically cleaned up our fluids and improved the surface finish we can offer. It extracts around 50Kg per day of ferrous waste."

Facilities Manager, Milacron Machines (Sub-Contract Machining)

"We chose Eclipse Magnetics to supply our housed grid because they are a respected and well-established brand. They offered us a very competitive price, and the process of ordering and installation was straightforward and reliable."

Pat Richards, Chief Engineer at Simpsons Malt

“We are delighted with the Automag installation; it’s solved all the problems we were having previously with downtime and maintenance costs. The filter means that we are able to use recycled water, which is saving us £1000 per week!”

Kenneth McRae, Principle Engineer at Vallourec

"Here at Qualflow, we base our business on a philosophy of make the product simple to use, reliable and cost-effective. Eclipse Magnetics’ neodymium magnets offer the strongest magnetic performance, and are nickel plated, making them a cost effective.."

Justin Lawler Ph.D. MBA, Chief Technology Officer at Qualflow Systems Ltd

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John Crossley, NDT Technology Lead at the Nuclear AMRC

"The result is an aesthetically pleasing system, which is effective in trapping metal contaminants and is easy to clean..."

Ian Aunger at Roquette