Even the most stringent of detectability-oriented food safety systems are not fail-safe. The below image – taken in Melbourne, Australia, by a customer of a prominent global food retailer – shows exactly why prevention is a more effective approach.  

Upon discovering a sharp metal spring in her meal, the mother-of-two said she “felt something was right in my tooth”. After spitting out her food, she noticed the large spring, and, in her own words, “instantly felt sick”.  

Worst of all, this customer was with her two children, both under the age of three. Afterwards, she told 7News Australia that: “I just keep thinking about what could’ve happened if it was either of my young children and how scary it could’ve turned out.”  

Public exposure of this sort will taint any company’s reputation. Following this incident, a three-pronged investigation between the restaurant, customer, and council had to be undertaken. But it was entirely preventable.  

A Common Non-Conformance

Due to the unavoidable need for pens and other utensils in and around production lines, poor foreign body contamination control is one of the most commonly identified BRCGS non-conformities. More importantly, it is also a violation of compliance – not to mention customer trust. In this era of instantaneous, 24/7 news and social media reviews, years of impeccable food safety standards can be ruined by one tiny lapse.

But there is a guaranteed way to ensure that the pens used by your team pose no risk of foreign body contamination.

Prevention before detection.

Read on to find out more.

The Solution

Pen coil springs are virtually undetectable, not only by the human eye, but also by automated machines. Leading companies are now opting to use metal detectors or x-rays to identify pen fragments in food items where necessary, in addition to implementing measures to prevent such hazards before they arise.

How?

These organisations – which include Heinz, Bakkavor, Cargill, PepsiCo, Two Sisters, Moy Park, and XPO Logistics – are mandating the use of writing utensils which physically cannot fragment. In other words, they have made it company policy that their pens…

1. Are made of the strongest, most durable materials

2. Are completely shatterproof

3. Do not contain coil springs

Tried and tested across the complete food sector, Retreeva Global have designed an innovative range of near-unbreakable pens. It is a known fact that higher metal content makes factory pens more brittle, increasing the risk of the pen shattering under pressure, and, subsequently, product contamination.

As part of the Klipspringer Group, Retreeva’s choice of materials means that, unlike other options, these pens cannot shatter into unnoticeable, far-flung fragments.

By eliminating the risk of foreign body contamination on assembly lines, consistent product integrity is ensured. And yes, these pens are still produced to a very high standard of detectability. But, by choosing a robust, shatterproof, and spring-free pen which first prevents foreign body contamination, detection becomes a last resort.

In the unlikely occurrence of a mishap, this ensures that stray pens still have a very high chance of being rejected in finished product.

What Does BRCGS Food Safety Issue 9 Say?

It also offers compliance with the BRCGS’s increasingly strict food safety requirements, which state that:

“Portable handheld equipment, e.g. stationery items (pens, pencils etc.), mobile phones, tablets and similar portable items used in open product areas shall be controlled to minimise risk of physical contamination. The site may consider, for example:

  • excluding non-approved items
  • restricting the use to site-issued equipment
  • ensuring stationery items such as pens are designed without small external parts and are detectable by foreign body detection equipment, or are used in designated areas where contamination is prevented"

(BRCGS9 Ref. 4.9.6.2.)

If you’d like to learn more about the specific features of Retreeva’s much-acclaimed detectable pen range, read this comprehensive summary.

Alternatively, you can watch the below video explaining which type of detectable pen best suits your applications.

If you would like further guidance relating to this topic, the Klipspringer team would be happy to help. Share your details below.