How Animals End Up in Packaged Food

Critters in prepackaged food? It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it often explodes into a viral news story and turns into a food safety nightmare. This week, a live scorpion was found in a bag of spinach purchased by Maryland couple at a Giant grocery store. Possibly even more disturbing, last weekend a dead bat was found in a salad container by a Florida couple. Although the risk of rabies was very low, the CDC recommended the couple being post-exposure rabies treatment.


How does this happen?

Many large food companies do not hand pick products, instead they use mechanical harvesters that gather large amounts of food at one time. It's possible, but extremely rare for small animals to make it through quality control checks which, for most food manufacturing facilities, occur during the washing and sorting line. Flying creatures, such as birds and bats, could make their way into the production plant by entering the facility through an open door or vent and somehow manage to end up in a finished product. There is also always the possibility of a product being tampered with in the retail field.


Good Manufacturing Practices for the Food Industry

No food manufacturer wants to deal with the event of having customers find something wrong with their product. The FDA has defined Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) as the minimum sanitary and processing requirements for food companies. These practices lay out a basis for the conditions and sanitary controls that are necessary for the manufacturing, processing, packing, and storing of food to ensure its safety. The GMPs are general and are to be used as a guide for companies to create operating procedures that meet the FDA requirements as well as meet the needs of their food products and facility.


A main essential component of any food safety program is sanitation practices to ensure the food production environment is free of any organisms that could contaminate the product. This includes sanitizing procedures, schedules, and corrective action processes if in the rare case, there is a sanitation issue.


It's important for companies that experience incidents like these to strongly consider revisiting their quality control process on the production line to try find out how a similar event can be prevented in the future.


Ownership and Credibility

In the Food Safety and Modernization Act, initial focus was placed on large food producers over 500 employees, but as of September 1st, 2017 all food producers under 500 employees will have to have a person responsible for hazard controls on staff and be able to guarantee the security of their supply chains. This means that the food you eat has to have a complete traceable pathway from the film that touches the food, the tape used to start it on the core, the bag that covers the roll, the box that the bag covering the roll goes into, down to anything that touches it in process. Even the nitrile gloves we provide our customers will have certain requirements.


Rocket Industrial has committed to owning our place in the food industry as a preferred supplier and achieving British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Food Safety Certification within the GFSI Scheme, which is more rigorous than the legal GMP requirement. Achieving BRC Certification assures our customers that they are dealing with a company that reaches high levels of competence in all critical areas. Customers are are also ensured that the products we are providing come from companies that are monitoring and continually improving product quality and safety while complying with all regulations.