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The “Why” Behind FDA Metal Limits in Food Products

Picture this: you sit down for dinner, bite into your meal, and wait for the savory flavors to dance in your mouth. However, what you probably don’t know is that you just consumed tiny metal contaminants which should have been removed during the food production process. That can’t be good for your health!

Well, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t think so either. That’s why they’ve placed an emphasis on reducing contamination in our food supply. For manufacturers, producers, and consumers alike, here’s what you need to know about the FDA’s metal limits in food products.

Why Did I Find Metal in My Food?

Just like every other naturally occurring element, metal particles aren’t immune from entering our food supply. When food processing facilities neglect safety precautions—like regular validations and magnetic separation equipment—there’s a high likelihood that shards, chips, and splinters can remain in the final product. These contaminated, metal-infested goods are packaged, distributed, and make their way to the consumer. To avoid this situation, Food Processors and the FDA alike share the same responsibility: reducing toxic metal contamination before it’s too late.

Why Does the FDA Prioritize Metal Contamination, and What’s Their Plan to Combat it?

In an effort to make consumable products safer, the FDA released Draft Guidance for Industry: Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food. This document helps food processors create and comply with the following PCHF requirements:

  • Written FSP (food safety plan)
  • Hazard analysis
  • Preventive controls
  • Monitoring
  • Corrective action
  • Verification and associated records

According to the FDA, “Establishing risk-based preventive controls enables you to apply a proactive and systematic approach to your food safety program through the establishment of preventive controls designed to protect your food, and the consumer.”

It’s important to note that adhering to these requirements won’t directly lead to a “zero-risk” system. Instead, these controls are “…designed to minimize the risk of known or reasonably foreseeable food safety hazards that may cause illness or injury if they are present in the products you produce” (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2019).

Inside the food and beverage industry brews a wide variety of metal contamination risks.

Why Do I Need to Stay Diligent About Metal Detection Standards for the Food Industry?

According to the FDA’s Health Hazard Evaluation Board, “Metal fragments 0.3 inch–1 inch (7mm–25mm) in length are unacceptable if found in any products.” While smaller metal objects escape these guidelines, that doesn’t mean they’re safe for consumption. Particles of any size can still cause serious injuries to your consumers, including:

  • Physical Injury: When ingested, fragments can cause cuts and punctures.
  • Choking: Smaller-sized metallic particles can become lodged in a person’s throat and airways.
  • Tooth Damage: Biting into metal can still chip or crack teeth.
  • Internal Organ Damage: Swallowed metal fragments can tear and damage digestive organs, such as the esophagus, stomach or intestines.
  • Infection: Rogue fragments can introduce harmful bacteria into the body.
  • Allergic Reactions: When exposed to metals like nickel or cobalt, some consumers may experience allergic reactions, anaphylaxis, or worse.

To protect your customers’ health and your business’ reputation, prioritize the reduction of toxic elements in your food products. 

Why and What Should I Do to Reduce Toxic Elements in Food Products?

Three main ways businesses can reduce the amount of toxic elements in their food products:

  1. Implement a food safety management system.
  2. Adhere to the 5 key HACCP principles.
  3. Find a reliable provider for magnetic separation equipment.

All of these actions help create a safe environment, but investing in high-quality magnetic separation equipment is by far the most effective choice.

Why Partner With Magnattack®?

Magnattack® has provided the food processing industry with foreign metal fragment control since 1969. Our industry-leading magnetic separation equipment is specifically designed to reduce the risk of metal contamination, improve food safety, and prevent equipment downtime. With exclusive access to the latest technology, we keep your business in compliance and your brand image untarnished.

Don’t wait until it’s too late—choose Magnattack® for reliable, cost-effective magnetic separation solutions and foreign metal contamination consultation today.

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