THIS WHITE PAPER IS TO SERVE TO ASSIST FOOD MANUFACTURERS AND FOOD SAFETY PERSONELLE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS IN THE CURRENT 0909MAGSEP 1-2010 STANDARD, HOW IT AFFECTS FINAL MAGNETS, AND WHAT STEPS MUST BE TAKEN TO ENSURE FINAL MAGNETS IN FOOD PROCESSING STREAMS ARE ADEQUATE AND IN LINE WITH THE ABOVEMENTIONED STANDARD FOR APPROPRIATE REDUCTION OF RISK.
For many years, dating back to the 1960’s and earlier, magnets have typically been viewed as a means to prevent or reduce the likelihood of damage to plant and equipment. Primarily, this was and continues to be done using Plate Magnets, Bar and Grate type magnets, and Drum or Shuttle/Bullet type designs.
Types of metal contamination typically causing issues and damage include nuts, bolts, wire, rust pieces, tools, and other larger “tramp” type metals.
In Australia & NZ, the mid 1990’s saw a huge shift in how magnets were considered, where the focus changed to a much greater concern related to food safety. This led to leading Australian magnet companies developing high strength magnets that were installed downstream of metal detectors to reduce the risk of consumer complaints and potential product recalls.
This shift in focus continued into the 2000’s until a consortium of food industry specialists and magnetic separation experts combined to develop a standard where quality assurance and food safety professionals could measure and monitor the effectiveness of magnets immediately upstream of packing a bulk load-out of final product.
In 2011, The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law.
Over the next 5 years, the focus once again began to shift from plant protection magnets to a higher recognition of the need for greater consumer protection and final product and brand protection. This focus has continued to increase, although it is still clear that further education is needed in the American food industry regarding the importance of adequate magnet protection in accordance with the standard.
There are five key aspects to the current MAGSEP Final Magnet Standard.
- Magnet strength
- Magnet coverage
- Magnet type and configuration
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Without focus on all 5 of these areas, the potential risk may only be partially controlled in a manner acceptable in today’s society, and consumer expectation regarding food safety.
Failure to maintain all aspects of the MAGSEP STANDARD on final product magnets ultimately leaves the door open for consumer complaints, brand damage and litigation.
No responsible food manufacturer can afford to take this risk.
So, if you are a director of food safety or quality, quality assurance manager, or a leader in any quality-related role, you are probably reading this and asking: “How do I know if the magnets we have right now are adequate and compliant with the standard? And are we providing the best possible protection against all these potential issues, which ultimately the buck stops with me to prevent!”
You first step is to find out the answer to this as soon as you can.
An increasing amount of food manufacturing organizations are commissioning skilled industry specialists to perform a verification/validation service on the currently installed magnets throughout the plant with a focus being given to final magnets (immediately before packing and out loading) and specific areas where supplier control of incoming ingredients and other key areas is critical.
• • •
AN IMPORTANT POINT
There are industry professionals who should be commissioned to perform these services. This may not be your preferred magnet supplier!
So, what does a correct validation process look like? Great question! It’s more than the conventional pull test that’s been used by stereotype magnet companies who believe this is the only way to test a magnet, just like they have for over 50 years! This method is becoming extinct and is no longer relevant for final product protection when the majority of metal contamination that’s a concern to consumers is way smaller and less magnetic than the test piece / ¼” ball on the end of most pull testing equipment!
The belief that magnet strength is really the only important aspect of magnet effectiveness is also well past its shelf life. Whilst magnet strength is critical, it forms one of 5 aspects that must be considered if optimum separation effectiveness is to be achieved.
How should this be reported?
Not by a magnet manufacturer seeking opportunity to sell you new magnets! Any recommended magnet upgrades or improvements should be fully justified by a proper magnet validation report. Remember, a good quality, meaningful validation won’t be free, but will cost way less than what not having one could result in!
Instruments such as gauss meters used in validation of magnets must be calibrated and checked by a calibrated reference magnet immediately prior to the validation being conducted. Both calibrations must be traceable to a proper registered measurement authority and evidence of this must be in the documentation included in the validation report to the food manufacturer.
CHECKLIST FOR FINDING OUT IF I HAVE ADEQUATE MAGNET PROTECTION!
- OBTAIN A COPY OF THE MAGSEP STANDARD
- RESEARCH VALIDATION SERVICES THAT COMPLY WITH THE STANDARD
- ARRANGE VALIDATION SERVICE
- COMPLETE VALIDATION SERVICE ON SITE, OBTAIN REPORT A
- REVIEW AND ACTION OUTCOMES ACCORDING TO THE MAGSEP STANDARD
Kevin R Baker 11/2/22 E&OE