How to Increase Quality of Food Production and Avoid Potential Recalls

According to the USDA, 1.5 million pounds of meat & poultry were recalled in 2018 due to extraneous material (plastic fragments, metal shavings, latex pieces, or other foreign materials). “The average cost of a recall for a food company is $10M in direct costs” according to a joint study by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Grand Rapids Metrology helps you keep your profit and avoid potential recalls in two ways: through metal detector systems and calibration! We were presented with an opportunity to make a customer’s food manufacturing process more efficient while mitigating extraneous material risk. As finished product is passed along a conveyor belt, the installed in-motion checkweigher simultaneously weighs the product, and the metal detector ensures product quality.

Metal detectors are an extremely useful tool. When utilized within your current process flow, product is efficiently checked. However, one should not overlook the power of calibration. The food industry prioritizes accurate weight and quality of substance, and therefore, food manufacturing standards are among the most heavily regulated.

Routine calibration helps to avoid potential recalls, due to bad batches, through obtaining reliable and accurately measured values. Many regulation and management standards for food quality stress the importance of calibration. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control (HACCP) regulations that are mandated for meat and poultry, seafood and juice references “verification records that document the calibration of process monitoring instruments.” ISO22000, the food safety management system’s requirements, states in Section 8.3, “The organization shall provide evidence that the specified monitoring and measuring methods and equipment are adequate to ensure the performance of the monitoring and measuring procedures”. Both require documentation of calibration activities to monitor the performance of equipment. Effective procedures for calibration and quality assurance can help achieve this.

Due to wear over time, instruments require calibration at set intervals. This is to ensure equipment is running at prime conditions. Putting off calibration can cause a variety of quality and compliance issues which could result in product recalls and heavy costs.

Don’t be a recall statistic. Our custom engineered solutions team will analyze your current production process and look for ways to increase efficiency as well as quality! Rely on us to keep track of your calibration needs. When a year has passed, we’ll remind you to schedule calibration! Not to mention the new and improved CERTLINK. CERTLINK is our customer portal that will allow you access to all of your calibration certificates and schedules. Reach out to us for more information!

SOURCES:

USDA

Food Safety Magazine

Process Industry Informer

“Rewriting” the Food Industry with Custom Solutions

Project


A national food products manufacturer located in Michigan had issues with their scales and printing program. The company was a long-time customer of Grand Rapids Metrology and was well aware of our extensive scope of metrology capabilities, including weighing solutions.

The system used prior selected a product to be weighed and then printed a label that was placed on a corresponding storage tote. The current label did not contain enough data to meet the customer’s needs. They contacted GRM to edit their existing system so it could include more relevant and timely information on the printed label.

Initial Needs & Challenges


In order to comply with specific food-industry regulations, the food product company needed to add Date of Manufacture and Lot Number. A Lot Number identifies the product’s expiration date, scale and shift.

An initial challenge was to determine how the current program was operating and what needed to be modified to accomplish the customer’s project. To do this, our engineer’s downloaded the existing program from the scale units. After the download, the team noticed several modifications had previously been made to the program which presented challenges when it came time to edit the program’s operation.

Solution


After addressing the needs and challenges of our customer, Grand Rapids Metrology developed a solution focused on rewriting a portion of the existing program to clean up the previous modification. During the rewrite, our team added the Date of Manufacture and Lot Number to meet the customer requirements of the revised labels. The Days until Expiration information was not printed but stored as data within the system. From that, the Expiration Date was automatically calculated.

Here is the label crafted by GRM and used everyday by the customer:

The data produced from GRM’s label is very specific and time-bound. Before this solution, the customer printed a label with much less information, as seen here:

Results


After Grand Rapids Metrology’s weighing solution was implemented, the program rewrite and label modification gave the customer traceability on labels regarding the Date of Manufacture, Expiration Date, Line Number and Shift.

Aside from fulfilling the customer’s requirement, the rewrite meet labeling standards set forth by food industry regulations. The new program also eliminated human error in the calculation of the expiration date and alleviated the tedious work of the manual calculation. The customer was so pleased with the results they asked GRM to implement the program for two additional scales at their facility.

Making operations quicker, more efficient and more accurate is what we do! To start a solution project of your own, contact us and we’ll help make your life a little easier.