IFFA 2019, a leading trade show targeting the meat industry, is set to take place between May 4-9, 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany.
In anticipation of the event, the organizers sat down with Richard Clemens, general manager of the Food and Packaging Machinery Division of the Association of German Machine and Plant Manufacturers to talk about the very important issue of food safety. The topic will be further expanded upon during the event in May.
While the manufacture of safe and hygienically acceptable products is a matter of top priority in the butchering and meat processing trades, recalls of foodstuffs are on the rise in the food industry. According to Clemens this is due to “micro-biological contamination, foreign bodies, inadequate labelling, together with violations of limits with regard to controlled and banned ingredients which are the most common sources of complaint, as reported by the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL). Subsequent investigations have almost always thrown up the same picture, namely that the cases can be overwhelmingly traced back to human negligence, less frequently to technical failure. And, unfortunately, there are black sheep in every sector, who will deliberately flout the legal regulations with thoroughly criminal energy, in order to get advantage for their business. In effect it amounts to food fraud.”
When asked about the measures that should be implemented to exclude or at least reduce the risks of microbiological contamination Clemens said that “the meat-processing industry remains heavily dependent on manual handling. As a result, people continue to be the greatest hygiene risk as far as the transmission of germs throughout the value-creation chain is concerned. Principally in areas where there is direct contact between the workforce and the products. An important step towards greater food safety, therefore, is to replace manual activity with automated processes as extensively as possible. One example of this is the fully automated portioning and insertion of fillets, steaks and cold cuts into the packaging by means of dispensing units and industrial robots.”
Speaking about the technologies available today to prevent contamination with foreign bodies Clemens noted that “contamination with foreign bodies in meat and sausage products can occur anywhere along the entire production chain. From a broken knife in the cutting room, for instance, or an overlooked screw or sealing gasket during unplanned maintenance or repair work. Other sources of this kind of contamination are material failure and bits of the machinery or plant breaking off as a result of wear. Foreign bodies can be picked up by means of an inspection system with, say, metal detectors or X-ray equipment. Metal detectors are an efficient and cost-effective way of picking out ferrous and non-ferrous metals, as well as plastics or plastic film containing metallic powder, in both food and packaging. More frequently than metallic foreign bodies, however, it is things like stones, glass, bone or plastics that appear in products. And this is where X-ray technology can be used, as it offers a broad spectrum of tests for almost all types of foreign body. Used in combination with weight checks, it is possible to monitor several criteria at the same time in both packaged and unpackaged foodstuffs.”
Food safety will be one of the top themes at this year’s IFFA 2019. On top of that, visitors will have access to all the latest information regarding the most important trends and developments in the meat-processing industry.