Are foreign objects a common cause of food recalls?
Christof Bentele: Yes, indeed. Plastic pieces, in particular, are the most difficult to detect in comparison to other materials, such as metals, which are easily flagged with metal detectors. In most cases, contamination is caused by a very small piece of production machinery failing and breaking; other sources may include objects used in the cleaning process or fragments which have fallen into the production line simply by accident. Regardless, no matter how small the piece or contaminant, reputable companies want to ensure consumer safety and existing food safety regulations enforce such action.
Often millions of products are recalled, even though only a very small number are actually poisoned.
Bentele: Given today’s mass production, a widespread recall does not mean that all products are contaminated, but rather, a mass recall reflects a highly concentrated production source, with high output levels. As such, the most prudent approach for a manufacturer to take is to recall any product which could potentially have been affected during a production run, or that has been created by a faulty machine.