Food safety facility gives contamination a PASS

By Jenni Spinner contact

- Last updated on GMT

Thermo Fisher Scientific's PASS facilities tackle challinging contamination and processing problems for packaged food clients.
Thermo Fisher Scientific's PASS facilities tackle challinging contamination and processing problems for packaged food clients.
Thermo Fisher Scientific has opened the doors to a specialized facility that tackles contamination and product anomalies in consumer packaged foods.

The Product Assurance Services and Solutions (PASS) facility provides one-stop shopping for food and beverage operators looking to check their packaged products when safety and quality concerns pop up.

In addition to foreign-object contamination, PASS staff can inspect items for processing and packaging anomalies, such as clumps, broken or missing components, and other problems.

Saving space and time

Darren Eaton, global manager of PASS operations for Thermo Fisher Scientific, told FoodProductionDaily the service assists food and beverage manufacturers who don’t have the same large arsenal of detection tools as the specialized facility (located in Sunnyvale, California) has at its disposal.

Typically, food manufacturers don’t have the time, capability, access to multiple idle detection machines and/or the floor space required to do a thorough review, so they look to an off-site solutions provider​,” he said. “The objective is to quickly evaluate, identify contaminants, remove the problematic packages and return the ‘good’ product back to the manufacturer so that it can continue on its distribution journey​.”

Eaton related the recent experience of a major international food producer, which was faced with some troublesome, puzzling contamination issues. The producer turned to the UK-based PASS operation, which inspected more than 2000 pallets, allowing the customer to continue to sell their products until on line equipment was installed.

Packaging prowess

PASS staff can handle a range of metal, glass, plastic, or paper packaging types, with either rigid and flexible structures (such as steel cans, metalized film, plastic bottles, blister packs, folding cartons, and multilayer materials). In addition to the PASS site contamination and anomaly screening, technicians can travel to local production plants to perform onsite services. 

Sunnyvale, California, is located in Central Valley, an agricultural center that produces a diverse range of edible crops. Eaton told FPD the PASS location is strategically situated to serve the bustling food market.

By locating this facility in close proximity to this high production area, we help reduce the turnaround time and expense associated with urgent product contamination inspection issues​,” he said.

The California PASS facility is the third such location; Thermo Fischer Scientific also has PASS facilities in Barrington, Illinois; and Rugby, UK. Combined, the facilities inspected an estimated 8m packages in 2013.

Related topics: R&D, Regulation and safety

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