New technologies to enhance safety in beverage production

Food and beverage manufacturers are in a constant battle with food safety as contamination incidents and food scandals continue to endanger public health and shake consumer confidence.

Product–related risks are one of the greatest perils faced by the food industry today. Defective products can pose serious safety risks to the public and result in financial and reputational loss to the companies concerned. Despite enhanced safety standards and developing technologies, contamination still occurs regularly in food processing, and the increasing frequency of product recalls is alarming. Undeclared allergens and microbiological contamination are some of the major threats; this is further exacerbated by complex global markets and supply chains, with products travelling across more facilities and various markets.

In terms of beverage production, fruit juice, based on ingredient solutions provider Kerry’s recent research, was cited as second menu item (behind meat) as a food safety worry. Keeping a beverage protected over its shelf life is no easy task, given the availability of new plant protein beverages amid rising consumer demand for familiar-sounding preservative ingredients in foods and beverages. To that end, beverage contamination remains one of the common causes of product recall.

The types of contamination can vary, from cross-contamination to the particle, microbial and bacterial. In Aug 2022, contract manufacturer Lyons Magnus issued a voluntary recall for 53 products due to potential bacterial contamination. The products ranged from milk alternatives to pre-packaged coffees to protein shakes, and other nutritional beverages. The potential contamination was attributed to the presence of the cronobacter sakasakii pathogen. In Europe, product recalls continued to increase across five key industries in the second quarter of 2023, rising 7.8% from the previous quarter. This marks the fourth consecutive quarterly increase and the highest level of recall activity recorded in a single quarter for more than 10 years, according Sedgwick’s latest edition of the 2023 European product recall index. Meanwhile, recalls from the food and beverage sector rose by 2.3%.

“Along with supply chain disruptions and challenges, exacerbated by climate change and economic uncertainty, the food industry has to stay alert to threats posed by product contamination. This issue is a major concern as customers demand more transparency for the products they consume,” said Nalin Amunugama, general manager of BOGE Kompressoren Asia-Pacific.

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