Sainsbury Warns of Metal in Bread

Another News Story About Metal Contamination in Food

Sainsbury has recalled bread that potentially contains fragments of metal, reports Food Manufacture.  The announcement was made on Monday 18th January after a warning from their bread supplier.


Food recalls due to metal contamination are far too frequent (The Damage of Metal Contaminated Food – September 2015), especially when there is a range of technology to remove and detect metal at various stages within a food manufacturing process.

So what exactly is the problem?

The vast majority of major food processors have installed technology to remove and detect metal including Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors.  Magnetic Separators are commonly used early in a process, removing metal from ingredients (e.g. in the case of bread, from flour and grains), whilst Metal Detectors are able to identify metal contained in finished products (e.g. in a final loaf of bread, even after packaging).

Whilst working closely with food processors, a number of potential issues have been identified including:

  • Changes in the process.  Every time a process changes then the metal separation and detection technology needs reviewing.  Adjustments may be necessary to maintain the level of protection against metal contamination including relocating equipment, resetting sensitivities or installing additional equipment;
  • Changes in the technology.  Magnetic Separators have a very long life, but technological developments with magnets means that newer models are stronger and enable far better and higher levels of metal separation;
  • Damage to in-situ equipment.  Installed equipment can get damaged or even lost over time and needs to be regularly checked as part of a Quality Audit to ensure that all separation and detection systems are in place;
  • Correct use and maintenance of installed equipment.  This could be as simple as Magnetic Separators not being cleaned (and, therefore, no longer captures metal) and new workers not being trained sufficiently to correct operate a Metal Detector.

Some food suppliers, such as UK retailer Marks & Spencer, introduced vigorous checking procedures to address and prevent metal contamination problems.  They stipulated that to be part of their food supply chain, suppliers had to have Magnetic Separators and Metal Detectors installed and that these had to be audited annually.

Subsequently, we [Bunting Magnetics] support many food producers and processors, assessing and reviewing their processes and production lines to advise on the best way to prevent contamination from metal.  These Metal Separation Audits give companies reassurance, but also helps them continually improve.  An audit commonly does not result in a need for additional equipment, but to more effectively utilise what is already installed.

Only one thing is certain and that is the continued presence of metal at some stage or stages in a food process.  The key to preventing product recalls due to metal contamination, such as the one announced by Sainsbury on Monday, is to have the best possible Magnetic Separation and Metal Detection technology installed and to undertake regular and vigorous reviews.

For further information please contact Bunting on:

A Record 2015, but Concerns About 2016?

Magnet and Magnetic Separation Sales Growth in 2015 for Bunting

Simon Ayling, Bunting Magnetics Europe Ltd’s Managing Director, has recently been discussing another record year for sales at the Berkhamsted UK based Magnet, Magnetic Assembly and Magnetic Separator manufacturer, but are there concerns for 2016?

Simon Ayling Interview at RWM2015

“We [Bunting] have had several really strong years of growth, but the recent global economic developments do give us cause for concern.  The PRW magazine has just reported that the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) is concerned about the outlook for UK manufacturers, an opinion that appears to continually crop up in the media,” said Simon.

“Only this week, as reported by BBC News, turbulence in the Chinese stock market has sent waves of uncertainty across the globe.  Will this have an effect on business confidence in Europe?  Well, you have to say that it will.  Already we are working with customers in the recycling sector who are having to manage their businesses with a far lower income due to falling metal prices.  The ripples of economic uncertainty will reach other industrial sectors as well.”

“However, the market has been challenging since 2008 and UK manufacturers just need to focus on what we do well and strive for continual improvement and innovation.  Last year we launched a new Magnetic Separator for Stainless Steel and this year we will be looking to launch new products from our Magnet, Magnetic Assembly and Magnetic Separation product ranges.  Expanding into new markets is also important and we are developing our export sales channels in Europe as there are significant opportunities despite the economic climate.”

Simon added, “Every year brings different challenges, but also opportunities.  To maintain growth is probably harder now than in recent living memory, but with creative thinking and a clear plan, we expect to continue our sales expansion.”

Simon welcomes comments from other UK Manufacturers on the outlook for 2016 which can then be shared.  Please post these below.

For further information on Simon Ayling’s thoughts on the challenges and opportunities facing UK Manufacturers in 2016, please contact him by email on

Further information on Bunting Magnetics can be found on their website.