Fake M&M’s?

traditional-chinese-898567_1920Add to Technorati FavoritesMost people around the world have heard about the medicinal benefits of Chinese herbal remedies. These time tested traditional potions have maintained the one of the worlds largest and indeed greatest cultures for thousands of years. Today, few would dispute the benefits of herbal medicines in the hands of experienced and reputable practitioners.

In the advent of the computer age Chinese traditional medicine has gained a great deal of exposure through the Internet. Now there are a great many companies which sell herbal medicines over the Internet. Herbs, like all other organic substances are susceptible to all sorts of microbial infestations which can greatly compromise the quality of the plant and hence the product which you buy. Herbs infested with moulds, viruses or any of the many types of bacteria can loose most if not all of their beneficial medicinal properties and can even become dangerous to consume.

Herbs which are used in traditional Chinese medicine, like any other other cash crop are grown in fields or collected from the wild, they are then harvested, graded,cut to size,dehydrated, checked by quality control (hopefully), packed, stored in warehouses and finally shipped to the store where you buy them or sent directly to you if you buy via direct marketing routes. As you can see, plants used in traditional medicine go through many handling processes before they become the final product which you but. Every time the plant is handled, something of it’s original integrity and quality is lost. This is inevitable in any industry and each stage presents opportunities for cross contamination if the product is handled improperly. As with any product good manufacturing procedures (GMP) are an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, not all people who market traditional Chinese herbs are reputable manufacturers and great care must be taken in choosing which company to buy from.

Usually, the more high tech the facilities of a factory are, the higher product standards will be. Today, a number of Chinese companies are offering medicinal herbs in freeze dried form The advantages of freeze drying are that the raw materials used have to be of a high standard to ensure a stable end product. Secondly, freeze drying is a great way of preserving as many of the original qualities of the plant as possible. Thirdly, because freeze drying is a very quick process, there is no tome for bacterial or mould spores to form and oxidization is prevented. This means that from a food hygiene standpoint you are safeguarded against such micro organisms forming during usage. Fourthly, Freeze dried products deteriorate at a much slower rate than with other methods that are in use, among other things this means that the anti oxidizing properties of the plant(s) are preserved.

Freeze drying also permits the manufacturer to be very inventive during the manufacturing process. He can make blends that are intended to ensure that you the customer get a guaranteed strength of active ingredient and he can also blend different types of herbs to formulate products to make ready to use infusions for specific medical conditions. In addition, ingredients which make a product more palatable can also be added.

Some of these companies claim to have hundreds of blends in their product range which cover a great many medical requirements. If you intend to use traditional Chinese medicine I would strongly recommend that you investigate the possibilities offered by freeze dried technology.

salmonella-549608_1280Today’s post is a story that I heard from a colleague about a vegetable processing plant that became infected with salmonella and e. coli.

Please understand that this is a major international company and it is for this reason that I cannot disclose any names in the content of this article. This particular plant buys vegetables of all sorts directly from large farms and after grading, cleaning and sorting the vegetables are frozen and packed for the consumer and institutional markets.

The company in question works with just two or three trucking companies which bring the raw materials to the plant and deliver shipments of finished product to the local and foreign markets. Good relationships had been established with the trucking companies which included both the haulage companies and the factory itself helping each other out as much as possible as a matter of course. This factory had the best weigh bridge in the area and one of the favors that was performed on an ongoing basis was to weigh trucks of the said three companies even though the payload of the trucks had nothing to do with the business of the factory.

Complaints had been arriving at the factory’s quality control department stating that their products had tested positive for salmonella and e.coli. The factory checked all of their production lines to check that everything was working as it should and indeed no faults were found inside the factory itself.

A decision was taken to bring in an expert in the area of HACCP’s. and indeed it took him a mere five minutes to discover the source of the problem. Many different types of trucks were coming in to be weighed. Among them were trucks hauling the following cargoes: cages for chickens and turkeys being shipped from farms to slaughter houses, deep litter from dairy farms and poultry farms, various types of manure, and soil.

Trucks carrying these loads often waited for quite some time alongside trucks hauling vegetables for the factory itself. Dust and spray that inevitably flew from one truck to another was enough to cause the cross contamination of the vegetables with whatever the other truck was hauling.. This was a very basic and critical flaw in the work procedures and food hygiene standards of this particular factory. This situation was more than enough to cause this food hygiene crisis for this particular factory.

A decision was instantly taken to stop the weighbridge service to all trucks not carrying vegetables specifically for the plant. In this particular case, good intentions led to a very bad result.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Are you really sure that your favorite snacks are actually manufactured by the companies who’s names are on the wrapping?

Did you think that fake merchandise from the Far East only referred to wrist watches, CD’s, DVD’s and designer Labels?  If you have never thought about this question in depth, it may be time to do so. It has recently been discovered that many of the world’s favorite snacks are being fraudulently copied by various companies in the Far East.

World famous snacks are being produced to look and taste exactly the same as the original product.
Even “last sell my dates”, “dates of production”, company details and list of ingredients that must be printed by law on the wrapping of every product are carefully planned to coincide with the production details of the original companies’. Everything is planned right down to the last detail so as to elude the suspicions of government inspectors, retailers and consumers alike.

All of the companies that manufacture these fraudulent products are 100% sure that you the consumer will not be able to taste the difference between their fakes and the original product because they are identical in every way to the original.

Import companies all around the globe are tempted and lured by the prospect of lower prices and higher profit margins. Both the shops that sell the products and you the consumer are completely unaware of the conspiracy.  After all, you are getting a completely identical product in every way, right?

Wrong! In fact you are actually getting more than you paid for. The added ingredients come in the form of potentially dangerous  bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, listeria. These and other forms of microorganisms have been found in snacks that have been copied in the Far East. Tests to discover such activities have been carried  out by several government health authorities and by the quality control departments of the companies whose products have been copied and whose reputations have been damaged.

We also need to realize that international standards organizations such as ISO, GMP or HACCP will have nothing to do with companies that are faking the products of other reputable and responsible companies. This means that there is no control or information about how these products are produced. Hygiene standards are likely to be low and cleaning regimes may be waved.

Original manufacturers such as Nestle, Cadbury’s, Hershey’s and many other companies go to great length’s to ensure that you are buy a safe and hygienic product. They test all the ingredients that go into a product and they also test the all the parameters of the production of the final product. A large part of the cost of the product goes to cover the cost of quality control. With fake products, hygiene and quality may be the last thing on the mind of the manufacturer.

Reputable food companies now find that they now have to contend with this snack piracy on a continual basis. They are also finding that they, who had no part in the production of these imitation products, now have to continually check for fakes on shop shelves around the world and take responsibility for the correction of such infringes upon the reputation of their own company name.

In several countries, authorities were alerted to counterfeit snacks on the shelves of shops when complaints of food contamination were gathered from hospitals. After indentifying snacks as the cause importers were forced to recall all of the offending products and are now having to answer to legal allegations by national health and safety authorities. Several such companies now face loosing their import licenses, receiving hefty fines and being given periods of jail time.

Practices such as these are common in our day and age. Activities like these are responsible in part for the increase in the instances of food poisoning around the world.
Could this be the wake up call you have been waiting for regarding the quantity of snacks you eat?

© 2019 Food Hygiene Essentials