This article is written to meet the following sections of the Standards:

BRCGS Food Safety Issue 84.9.4 Products packed into glass or other brittle containers
BRCGS Packaging Issue 6No specific clauses, even for sites making glass containers
BRCGS Agents & Brokers Issue 3Not applicable
BRCGS Storage & Distribution Issue 4Not applicable
FSSC22000 Version 5.1No specific clauses
IFS Food Version 74.12.7 Glass containers
SQF Edition 9No specific clauses

Scope

Glass, ceramic and brittle materials used in the make-up of the finished product, must be controlled to ensure that they don’t contaminate the final consumer product.

This isn’t to be confused with the control of glass and brittle materials, which solely looks at brittle materials in the processing facility.

Purpose

The aim of this section is to ensure that the processing area is kept clear of broken glass, ceramics and brittle containers, to prevent product contamination.

Procedure

There must be a procedure in place, which controls the use and breakage of containers. This must include:

  • Identification of the area where the product is at-risk.
  • Storage.
  • Breakage procedure.
  • Cleaning equipment.
  • Waste.
  • Records.
  • Trending.

Storage

Empty containers must be segregated from the storage of other materials. The area must be located to minimise the risk of broken fragments being carried into other areas, by the movement of equipment.

Breakage procedure

A procedure must be in place to manage container breakages, which includes how to handle at-risk materials and that the area must be inspected prior to restarting.

Cleaning equipment

Cleaning equipment must be identifiable, so that it’s only used for cleaning container breakages. The methods used in cleaning must be designed to limit the spread of the contamination.

Waste

Waste containers must be specific for their use and identifiable. It’s good practice for them to also be secure, to prevent unauthorised staff accessing them.Records

Records must be kept of container breakages, and all related information about the breakage must be documented. Where there hasn’t been a breakage, this must be positively confirmed at a set frequency.

Trending

Container breakages must be trended and then reviewed, to identify improvements to prevent future breakages.

Control of brittle containers

It’s widely understood that glass and ceramic containers need to be controlled, but don’t forget the brittle containers. This would include any CPET packaging or any acetates. It’s unlikely they’ll need a breakage procedure as they don’t shatter when dropped, but they’re known to break and cause contamination of other containers. For example, the edges tend to break and drop into the next container. So if you use this type of packaging, think about the controls you have in place for this type of breakage. It’s a good idea to log broken pieces, so that they can be trended.

Control of containers at packaging manufacturers

Interestingly, only the BRCGS Food Standard asks for control of containers. If you produce the containers though, you don’t need to control them – or at least there isn’t any specific requirements for it. The manufacturer would be expected to include it in their Product Safety Plan.

This means that in theory, a manufacturer of glass jars has to have a breakage procedure for a light in the production area (which is high up and unlikely to break), but no breakage procedure for when glass containers are broken on the line (which happens all the time).

Makes sense…not really!

Need help with your contamination control?

This article is an overview of the subject of utility contamination control. Contamination control is one of the most important prerequisite controls, to support the Product Safety Plan and our eDocs are here to help you save valuable time.

Contamination control

Contamination Control eDocs

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Allergens:
This pack includes a detailed procedure which explains how the allergen risk assessment will be carried out and how the allergen controls will be implemented. You’re also provided with detailed allergen controls, so all you need to do is identify which ones meet your needs, adapt and implement them.

Chemicals:
The pack details chemical verification, approval, storage, spills and training. Plus, utilities in the form of gas, air and water are covered too.

Glass, brittle plastics, and ceramics:
A risk assessment for glass, brittle plastics and ceramics is needed. Again this pack provides you with detailed instructions on how to carry out the risk assessment, using a decision tree which will define the frequency of the conditional-based checks that are needed. Once you’ve defined what needs checking and when, you’re provided with the records you need so you can populate and implement them.

If your site packs into glass, brittle plastic or ceramic containers – this is covered too, to ensure that the risk of containers contaminating the product is controlled.

Metal sharps:
Finally, metal sharps for items like knives, wood control and other hazards are also included.

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