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Thermo Fisher Scientific opens contamination screening center

By Jenni Spinner , 04-Jun-2013

Thermo Fisher Scientific has opened a contamination detection facility in Texas.
Thermo Fisher Scientific has opened a contamination detection facility in Texas.

Thermo Fisher Scientific has opened a product contamination evaluation facility in Sugar Land, TX to help food manufacturers tackle safety and quality concerns.

With the moniker Product Assurance Services and Solutions (PASS) the center gives food companies looking for thorough evaluation of packaged food products due to contamination concerns, such as metal debris. Further, the facility can check for processing anomalies (such as clumps) and missing components (such as partially filled product trays).

Checking integrity and quality

Carl Palmer, North America PASS manager, told FoodProductionDaily that the facility can help manufacturers rest assured about the quality and integrity of the product that reaches customers.

Companies ship the product to us, where we 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,” he said.

Equipment on hand

Thermo Fisher Scientific manufactures metal detectors, X-ray inspection equipment and checkweighers.  The facility is set up with detection equipment, in such a way that staff can create multiple lines and change around equipment as the demands of specific projects dictate.

We are here to help customers get answers quickly and accurately so that product recalls are avoided,” said Palmer. “Since we manufacture and sell state-of-the art metal detectors and X-ray equipment globally, we have access to the very latest technology and know the ideal operating parameters.  If needed, we also can quickly obtain additional equipment to facilitate rapid evaluation of multiple truckload quantities.” 

Palmer said that companies typically have internal detection equipment but could still benefit from the services offered at the PASS facility in a number of ways.

Companies that send products to the PASS facility typically do have internal contamination detection equipment,” he said. “However, they might have a metal detector only and they may need to check for glass or plastic, for example, which metal detectors cannot find. They may have both metal detectors and X-ray equipment, however, they believe that the contamination may have occurred downstream to those pieces of equipment and therefore need external testing.”

Palmer added that companies might not have the time, footprint, or staff available to conduct internal reviews.

Product type

The PASS facility can inspect a range of packaging types, such as metal, glass, plastic or paper packaging types. This includes both rigid and flexible structures such as steel cans, metalized film, plastic bottles, blister packs, folding cartons, multilayer materials and others. 

The Sugar Land facility, near Houston, is the second PASS facility in the US. The first, in Barrington, IL, opened in 2010. The company also has a facility in Rugby, UK, to serve Europe.

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