What Is The Best Way to Reduce the Risk of Foreign Body Contamination?

In this article, we explore the many reasons why 'prevention before detection' is the safest approach to foreign body and contamination control.
Foreign body contamination

Preventing foreign body contamination is a critical part of every production process, especially the ones that take place within food, beverage, and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

When it comes to foreign body contamination, brand perception and consumer loyalty are at risk, with the potential impact on job security and your bottom line impossible to overstate. The technology behind foreign body detection has advanced massively, but the numbers for product recalls and line stoppages are still so high.

So, what’s the solution?

We believe the answer lies in three simple words: prevention before detection. 

Instead of relying on detectors to identify foreign bodies after they have already entered your product, you should be doing everything in your power to reduce the risk of this happening in the first place. In this article, we will be explaining how you can do this in relation to your pens.  

How do the requirements outlined in BRCGS Version 9 relate to the concept of prevention before detection?

The first step is to take a closer look at the guidance provided in Version 9 of the BRCGS Global Food Safety Standard. This will help you to ensure your site is in line with current trends and specifications. It will also help you to prepare for any upcoming audits or visits from your customers.


In terms of pen use, Clause of Version 9 is where you will find the information most relevant to you and your site. One particular quote has already had a significant impact on conversations surrounding stationery and other handheld equipment.

“Portable handheld equipment, e.g. stationery (pens, pencils etc.), mobile phones, tablets and similar portable items used in open product areas shall be controlled to minimise risk of physical contamination.” 

(BRCGS9 Ref. 

Put simply, Version 9 encourages sites to take the following steps: 

  • Exclude non-approved items 
  • Ensure all equipment is site-issued 
  • Ensure any portable, handheld equipment has been designed to prevent foreign body contamination – detectable and without too many small parts 

Although the BRCGS Standard references the importance of detectable equipment, it places a real emphasis on the work that comes before detection, with the right equipment significantly reducing the risk of foreign bodies entering your product in the first place. 

How can Retreeva pens help you to prevent foreign body contamination?

1. Retreeva pens contain the minimum number of components

Retreeva pens feature a maximum of three parts. This significantly reduces the risk of small items flying off your pens and into your product. All these parts are metal and x-ray detectable, but it is worth remembering that to pick up on an item this small, you would need to adjust your detector to an incredibly sensitive setting. This could be an issue if your site handles wet products such as dairy and ready meals. 


Even products that don’t contain metal have a ‘background signal’ that is picked up by detectors, but wet products have a much higher signal than dry alternatives. Adjusting your detector to find small items from your pens could result in your wet products triggering the detector. They would then be falsely rejected, costing your factory a lot of time and money. This is another reason that we advocate for: prevention before detection.  

2. Retreeva pens do not contain metal springs

As previously mentioned, small items are incredibly hard to detect without first putting the success of your production line at risk. This makes the inclusion of metal springs a big concern.


Unlike the majority of pens in use across the globe, Retreeva pens do not contain metal springsThey do, however, feature a unique cartridge suspension system that provides a firm writing experience. This means that you don’t have to compromise on either the safety or effectiveness of your pens, enjoying the smooth feel of a spring pen, without any of the unnecessary risks.  

3. Retreeva pens are shatterproof

Made from a specially formulated material that does not shatter under duress, Retreeva pens are shatterproof. If they are subjected to unnatural or unreasonable force, our pens may bend or eventually break into two parts. Even then, they sit above a standard model, as each part can be accounted for and disposed of effectively.

Replacement Refills

This is very different to pens made from a more brittle material that can shatter, as if they break, they will create a great deal of small shards that will spread far and wide in an uncontrolled manner. It will then be impossible for your operatives to locate every fragment, with those left unattended likely to enter the production line. What’s more, metal and x-ray detectors will have an even harder job detecting these pieces due to their minuscule size.  

If a production line grinds to a halt, the downtime costs a significant amount of money. This is also true of products that have been rejected by metal detectors. When it is possible to control these risks in the first place, there is no need for such costs to occur.

Here at Retreeva Global we reflect this outlook through our policy of prevention before detection, along with our range of high quality pens that have been designed with this ethos in mind. In our opinion, it is not only the safest approach for foreign body and contamination control, but the only approach worth taking.