As a strategic partner to Heinz we understand the importance household names put on protecting their brand, and that a focus on food safety is critical to delivering quality and safe ingredients year round. Heinz approached us to solve a problem they were having with contamination in their peppers from string netting, stalk and seeds. The peppers were supplied by a UK trading company from a factory in Europe.
We utilized our sorting technology to identify exactly what type of contamination was in the peppers and from that we could investigate where it was coming from. The first step was to trace contamination back to its source, looking at how the product is grown and harvested was important, we learned that the peppers were harvested by hand put into red netted sacks to be transported to the factory. The same red netting we found in the product.
From here we looked at all the sorting results we have on peppers and identified which factories were supplying product with the lowest levels of contaminants. We selected a factory to work with in Turkey, from here we visited the factory and followed the process from the field right through the factory to look for areas in the process which could be improved or altered to decrease the risks from contaminants. The supplier owned the land and grew the crop, product was not being purchased on the open market, this greatly improved the traceability and this was important from a contaminant management perspective. This supplier was also using the red netting as a method of storing the peppers between the harvesting and processing. This was the first this we changed and insisted that a crate system was put in place in order to eradicate the red netting.
Hartleys Technical Manger Sheena visited the Turkish factory several times as the project took off and made many changes to the process which had a significant effect of the levels of contamination we were finding in the end product. Across a period of 18 months through working closely with the supplier and managing the food safety risks we were able to reduce the need for 100% sorting on peppers down to 0% sorting. As a matter of due diligence we still sort randomly selected batches of product from this supplier to ensure they are still meeting our rigorous food safety standards.