The other day, I purchased pork & apple burgers from the local farmers’ market. The first 3 went down a treat, shared between myself, my daughter and my husband. But suddenly in the 4th one, my husband discovered a squashed piece of metal. Knowing his history of cracked  dental fillings I was all for persuading him it was a piece of alum…but no, it was a piece of metal shot.

Images of the farmer taking pot shots at flying-pigs rather than pheasants, leapt to my colleague’s mind as I retold this story. But seriously folks, this is a food safety issue. Bearing in mind, the day before, my daughter had chucked out her pizza because it had insects cooked into it, I felt inspired to check other incidents out.


When you see what has been found in the records from  our public health database, Global Health, you can understand why “Foreign material in foods (glass, plastic, metal, etc.) is the biggest single source of customer complaints received by many food manufacturers, retailers and enforcement authorities”…


Consumers don’t then complain about poor tasting food to manufacturers!

What records on weird & wonderful items have I found in your food? Ones that should not be there…not like the brass rings in barnbrack, the traditional irish soda bread.


(“Food contamination” and “foreign bodies”) is a good search-string to use in Global Health, but far better is to use the cabicode system, as we have  a cabicode term  QQ200 devoted entirely to Food contamination, toxiclogy and residues. Cabicodes make searching an entire concept so easy.  Using cabicode QQ200  alone, yields 74 records. and a selection of records retrieved is in the reference list below.


Another relevant searchstring is :

de: (foreign bodies)

which  yields 271 records and tells you about the problems which occur when you get as far as actually eating & swallowing the foreign object.


Objects (disease-causing organisms not included) such as:

burnt matter

synthetic  matter

vegetable material

sand grains

human and rodent hair

insects, larvae, mites, moths




Many of the records refer to detection methods…including a whole book devoted to it4 which includes a chapter on using magnets (which would have removed the shot in our burger). Every chapter has a separate record in our database, which clearly enables a user to establish quickly if the book is relevant to their particular needs. Other than in this book, the methods described in journal articles include ultrasound, soft X-rays and optical imaging.


  Amongst other references I have included: 5  which illustrates the dangers of eating foreign bodies and 6  which is from 1976, and since the advent of BSE, hopefully is no longer an issue for western countries. It describes a Canadian experiment to see if chickens fed garbage will prove a food hazard for the consumer, if, along with the garbage, they also consume broken glass. Domestic garbage may well contain glass particles, if its’ not been separated for recycling


References (available to subscribers of Global Health)

  1. Research of dirtiness and strange materials in bee (Apis mellifera L.) honey.  (Pesquisa de sujidades e matĂ©rias estranhas em mel de abelhas (Apis mellifera L.). J. CiĂŞncia e Tecnologia de Alimentos 2008 Vol. 28 No. 1 pp. 32-33

  2. Microscopic quality indicators of minas frescal cheese. J. Food Control 2008 Vol. 19 No. 1 pp. 71-75
  3. The use of light microscopy in a study of extraneous matter and authenticity of guava, strawberry and grape jams. J. Food Control 2004 Vol. 15 No. 6 pp. 497-499
  4. Detecting foreign bodies in food. Detecting foreign bodies in food 2004 pp. xxii + 306 pp. Edwards, M. ( Book, 15 chapters)
  5. Endobronchial foreign bodies in Vietnamese adults are related to eating habits. J.  Respirology 2010 Vol. 15 No. 3 pp. 491-494
  6. Rapid and on-line instrumentation for food quality assurance. Tothill, I.E. Book, 19 chapters)


1 Comment

  1. Marija on 10th June 2010 at 9:40 pm

    Is this is a true what BBC say:Being short ‘raises heart risk’
    Look this:

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