Unisto’s market innovation - Detectable security seal prevents product recalls for food

Posted: Friday, 26 October 2018 @ 14:15

With its newly developed security seal Unisto Pharmaflex Detect, Unisto has once again demonstrated its status as pioneer on the market. If the security seal or parts of it knocks off and accidentally end up in the food, a metal detector or X-ray machine can identify them and sort them out. This is possible due to a specially manufactured plastic compound with detectable filler. In this way, safety processes can be further optimised, in that the risk of contamination is minimised and product recalls can be prevented. 


Imagine this scenario, in your quality products – in the food value chain for example – a customer finds fragments of foreign materials. Not to mention what would happen if the end customer swallowed these foreign objects. These instances occur more often than you would perhaps think. You have surely already heard in the media that food have had to be recalled because foreign bodies such as plastic particles were found in end products. There is a high risk of suffocation for end consumers in the case of larger foreign bodies, since they may get stuck and block the respiratory tracts to a great extent. The consequences carry heavy financial costs for manufacturers, and subsequent damage to the company’s image is, for the most part, unavoidable.

Here are a few current or well known recalls as an example:

■ plastic parts in ‘Landjunker Hackfleisch gemischt, 500g’ (Landjunker minced meat, mixed, 500g) (14 July 2017, Germany)

■ plastic parts in ‘Frozen Meat Free Mince’ (28 June 2017, England)

■ plastic parts in ‘innocent Super Smoothie Antioxidant’ (27 May 2017, Austria)

■ plastic particles in chocolate products of the brands MARS®, SNICKERS®, MILKY WAY® and CELEBRATIONS® (7 March 2016).

In general, the numbers of recorded recalls of food products contaminated with pieces of plastic or rubber have more than doubled in 2016, according to a report by the trade magazine ‘Quality Assurance & Food Safety’. 

Process optimisation to the next level

The safety of food must be brought to the highest possible level in order to protect the end user. Detectable cable ties, tags, writing material, etc. have already been established in the food industry. The security seal Unisto Pharmaflex Detect, which has been on the market since September 2017, is thus contributing to the increased safety of food. Sealing the container with a security seal prevents unwanted foreign material from making its way into products and goods that are still to be processed. In addition, thanks to a specially food compliant plastic compound with a detectable filler, the entire security seal or parts of it which have been accidentally knocked off can be identified and removed using a metal detector or X-ray machine. In this way, the HACCP guidelines (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) are reinforced so as to avoid risks and additional costs. 

Unisto Pharmaflex Detect and its properties 

The tamper-evident adjustablelength security seal Unisto Pharmaflex Detect is through a special process loose manufactured. In this way plastic fragments are prevented from falling into containers or bags that are used to transport liquids, powder, etc. In addition, Pharmaflex Detect is detectable thanks to a special plastic compound. The entire Pharmaflex Detect, or also parts of it, can be identified, thanks to the metal portion included, which is not the case with a conventional plastic security seal. In addition, the dark blue colour, customarily used in the industry, facilitates the process of visual control. Dark blue is the established industry standard, since this colour does not appear naturally in raw materials for food and is subsequently easily visible. The raw materials used to produce Unisto Pharmaflex Detect fulfil the following guidelines and regulations:

■ Regulation 1935/2004/EC incl. Regulation 10/2011 ‘materials and articles intended to come into contact with food’

■ FDA food contact materials Code of Federal Regulations [CO1]. (CFR) ‘21 CFR 177.1520 + 21 CFR 176.170’ 

■ EU Chemical Regulation 1907/2006/EC. REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals). 

Advantages at a glance

This newly launched product from Unisto brings with it several advantages:

■ Even small pieces can be detected by a metal detector or X-ray machine

■ Depending on the requirements, Pharmaflex Detect is available with different and customer-specific percentage of metal

■ Fullfils the requirements of the HACCP-procedure (HACCP: Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point)

■ Produced loose and with a food compliant plastic compound

■ In dark blue colour for simple visual detection in line with the industry standard.

Your unique selling proposition (USP)

Launched on the market in September 2017, the newly developed security seal Unisto Pharmaflex Detect marks an additional milestone for Unisto. Whether you produce flavourings, transport raw materials, or manufacture food, the use of this detectable security seal guarantees you an USP, working as an additional selling point and thereby securing your position on the market. 

What is it a security seal? 

Security seals make any attempt at tampering visible and help detect contamination, manipulation, trafficking of contraband, stowage of arms and explosives or theft of goods in transit. They provide indicative access control for goods in transit and indicate whether a locking device has already been opened. Suitable for many applications as bags, drums, boxes, roll cages, or trucks, security seals can be also individualised and produced for special solutions and niche applications.

Many factors influence the functionality and effectiveness of a security seal. Some of the aspects to be considered include:

■ The type of containers to be sealed

■ The temperature in the place where the sealed container is stored

■ The forces and influences that the seal must withstand, for example whether it must be easy to remove by hand or using a cutter

■ The logistic processes in place and which steps have to be taken

■ Handling and management.

There are many different types of security seals on the market and they are all classified according to various categories. Due to the different types of security seal, the variables to be considered and how these may affect seal effectiveness, it is important to require the support of a security seal expert to choose the right seal for a specific application. In conjunction with the customer logo, consecutive numbering, barcode, data matrix codes etc., Unisto ensures that each seal is unique and cannot be substituted.

About Unisto

Unisto has been applying its experience in the development and production of innovative security seals for 90 years.

The company’s roots go back to 1926, when it was founded as family business in Horn, Switzerland. Today, the companies of the Unisto group are present in more than 30 countries worldwide with 600 employees.

As global supplier and manufacturer, Unisto produces security solutions in line with its Swiss quality standards at all its production sites around the world, which are spread throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.

Unisto’s worldwide presence ensures professional on-site advice. After meticulously analysing processes and requirements, the security seal experts provide the best solution to meet specific customer needs

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