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Foreign bodies in food

Author: Janet Lee

Have you ever wondered why, over the past few decades, it has become increasingly difficult to open packaging containing food items?  Indeed, sometimes, by the time I have managed to open a tin of biscuits or a packet of sweets, I have lost the desire to consume the contents! However, I am pleased to say that, thanks to a recent holiday, this mystery has now been solved.

As a regular cruise passenger on the high seas, I look forward to lazy days at sea when one of the highlights is often listening to an onboard speaker give a series of talks. These speakers can range from former politicians and sports personalities to a former navigator on Concorde. However, one of the most interesting talks I have attended was given by a former high ranking police officer from Scotland Yard who introduced me to the fascinating topic of Food Tampering.

Food Tampering is the deliberate contamination of food products with the intention of causing harm. This can happen in the processing stage, storage or retail operation. Motives behind food tampering can range from corporate sabotage and extortion to malicious mischief or disgruntled employees. It can happen anywhere and at any time. In an effort to prevent this, the food industry has tried to make food packaging as “tamper proof” as possible.

Food tampering cases often involve foreign objects being placed in food products. These cases often focus on whether the contamination occurred during the manufacturing process, either accidentally or intentionally.

One well known case in England occurred in the late 1980s. There was a wave of incidents where razor blades, pins, caustic soda and pieces of glass were placed in baby food jars. This was related to a £1million extortion racket with Heinz products when the criminal threatened to continue contaminating the baby food until he was paid off.

Of course, the introduction of a foreign body into food need not be done maliciously. It can be introduced by a simple act of negligence on the food production line. Suffice it to say that if you have the misfortune to break a tooth or cut the inside of your mouth on a foreign object whilst eating, for example, the contents of a baked bean can, you may have a claim for damages for personal injury. We are experienced Personal Injury Specialists and can give you the expert advice you need. Call 01302 320621 or email

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