Physical Hazards

Physical hazards are items not normally found in food that can be harmful by causing choking, or injury to the mouth or digestive tract. Not all extraneous or foreign materials are hazards. For example, string or paper are foreign material but are not likely to injure anyone. Items that can cause injury depending on their size and shape are glass, plastic, metal, stones, and wood.

Glass: This is a dangerous hazard if broken pieces end up in the food product. Often, unless glass is used for packaging, glass items are prohibited from production areas, or if necessary, tightly controlled.

Plastic: This is often used as a replacement of glass but can still cause injury. Use of less brittle material will reduce the risk.

Metal: In most manufacturing operations, equipment poses a risk of introducing metal into the product stream. Preventive maintenance is important in all processes. Magnets and metal detectors can used to eliminate metal before packaging.

Stones: Some ingredients, especially those from farms, may contain stones. Depending on their size, stones can pose hazard for choking or damaging consumers’ teeth.

Wood: Wood could choke consumers or cut them if the edges are sharp. Wood, like glass, is often eliminated from production areas.

Foreign Material in Peanuts

These foreign materials have been found in peanuts. Not all are hazards.

Insect Parts
Shriveled Pods

Tobacco products

Preventing Foreign Material in Peanuts

Growing and Harvesting

  • Good rotation improves yield and reduces foreign material
  • Weed control efficiency improved
  • Proper harvesting equipment adjustment reduces foreign material
  • Cleaning out all wagons, harvesting equipment, and other hauling equipment will eliminate potential sources of foreign material

Transfer and Storage

  • All buildings, ground, shelters, pits, sampling areas, and equipment should be cleaned and inspected routinely
  • Glass containers should not be permitted on the facility
  • Drying trailers should be cleaned routinely
  • Preventive maintenance to control rust, loose paint, loose fasteners and metal fragments
  • Remove potential foreign material with structures (bird and wasp nests)
  • Thoroughly clean dump pits frequently
  • Carefully monitor dump pit for dirt and foreign material from trailers
  • Conveyor buckets and belts should be monitored and cleaned


Rocks, dirt, sand, sticks or other debris should be removed from farmer stock. Metal, glass or other foreign objects also should be removed.

While this can be done by hand, some mechanized methods include:

  • Separating machines use air and gravity to remove various types of foreign material.
  • Destoner machines are specifically designed to sort out rocks.
  • Filters, screens and magnets are used to remove all types of material, including metal
  • Electronic sorters use sensors to identify objects that are not peanuts and use equipment such as air jets to remove that debris. 


  • Integrated pest management program
  • Glass control program
  • Walls, ceilings, floors of trucks and railcars free from nails, wires, staples, loose wood
  • Pallet control program
  • Seal integrity
  • Bulk loading systems inspections


  • Personnel practices – jewelry, hair coverings, foods, gum, medicines, coins, tobacco, cosmetics, piercings
  • Glass control program
  • Integrated pest management program
  • Construction and maintenance
  • Magnets – bar magnets to remove ferrous metal
  • Cleaning brushes and scrappers
  • Metal Detection – ferrous, stainless steel, and non-ferrous metals