How to Prevent Glass in Food: A Guide for Restaurant Managers

Published on:
January 31, 2024
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A tiny piece of glass in your minestrone soup is the perfect way to spoil an otherwise great evening at the restaurant.

Take a moment to contemplate the journey of this intrepid traveler, a hitchhiker of sorts, as it made its way from the kitchen's bulb to ultimately finding its way into your customer's bowl.

Your customer is mentally reliving this same trip right now; the only difference is that they're also adding background scenes of a filthy sink, cooks working without hairnets, and broken pieces of glass everywhere to the story. 

In a world where imagination can easily transcend reality, how can you maintain your customers' fleeting and valuable satisfaction with your eatery?

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In a world where imagination can easily transcend reality, how can you maintain your customers' fleeting and valuable satisfaction with your eatery?

Negative reviews can spread rapidly across social media and review platforms, deterring potential customers and damaging your establishment's standing in the community. It takes around 40 positive interactions to offset one negative review. This lasting damage not only affects customer views but can also strain ties with suppliers and partners.

If you're a manager or owner of a restaurant, you can think of a laundry list of obstacles that could destroy the vibe you've worked so hard to establish. Misplaced requests. Known allergies among customers. Subpar dining experience and service. In the annual report of physical contamination incidents reported to the FSA, over 10% were a result of glass contamination.

Food safety implies more than just taking precautions to avoid food-borne diseases. It is all about assuring quality in terms of food and ambiance. Food safety is an essential component of quality assurance.

What is Food Sanitation?

Food sanitation, a subset of food safety, refers to activities carried out inside food facilities to create a more suitable environment for food preparation. It strives to remove food safety threats, especially sources of contamination, to guarantee that customers' food is safe and free of foodborne disease. 

Food sanitation involves precise criteria, or food sanitation guidelines, established by state and federal government agencies to assist in maintaining the cleanliness of the facility, including food contact surfaces, equipment, and other locations along the food supply chain. 

The manager is responsible for understanding the food sanitary laws and ensuring that all personnel are properly trained to follow them. 

Glass Contamination in Food

Glass is the most hazardous contamination in the food sector. Many food and beverage products are packed in glass containers; however, when these glass jars or bottles shatter during production, glass particles can also be detected in the food or beverage products.

Labatt Brewing Company faced this kind of foreign body contamination in April when the beer company withdrew its trademark Stella Artois products throughout Canada due to the possibility of glass contamination. 

In addition to providing a health concern to customers who bought the contaminated batches, this recall damaged consumer confidence even more since they were urged to throw away the bottles of beer and could not return them for a refund.

Nestlé made news a few years before this event for launching a huge food recall throughout the United States. In the spring of 2016, the company recalled roughly three million boxes of frozen pizzas after customers discovered bits of glass in them. 

Additionally, the presence of glass pollutants might have impacted Stouffer's lasagnas and Lean Cuisine meals. The food industry lost millions of dollars due to just one recall.

How Does Glass End Up in Food?

Fragments of glass can get into food in a number of ways, most often due to carelessness or mishaps that occur when preparing, packing, or transporting food. Here are a few instances:

  • Supplier's Quality Failures: Sometimes, the issue may originate from outside the kitchen. Supplier's negligence in quality control, such as packaging food in damaged containers, can introduce glass into the food. Strict checks and balances in sourcing are crucial to prevent this, including regular inspections of deliveries and building strong relationships with trusted suppliers who adhere to high-quality standards.
  • Manufacturing Breakage: Glass containers or equipment used in food processing could break or shatter, allowing fragments of glass to infiltrate the food. This can happen if the glass is subjected to a manufacturing flaw, incorrect handling, or high pressure.
  • Contaminated Ingredients: Glass pieces can be found in food preparation components (e.g., spices, condiments). Fragments of these substances could combine with the food if the glass packing is destroyed or weakened.
  • Packaging and Transportation: Glass containers used for food packaging can break or fracture during shipping or handling. It can happen as a result of hard handling, crashes, or insufficient protective measures. Glass particles can infiltrate the food within if the packaging is destroyed.
  • Mishaps during Food Preparation or Storage: Mishaps in commercial kitchens or food service facilities can result in glass breakage. Dropping a glass dish or container, for example, might cause pieces to move around and possibly contaminate surrounding food items. Light bulbs are a common component in all businesses; any breaking of these objects can result in the ad hoc distribution of fragments of glass in any direction below. 
  • Training and Time Management: Rushing through food preparation increases the risk of accidents. Proper training in handling glass containers, along with adequate time management, can prevent this issue. Investment in comprehensive training and staffing is essential, ensuring that the kitchen is never understaffed during busy periods, and staff members have the time they need to prepare food safely.
  • Machine Malfunction and Technology Limitations: Machines used in food preparation must be maintained and calibrated regularly to detect glass fragments. Older or subpar technology might not be up to the task, requiring investment in cutting-edge technology. Regular maintenance checks, along with a willingness to invest in new equipment when necessary, can prevent this problem.

Food makers must undertake tight control procedures, including adequate inspection and monitoring, to avoid glass contamination. This involves routine equipment maintenance, ingredient checks, and stringent packaging processes. 

Furthermore, food handlers and operators should have a clean and safe working environment to reduce the possibility of glass shards getting into the food.

Avoiding Glass Contamination

A glass management program is a written system that specifies the methods for identifying, preventing, minimizing, responding to, inspecting, and verifying glass in your food industry. 

The main goal and objective is to prevent glass from contaminating your food product. Your glass management program should include details on how your food company will:

  • Determine glass and glass contamination
  • Prevent and reduce possible contamination
  • Respond to glass breakage and product contamination with glass
  • Check to ensure that your system is operational and effective
  1. List the Presence of all Glass Items

You can't prevent what you don't know. Recognize the risks associated with glass fragments and where they are placed inside your business's premises. 

A wide variety of everyday items, including windows, screens, measuring tools, instruments, facility illumination, clock faces, and raw material packaging, are made of glass. The items and locations can then be recorded in a glass register.  

FYI: A glass register's goal is to delineate and identify probable sources of foreign matter contamination related to glass objects. This would also apply to other materials, such as fragile plastic. 

  1. Prevent or Minimize

Various measures can be taken to eliminate or significantly reduce the likelihood of glass contamination. Segregated storage of glassware, light coverings, film barriers, inspections, and zero tolerance are some options. 

  1. Corrective Action Procedures

Some sort of immediate CAPA plan is essential to handling issues like glass breakage or contamination. Remedial measures, cleanup, and product quarantine protocols must be in place.

  • Immediate Isolation

Identify and isolate the contaminated batch or product 

  • Root Cause Analysis

This may involve examining the entire production process, including sourcing, handling, processing, and packaging

  • Documentation

Documentation is vital for analysis, reporting, and implementing preventive measures

  • Communication

Communicate internally within the organization and externally with relevant authorities for public safety and regulatory compliance

  • Product Recall

Provide clear instructions to consumers on returning or disposing of the affected products

  • Quarantine and Disposal

Develop a secure disposal plan to eliminate the risk of further exposure

  • Review and Adjust Procedures

Review existing procedures and protocols to identify weaknesses and adjust procedures to prevent a recurrence

  • Employee Training

Conduct additional training for employees involved in the affected process to ensure awareness of proper protocols and preventive measures

  • Supplier Assessment

Evaluate the sources of raw materials or ingredients to determine if the contamination originated from external suppliers

  • Sanitization and Cleaning

Conduct a thorough cleaning and sanitization of the affected production area and equipment

  • Verification and Validation

Verify the effectiveness of corrective actions through testing and validation procedures

  • Continuous Monitoring

Implement continuous monitoring procedures to detect any signs of potential contamination early on

  • Regulatory Reporting

Provide all necessary documentation and updates as required.

  1. Inspection of Condition

After identifying the location of your glass items, it's crucial to establish an integrity-checking program. Regularly inspect the glass items to ensure they are intact and free from breakages. 

These checks should be incorporated into routine assessments, performed based on the level of risk, or as part of your daily pre-operation checks. This proactive approach helps maintain the safety and functionality of the glass containers/utensils by promptly identifying any issues and addressing them before they escalate.

  1. Evidence for Verification

Keeping records is one technique for showing the development and execution of your glass contamination prevention program. This is a prerequisite if you are certified against a GFSI-recognized standard

Some examples of common records include inspection checks, broken products, customer complaints, non-conformances, and the steps taken to address them, along with an analysis of the underlying causes.

  1. Be Cautious about Packaging

Extra vigilance is essential if your food business packs products into glass. Glass breakage and cleaning methods must be defined to guarantee that no broken glass is overlooked or allowed to end up in the product at a later point in time.

Common Methods for Glass Detection in Food

X-Ray Devices

Some of the most often used food safety technologies in the food business are X-ray machines. They are used to safeguard customers from foreign body contamination, assure food quality, safeguard a brand's image, and avoid costly recalls.

Metal, glass, mineral stone, calcified bone, and high-density plastic and rubber can all be detected by X-ray devices. These devices can additionally be used to weigh things and count their constituents (for example, how many grapes are in a single lot). X-rays are also used to detect missing or damaged components, monitor fill levels, assess seal integrity for trapped pollutants or food products, and inspect packaging for damage.

While these advantages should be sufficient to persuade food producers to invest in this food safety equipment, X-ray detection does have certain limits. The technology is insufficiently sensitive to identify less dense items like paper, cloth, or hair. It is also known that the gadget has trouble scanning items with random textures that are thick.

Make a Checklist

Make a thorough checklist that includes all elements of food safety, including food handling, storage, cleaning procedures, equipment maintenance, and personnel hygiene. This checklist will be used as a reference during self-audits to ensure that no key areas are missed.

Track Kitchen Logs

Using an itemized checklist in your restaurants allows you to convey that information to your personnel. Without them, you open yourself up to the trap of tribal wisdom.

Food safety records include much more than just cooking and chilling. Prep lists, inventory, trash tracking, clean lists, line checks, and more are available. All of them, even those that do not directly deal with food, contribute to food safety at your restaurant.

Having these procedures in place, however, is just one half of the puzzle. It would be best if you guaranteed that they are followed daily, which is why reporting is critical. Accurate reporting logs will provide you with practical suggestions and comments to share with your team. 

Plan Regular Audits

To evaluate adherence to food safety regulations plan routine self-audits. Depending on the size and complexity of your restaurant, these audits should ideally be performed monthly or quarterly.

Examine Patterns

Analyze the data from self-audits to discover reoccurring problems. Investigate typical sources of probable infringement. 

Implement Corrective Measures

Assign particular staff members responsibility, create deadlines, and monitor progress. To address identified weaknesses successfully, these activities may include extra training, equipment improvements, or pest treatment.

Keep up with Local Regulations

Check local health code rules regularly and subscribe to industry publications for best practices, or get to know your local health regulation agency.

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  • Operations Templates: Use a customizable health inspection form builder, weighted scoring health and hygiene assessments, geo stamp-based inspections, QR code-based access inspections and checklists, and an inspection template library.
  • Tasks & Work Orders: Task assignment and scheduling software for advanced health inspections. The ability to access Xenia from any location at any time allows for the continuous monitoring and maintenance of food safety protocols.
  • Chats: Quickly detect concerns and guarantee transparency and accountability via DMs, group messages, and discussion threads connected to inspections.
  • Corrective Actions: Develop health inspection-based resolution methods with completion tracking and conditional logic.
  • Temperature Monitoring: You can check the temperature of your fridge, freezer, or other storage item in real time using this program. It helps keep food fresh and prevents spoilage by alerting when temperatures rise over or fall below certain thresholds.


Keeping guests safe should be a primary consideration if you work in the hospitality business. Anyone working in the food sector must make compliance with food safety rules an integral part of their daily routine,.

Every action you take on a daily basis should have the goal of actively avoiding health code violations and maintaining food safety standards. This ensures you're constantly operating a tight ship by carrying out all the right procedures! 

Why let a challenge remain an obstacle when it can be a catalyst for growth? Don't wait to tackle this critical issue.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question? Find our FAQs here. If your question hasn't been answered here, contact us.

Why is it crucial for restaurants to have a comprehensive plan for handling glass items and preventing contamination?

A comprehensive plan for handling glass items is crucial for restaurants for any number of reasons. Some of the common reasons are, but not limited to the following:

  • Ensure the safety of customers by preventing harmful glass contamination in food, thereby avoiding health hazards.
  • Maintain the restaurant's reputation by proactively managing risks associated with glass, as incidents of contamination can lead to negative reviews and loss of customer trust.
  • Comply with food safety regulations and standards set by health authorities, avoiding legal issues and potential fines.
  • Foster a culture of safety and responsibility among staff, ensuring they are well-trained and vigilant in preventing contamination.
  • Minimize financial losses due to product recalls, customer refunds, or legal actions resulting from glass contamination incidents.

How can restaurant managers effectively respond to glass contamination incidents?

Although, it doesn't happen more often, but still, there are chances that an event with glass contamination might occur. If it happens, you need to do the following to ensure best food safety management practices.

  • Immediately isolate the contaminated batch or product to prevent further spread.
  • Perform a root cause analysis to determine how the contamination occurred.
  • Document the incident thoroughly for analysis and reporting.
  • Communicate with all relevant parties, including staff and potentially affected customers.
  • Initiate a product recall if necessary, providing clear instructions for safe disposal or return.
  • Quarantine and safely dispose of contaminated products.
  • Review and adjust procedures and protocols to prevent future occurrences.
  • Re-train employees to ensure awareness and adherence to updated safety protocols.
  • Evaluate supplier practices if the contamination is traced back to external sources.
  • Conduct thorough cleaning and sanitization of affected areas.

What are the essential steps a restaurant manager should take to prevent glass contamination in food?

To prevent glass contamination, a restaurant manager should be mindful of the following activities:

  • Conduct regular integrity checks on all glass items and utensils to ensure they are free from breakages.
  • Train staff thoroughly in handling glass containers and managing risks, including proper food handling, storage, and cleaning procedures.
  • Implement a rigorous glass management program, detailing procedures for preventing, identifying, and responding to glass breakage.
  • Use advanced detection technology like X-ray devices for inspecting food products, especially if packaged in glass.
  • Maintain accurate records of inspections, incidents of breakage, and corrective actions taken.
  • Plan regular self-audits and analyze patterns to identify and address recurring issues.
  • Keep up with local health regulations and industry best practices to ensure compliance and safety.