Physical contaminants in food are a global safety concern and can also have a detrimental impact on brand reputation. If fragments of metal, bone, plastic, glass or any other foreign body are allowed to enter the food chain, there is a chance that they could cause serious harm. That's the primary concern for food manufacturers and processors as they seek to ensure that contamination doesn't occur. The resulting bad publicity and loss of customer confidence is hugely damaging and can be extremely difficult to repair. Furthermore, if contaminated food reaches the market, it can lead to costly recalls, and result in expensive fines. Often, the quality and safety of food products depends on the level of due diligence exercised during the production process to exclude physical contaminants from the finished goods. The choice of protection and inspection equipment has a significant impact on product quality, safety, and consumer confidence. Of the inspection choices manufacturers face, a key one is whether to install a metal detection system, an x-ray inspection system, or both.
Fortunately, advances in product inspection technologies mean that most types of foreign body contamination are now detectable. Metal, glass, dense plastics, mineral stone, calcified bone and rubber contaminants can be readily found using equipment such as metal detectors and x-ray systems on fast moving production lines. The performance of such equipment depends on a range of factors that impact sensitivity. Factors may include the size and location of the contaminant, the speed of the production line, the comparative density of the contaminant to the product being inspected and the type of product packaging material being used.
The type of foodstuff is also a major factor. In many food production processes, raw and incoming materials arrive in liquid, paste and slurry format and are pumped through pipework systems before being mixed and blended. Detecting contaminants in such incoming materials early in the production process has many benefits. Liquid, paste, and slurry formats are often more homogenous and easier to inspect, and contaminants tend to be larger and easier to spot.
When it comes to detecting contamination in unpackaged bulk, loose and granular products, inspection technology that is positioned over a horizontal conveyor or as the product falls under gravity conditions directly before processing or packaging is an efficient way to remove contaminants. Typical bulk products which allow for this inspection method include sugar, flour, grains, cereals, dried fruit, nuts and vegetables, snack foods and confectionery, meat, poultry, fish and seafood. Once processing and packaging has taken place, the final inspection of products at the end of the production line is the last line of defense to detect any contamination by a foreign body before shipping the finished product to retailers and supermarkets. In this environment, the type of packaging and the potential type of contamination dictate the type of product inspection system which should be used.
The Product Inspection Division of METTLER TOLEDO is a leader in the field of automated inspection technology. Its solutions increase process efficiency for manufacturers while supporting compliance with industry standards and regulations. The company's systems also deliver improved product quality which helps to protect the welfare of consumers and reputation of manufacturers.
METTLER TOLEDO is a leading global manufacturer of precision instruments. The company is the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of weighing instruments for use in laboratory, industrial and food retailing applications. The company also holds top-three market positions for several related analytical instruments and is a leading provider of automated chemistry systems used in drug and chemical compound discovery and development. In addition, the company is the world’s largest manufacturer and marketer of metal detection systems used in production and packaging.
Additional information about METTLER TOLEDO is available at www.mt.com.
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