Canadian Packaging

Reputations on the Line

Preventing Physical Food Contamination


August 26, 2019
by Davor Djukic, National Sales Manager - Product Inspection, METTLER TOLEDO

Food safety scares often make news headlines, and a well-publicized incident can destroy a company’s brand name in an alarmingly short time period. Product recalls caused by physical contamination can cost millions of dollars. Unfortunately, contamination incidents are on the rise.

The primary concern for food manufacturers in eliminating physical contamination is customer safety. If fragments of any foreign body enter the food chain, there is a chance that they could seriously harm the health of consumers. Therefore, preventive measures involve a mix of regular risk assessments, robust quality procedures and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Product recalls caused by physical contamination are also a considerable risk to reputation. Consumers expect to receive the final product as promised, so the presence of any foreign body – however harmless – is unacceptable. Branding built up painstakingly over time can be seriously undermined by bad publicity surrounding a food scare, and sometimes the company simply cannot survive the experience.

Manufacturers of product inspection technologies put a lot of effort into continuous development to make sure that their systems meet the needs of modern food production. The X34 from METTLER TOLEDO is an advanced x-ray system featuring diode technology and a generator that automatically adjusts the voltage and current depending on the product being inspected. This certifies that power and contrast levels are optimized for every product, ensuring enhanced detection performance. Food manufacturers can therefore achieve high recognition sensitivity for even the very smallest contaminants, while also reducing their energy consumption. The X34 is also equipped with automated product setup that speeds up product changeovers, dramatically decreasing the chance of human error and greatly reducing the number of false rejects.

Metal detection technology advances also focus on improving accuracy and reducing false rejects. Natural products such as poultry, meat and dairy often have a high degree of moisture or salt content altering the product signal. Conventional metal detector technology struggles to cope with this variation with the risk of a high false reject rate or an unacceptable reduction in online sensitivity. Metal detectors that utilize the latest multi-simultaneous frequency technology, such as the Profile Advantage from METTLER TOLEDO, make the difference. This technology incorporates a product signal suppression technique to effectively cancel out the product signal from difficult to inspect products and virtually eliminate false rejects.

The constant trend towards digitalization is also driving the collection and analysis of data as a tool to support consumer safety and effective brand protection. This information is essential for predictive benchmarking and uses trend analysis to prevent errors, ideally before they occur. ProdX software from METTLER TOLEDO allows manufacturers to control the entire product inspection management process from a single point or from multiple remote locations, eliminating the need for time-consuming production line patrols.

Physical contamination continues to be an extremely serious concern, and effective counter-measures need to keep pace as packaging and production trends change over time. Advanced product inspection technologies are available to ensure that food manufacturers meet regulatory, retailer and consumer requirements, while preparing for future-proofing processes of the digital factories of the future.

To learn more about foreign body detection in the food industry download the free white paper at www.mt.com/pi-contamination.


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