Enhancing food safety
Consumers and food producers driving innovation in product inspection
New packaging formats are booming.
Demographic change, changes to consumer shopping and consumption habits, and an increasing stringent demands from retailers are driving innovation in the food packaging market.
Consumers want more convenience. They want food that is easy to prepare and they want food manufacturers to act in an environmentally conscious, sustainable manner by using recyclable packaging material and functional packaging that contributes to a reduction in food waste.
Trend leaders for food packaging primarily include packaging made of flexible material, multilayer plastics and foils such as those used for stand-up pouches. Further growth is also forecast for aluminium as a raw material for packaging, primarily in film composites with plastics.
At the same time, sustainability and environment are high on shoppers’ agendas.
New bioplastics made from plants, sugar bagasse and palm leaf are all emerging as plastic alternatives that can quickly biodegrade.
New and more diverse types of packaging and materials bring with them a range of new challenges.
From a product inspection perspective, they introduce more complexity for the food industry in detecting potential physical contaminants on production and packaging lines.
Food manufacturers must ensure that their product inspection systems can be adjusted for a change in packaging as quickly as possible and with a high degree of automation, using high-performance software and intuitive user interfaces to keep changeover times short and OEE (overall equipment efficiency) performance high.
Factors such as the size and location of the contaminant, the speed of the production line, the product packaging material and the difference in density between the contaminant and the product influence the sensitivity and performance of metal detection devices and X-Ray inspection systems.
Given the increasing complexity of packaging types and materials, the detection of contaminants in an early stage of processing and production is recommended.
Early detection and removal of foreign bodies also protects the production equipment downstream from possible damage by contaminants during further processing, while product loss and food waste are also minimized. Further technological developments also make identifying very small contaminants quicker and more reliable.
The X34 model X-Ray inspection system from METTLER TOLEDO provides a combination of technologies that enable producers to detect smaller contaminants at high-throughputs.
One of its key features is its enhanced Optimum Power generator, which automatically maximizes detection sensitivity by optimizing power and contrast levels for every product.
The high-performance software of the X34 also allows for automated product set-up without the need for manual adjustment by the operator, increasing production uptime and improving OEE.
The demands upon product inspection are increasing against a backdrop of progressively diverse packaging types. In many cases, metal detection or X-Ray inspection technology will provide the correct solution for reliable foreign object detection.
Learn more about the most optimal product inspection technologies offered by METTLER TOLEDO at www.mt.com/pi-guides
Davor Djukic is national sales manager for product inspection at METTLER TOLEDO Canada Inc. in Mississauga, Ont.