5 Benefits of Using X-ray Systems to Inspect Food in Metalized Film Packaging

By Christy Draus, Marketing Manager at Eagle Product Inspection

22 July 2016

Metalized film is rising in popularity as a food packaging material due to its ability to increase a product’s shelf life and appearance. Unlike traditional films, such as regular clear barrier packaging, metalized film provides improved moisture, oxygen and UV-light barriers which help keep products fresh.

Ideal for stand-up pouches, metalized film is a popular packaging format within the snacks sector for items such as nuts, dried fruits, cookies and crisps, as well as within the wider food industry for items like muesli, stir-in sauces, rice and baby food. View our Snacks Infographic.

Despite being highly desirable among consumers and retailers, metalized pouches pose a product inspection challenge for manufacturers. This article explains how food x-ray inspection equipment can aid compliance with retailers’ specifications by ensuring the safety of products packaged in metalized film pouches, and explores the benefits x-ray detection technology offers over other inspection methods. These benefits are:

1. Better Metal Detection Sensitivity

Many manufacturers, especially smaller contract operations, have historically relied on metal detection as a means of inspection. However, metal detectors struggle to meet the specifications required by retailers when inspecting products in metalized film-coated pouches. This is because metal packaging creates a large product effect for metal detectors, requiring them to operate at a degraded sensitivity level.

By contrast, metalized film poses no challenges for x-ray inspection systems in any size or format. As the films themselves have very little absorbance value, the x-ray is not affected by the packaging, enabling retailers’ specifications to be met and surpassed with ease. Food x-ray inspection machines are capable of inspecting a wide range of products packaged in metalized film and offer a better metal detection specification, compared to metal detectors.

2. Unrivalled Physical Contamination Detection

As well as metal, food x-ray inspection systems are capable of detecting glass, mineral stone, calcified bone, and high-density plastics and rubber, regardless of their size, shape or location within products in metalized pouches.

What’s more, some foods packaged in pouches, such as nuts or trail mix, contain high variations in density. Finding physical contaminants in these products can prove challenging for traditional x-ray inspection systems as the varying densities create ‘busy’ x-ray images. However, x-ray systems equipped with dual energy x-ray technology such as Material Discrimination X-ray (MDX) deliver enhanced contaminant detection in multi-textured products.

For more information on the benefits of MDX technology, download our white paper, “How to Detect Previously Undetectable Foreign Bodies

3. Quality Assurance

In addition to offering unrivalled contamination detection, market-leading x-ray detection systems can also provide quality assurance for products packaged in metalized pouches by carrying out a number of product integrity checks commonly associated with checkweighers and vision systems.

Unlike metal detectors, x-ray machines are simultaneously capable of measuring mass, inspecting product seals for malformations, detecting gross under and overfills, and spotting missing components, making total cost of ownership and return on investment figures more attractive than single function systems.

For more information on the additional quality assurance checks x-ray provides, watch our webinar, “More Than Foreign Body Detection

4. SQF Compliance

As well as helping manufacturers meet Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) regulations, market-leading food x-ray inspection systems can help them achieve certification to a number of Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)-recognized schemes, including Safe Quality Food (SQF) 2000 Code. X-ray systems can help manufacturers meet the rigorous requirements necessary to achieve SQF certification by incorporating features like validation mode for unique login credentials and XML files for data storage that will help to support the audit process.

5. Improved Data Collection

Unlike metal detectors, x-ray systems allow manufacturers to save and export valuable production data, as well as save rejected product images for off-line review. These images are tagged with the product name, date, time and reason the product was rejected. By tracking production through every stage, systems are capable of enhancing product traceability and provide manufacturers with due-diligence capabilities.

Read more about TraceServer™, Eagle’s data collection software.