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6 Benefits of X-ray Product Inspection for Food

Food & Beverage, Red Meat

Traditionally associated with medical and dental treatments, food manufacturers are increasingly investing in x-ray inspection equipment as a method of product inspection, but why?

This article explains 6 key benefits x-ray technology offers food manufacturers:

1. Consumer Protection

Although modern manufacturing techniques strive to eliminate physical contaminants in food products, processes and procedures inevitably break down, resulting in potential contamination.
X-ray systems help to protect consumers’ welfare by providing unrivalled detection of a variety of physical contaminants, irrespective of their size, shape or location, within packaged and unpackaged products. Systems are capable of detecting:

  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Mineral stone
  • Calcified bone
  • High-density plastic and rubber

See how x-ray inspection systems easily detect and reject baked bean tins with physical contaminants.

Bone Detection with PXT™ Dual Energy Technology
Hollow Hearts in Potatoes

2. Quality Assurance

As well as detecting and rejecting physical contaminants before products are dispatched, modern x-ray systems are multi-tasking quality assurance systems. In a single pass at high line speeds, they are simultaneously capable of performing a wide range of inline product integrity checks. These include:

  • Measuring mass
  • Counting components
  • Identifying missing or broken products
  • Monitoring fill levels
  • Inspecting seal integrity for trapped food or contaminants
  • Checking for damaged packaging

See how x-ray inspection equipment surpasses traditional checkweighers by performing simultaneous food quality inspection checks in this comparative infographic.

3. Brand Protection and Recall Prevention

The number of food recalls per year in the U.S. has almost doubled since 2002 and the total number of recall events reported via FDA Recall Enforcement Reports has increased since 2014 with 720 estimated for 2016, 20% higher than in 2015.1 Unsafe food due to microorganisms is the most common cause, and physical contamination of foreign bodies increasing 75% in 2016 compared to 2015. The average cost of a recall to a food company is estimated to be USD 10 million in direct costs, with some recalls resulting in losses of more than USD 100 million2. And, what’s more, these figures exclude the brand damage and lost sales that can take years to recover from.

By detecting contaminated and/or defective products before they leave the factory, x-ray systems help to safeguard brand reputations, as well as minimize the risk of food recalls and customer complaints.

4. Risk Management and Regulatory Compliance

Although x-ray inspection equipment isn’t a legal requirement, in any legal proceedings resulting from food contamination, manufacturers could be asked to prove they’ve implemented procedures to manage and prevent all identified risks in their processes. X-ray inspection technology can help to demonstrate due diligence by proving manufacturers have assessed all risks to food safety and allocated resources to minimize them. Software within the x-ray systems also help with greater traceability in the production line and can help locate where physical contaminants may have entered the line.

X-ray inspection equipment can also help manufacturers comply with retailers’ codes of practice which increasingly require implementation of a formal x-ray inspection program before supplier approval is granted.

In addition, an x-ray system can aid compliance with the following Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)-based Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI)-recognized standards:

  • The British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Global
  • Standard for Food Safety
  • International Food Standard (IFS)
  • Safe Quality Food (SQF) 2000 Code
  • The Foundation for Food Safety Certification (FSSC) 22000

For more information on how to best locate critical control points on your production line, read our white paper ‘How to Select Critical Control Points for X-ray Systems.’

5. Customer Trust

Food manufacturers and contract packagers are increasingly keen to tell their customers they’ve installed an x-ray inspection system as it’s widely regarded as adding a higher level of quality to a premium product. As well as helping to improve customer satisfaction and retention, x-ray inspection has been proven to help companies increase their market share by enhancing customer confidence and help them win new business where quality and compliance with the latest codes of practice are key retailer requirements.

6. High Return on Investment 

Although a contamination detection system won’t normally earn a food manufacturer revenue or return on investment (ROI) at the same level as a filling machine or checkweigher, x-ray systems with additional inspection capabilities offer a higher ROI and can increase Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).

Further benefits include a small footprint as one machine’s capable of performing several inspection tasks simultaneously. And a single set-up screen helps to ensure quicker and easier line changeovers, and has the potential to reduce operator errors and minimize production line downtime too.

Download our White Paper, X-ray: More Than Foreign Body Detection

[1]https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/us-eu-foreign-body-recalls-increase-vince-shiers

[2]http://www.swissre.com/media/news_releases/nr_20150715_foodrecall.html

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