The food industry has been relying on x-ray technology since the early 1990’s to detect potentially harmful contaminants, such as glass, bone and metal, to protect consumers and preserve brand reputations. But can x-ray inspection do more? Can x-ray technology be a multitasking defender of product safety and brand quality? Yes, it can!
Here are 6 key benefits to integrating an x-ray inspection system into your production line:
1. Consumer Protection
Potential contamination can happen at any point in your production line. Although manufactures strive to eliminate foreign bodies in food, processes and procedures can break down, resulting in potential contamination. X-ray systems help protect consumers’ welfare by providing unrivalled detection of physical contaminants, irrespective of their size, shape or location within packaged and unpackaged products. X-ray machines are capable of detecting:
- Mineral stone
- Calcified bone
- High-density plastic and rubber
Bone Detection with PXT™ Dual Energy Technology
Contaminant Detection in Packaged Cookies
Metal Detection in a Cheese Block
Rubber Contaminant in French Fries
2. Recall Prevention & Brand Protection
In the U.S., there were 270 food and beverage recalls in 2021, including those linked to foreign material contamination.1 The average cost of a recall is estimated to be $10 million USD in direct costs, with some recalls resulting in losses of more than $100 million2.
While the physical recall costs—such as the publication of alerts, transport of the recalled products back to the factory and loss of revenue—are relatively straightforward to calculate, it’s difficult to determine the more wide-ranging ramifications of a recall, like damage to the brand in the eyes of supermarkets and consumers that can take years to recover from.
By detecting contaminated and/or defective products before they leave the factory, x-ray systems help safeguard brand reputations, as well as minimize the risk of food recalls and customer complaints.
3. 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 simultaneously perform a wide range of inline product integrity checks. These include:
- Measuring mass
- Counting components
- Identifying missing or broken products
- Monitoring fill levels
- Checking for damaged packaging
- Inspecting seal integrity for trapped food or contaminants
Identify Missing Components in Sealed Packages
Misplaced Metal Clips in Chub Packaging
Mass Measurement for Cooked Pies
Void Detection in Burger Patty Packages
Fill Level Verification in Jars
Detect Trapped Food in Package Seals
4. Risk Management & 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 and fat analysis technology can help 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 help with greater traceability in the production line and can help locate where physical contaminants may have entered. An automatic reject device installed with your x-ray machine instantly removes contaminated products from the production line. They can be contained within lockable collection bins, which in many cases are controlled by authorized operators. Documentation of the frequency and nature of rejects ensures you can demonstrate full diligence has been conducted and that issues have been resolved effectively.
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 Global Standards (BRCGS)
- Standard for Food Safety
- International Food Standard (IFS)
- Safe Quality Food (SQF) 2000 Code
- The Foundation for Food Safety Certification (FSSC) 22000
5. Customer & Retailer 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. Read more about how companies all over the world use x-ray equipment to inspire customer trust by providing quality, contaminant-free products: download the Eagle Success Stories eBook.
As well as helping to improve customer satisfaction and retention, x-ray inspection and fat analysis has been proven to help companies increase their market share. This technology has enhanced customer confidence and helped them win new business where quality and compliance, with the latest codes of practice, are key retailer requirements.
6. High Return on Investment
X-ray inspection for contaminate detection with quality control capabilities paired with a comprehensive service package offers a high ROI. Advanced systems can also increase Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) for a lower total cost of ownership.
Further benefits include a small footprint as one machine can perform several inspection tasks simultaneously. And a single set-up screen helps ensure quicker and easier line changeovers, which reduces the potential for operator errors and minimizes line downtime.
Don’t wait to invest in x-ray inspection equipment until after your company has had a product recall. By then it’s too late, as there could already be irreparable damage to your image. The growth of social media has been near exponential over the past decade. Yet despite offering companies numerous advantages, it has the potential to ruin a brand’s reputation within seconds as information about food scares can spread rapidly with one influencer’s post going viral. A product recall is no longer just a note on a supermarket notice board. The media are quick to latch onto negative stories, and the resulting social media storms from consumers could see loyal customers switch brands without a moment’s hesitation.
Contact Eagle to have a representative work with you and your company to determine the points of vulnerabilities on your production line and how to safeguard them with x-ray inspection equipment.