True Capability of X-ray Food Inspection Technology

Christy Draus, Marketing Manager

1 October 2021

X-ray food inspection machines are designed and used to detect contaminants that impede food safety and quality. Often, Eagle’s experts are asked about the range and type of foreign materials that can be discerned with today’s inspection technologies. Those contaminants span stone/minerals, metal, glass, some plastic and rubber compounds and calcified bones and can be found using the latest inspection machines paired with powerful software.

“What can I find with x-ray?”

We get that question a lot when talking with customers and potential customers in the field, at trade shows, during webinars or just via phone or email inquiries. The answer is that manufacturers can use x-ray food inspection machines to find and remove a wide range of contaminants, including non-desirable materials that accidentally get mixed into raw ingredients and other foreign bodies that can be mistakenly introduced during the production process.

Advanced technologies serve as a great detective for a number of unwanted contaminants that pose a real risk to food safety and quality:

Case 1: Contaminants missed during raw material harvesting or production.

The Solution: Unfortunately, foreign bodies can be inadvertently incorporated into raw/bulk materials or products. For example, we’ve worked with bulk potato manufacturers and fig processors who had to contend with harmful contaminants within their crops, including metal pieces and bits of rock or stone. In that case, the Eagle Pack 400 HC or the Eagle Bulk 415 PRO with Material Discrimination X-ray (MDX) system was put in place to check harvested product and eliminate any foreign material before further processing or packaging. MDX gives manufacturers the ability to discern materials by chemical composition and identify contaminants in bulky, busy and multi-textured foods which would otherwise go unnoticed.

Case 2: Glass-in-glass contaminants that pose food safety risks for products packaged in glass containers or bottles.

The Solution: While some x-ray machines can detect glass contaminants in products and packaging, Eagle offers special technologies for glass-in-glass detection, such as the Eagle Tall PRO XS, Tall PRO XSDV and QuadView. One of our customers in the condiment and marinade business turned to x-ray technologies when it became clear that the previous metal detector inspection equipment could not detect glass within their jarred products. The Tall PRO XS was able to locate glass fragments while conducting simultaneous quality checks such as component count, missing cap detection and mass measurement.

Case 3: Minute bone fragments that can be easily overlooked and commonly cause headaches for poultry processors.

The Solution: Recognizing processors’ need to find smaller pieces of calcified bone, Eagle introduced a next-generation detector technology, PXT™ that finds bone fragments down to 1 mm or smaller as seen for Giannone Poultry. The breakthrough PXT detector paired with the RMI 400 is able to detect bones as small as .6 mm and excels in the inspection of all forms of poultry—from bulk flow to retail, frozen or fresh, and single or multilane processing lines. The PXT detector captures more detailed data about a product than has been previously possible and instantly processes images using Eagle’s powerful image analysis software, SimulTask PRO™, lowering false reject rates and minimizing product rework.

Case 4: Metal fragments in red meat products that prompt costly recalls and inaccurate fat and lean measurements that cause fat claims.

The Solution: Eagle’s inline fat analysis for red meat applications not only provide an accurate chemical lean (within 1 CL) to ensure the best batch combination and quality but immediately detect and reject potentially damaging contaminants, such as 1.25 mm lead and 1.5 to 2.5 mm stainless steel and ferrous materials, among other foreign materials. One of our red meat processor customers deployed an Eagle FA machine to ensure premium ground products and identify reputation-threatening contaminants including buckshot.

These are just some examples of the powerful detection capability of x-ray technologies. Other customers have shared their own case studies about how inspection systems have helped them find and remove other contaminants, such as stainless steel, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, some plastic and rubber compounds and even, believe it or not, golf balls.

Food safety and quality are not an open and shut case, but with x-ray food inspection technologies, manufacturers can gain more transparency on their lines, protecting their products and customers.