Meat manufacturers in the US, and indeed worldwide, have a complex regulatory landscape to navigate in order to remain compliant ranging from sanitation to package labeling. One of the most dominant regulatory compliance standards are Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles which help to reduce the level of contaminants and pathogens that could potentially be found within packaged meat, poultry and egg products.
A key aspect for meat manufacturers to consider when addressing quality assurance is which control methods to implement in order to be at the lowest possible risk when it comes to physical contamination and for many, x-ray inspection equipment fits the bill entirely.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point Principles – how can x-ray help?
There are seven HACCP principles, which guide manufacturers from analyzing potential risks at the outset, through to identifying the best controls as a means to eliminate or reduce those risks and accurately report and archive them. The overall aim is to conduct a hazard analysis, identifying areas on the production line where food safety hazards could or would be likely to occur and to ensure that those hazards do not become an issue with regard to public health. The principles focus on areas at which contaminants could enter the product – whether it’s before the packaging stage, looking for fragments of bone for example, or after, where damaged packaging could allow contaminants to enter the product. These areas are referred to as critical control points (CCPs), where a control – such as an in-line x-ray detection system – could be placed in order to eliminate hazards, or reduce it to a level which is deemed acceptable under the guidelines. The Meat Plant HACCP Manual, created in 2002, helps to provide a clear and detailed training guide for slaughter and cutting in meat plants as a means to minimize contamination and eliminate food borne illnesses. For information on the seven principles and what actions should be taken if hazards are identified during an audit read our Expert Hub blog titled, ‘Business Drivers for X-ray Inspection: Part 2 – Your HACCP Audit Identified Your Food Products Are at Risk of Physical Contaminants other Than Metal.’
One of the best solutions for catching these sorts of hazardous contaminants at critical control points is with x-ray inspection equipment. X-ray systems are capable of performing multiple tasks simultaneously, making them an attractive option with regard to offsetting the capital outlay required to remain compliant with HACCP regulations. X-ray inspection systems are able to operate at high speeds and, importantly, inspect 100% of product passing down the line. Physical contaminants such as calcified bone, metal fragments and mineral stone, can all be detected and rejected before the product is packaged. After the packaging stage, package integrity can also be inspected for missing components or broken and damaged products.
In-line fat analysis systems for x-ray inspection of meat also provide outstanding foreign contaminant detection and, for meat processors, have an added value as they can measure chemical lean (CL) values to within +/- 1CL. This enables meat processors to verify that the meat purchased was accurately priced and achieve accurate blending targets if creating a recipe to a least cost formulation (LCF) plan. Furthermore, the use of meat inspection equipment with IP69 rating and designed according to the 10 Principles of Sanitary Design, strengthens the reduction of microbiological contamination in products. This pairing, IP69 rating with Sanitary Design, creates the best combination for sanitation and overall food safety. For more information on this dynamic combination read our Expert Hub blog titled, ‘Sanitary Design for Product Inspection Equipment Is More Than Just a Rating’.
Boost Safety with HACCP
As a meat manufacturer, you know your business inside out. Identifying control points within the confines of your production lines is a straight forward process. However, when it comes to choosing the correct systems to manage those points it can be a little more complicated. By choosing in-line x-ray and fat analysis systems, manufacturers can be assured of first class contaminant detection, in addition to a wide range of peripheral benefits that cannot be rivalled by alternative inspection methods. This leads, overall, to a more streamlined operation, significant cost-saving opportunities and a very attractive return on investment.
For an in-depth explanation on the relevance of x-ray inspection at various stages of the production process read our white paper ‘How to Select Critical Control Points for X-ray Systems’.