Quality Control or Quality Assurance in the Food Industry – X-ray Inspection Equipment Ensures Both

Christy Draus, Eagle Product Inspection Marketing Manager

15 November 2017

Have you ever wondered what quality control or quality assurance in the food industry mean? Quality control and quality assurance are often used interchangeably to refer to the actions performed to ensure the quality of a product, but could you explain the difference between the two terms?

Although they’re closely related and both encompass aspects of quality management, quality control and quality assurance are fundamentally different in their focus. Quality assurance is process oriented and focuses on defect prevention. Quality control is product oriented and focuses on defect identification. Let’s explore both terms in more detail…

Quality Assurance in the Food Industry– Defect Prevention

Quality assurance (QA) is a set of activities for ensuring quality in the processes by which products are developed. It’s a proactive process and aims to prevent defects by concentrating on the process used to make the product. The goal of QA is to improve development and test processes so that defects don’t arise when the product’s being developed.

QA can be achieved by establishing a good quality management system and assessing its adequacy. What’s more, everyone on the team involved in developing a product is responsible for quality assurance.

Quality Control in the Food Industry– Defect Identification

Quality control (QC) is a set of activities for ensuring quality in products by identifying defects in the actual products produced. It’s a reactive process and aims to identify (and correct) defects in finished products.

QC can be achieved by identifying and eliminating sources of quality problems to ensure customer’s requirements are continually met. It involves the inspection aspect of quality management and is typically the responsibility of a specific team tasked with testing products for defects.

So, in light of these explanations, does food x-ray inspection equipment provide quality assurance or quality control in the food industry?

The answer is both!

Food X-ray Inspection Equipment Provides Quality Assurance and Quality Control in the Food Industry

The ability of x-ray inspection systems to provide unsurpassed detection of a wide range of physical contaminants, including metalglassmineral stonecalcified bone and high-density plastics, means they can be used to keep contaminants out of the production process, as well as catch contaminants before products leave the factory. It simply depends on where they’re located in the production process – the critical control points (CCPs). To learn how to determine where to best place these critical control points on your production line watch this short on-demand webinar.

Because x-ray inspection machines can be used at various control points on a production line, its installment can strengthen both quality control and quality assurance for a manufacturer. X-ray systems that are most commonly found at the end of the production line are used to identify defects before products are dispatched and sent to the retailer or distributor. In addition to inspecting for physical contaminants, systems are widely used to perform additional quality control checks such as measuring masscounting componentsidentifying missing or broken productsmonitoring fill levels and inspecting seals for food entrapment.

Food x-ray inspection equipment installed earlier in the production process can inspect the product before being processed such as raw ingredients, bulk-flow (loose) products or pumped products. When used at one of these critical control points, the systems help provide quality assurance by preventing defects in final products.

Furthermore, the ability of food x-ray inspection equipment to store large amounts of data means they provide quality assurance by identifying trends and bettering overall traceability of incidents that could occur on a production line and instigating preventive actions. Read how Dure Foods used food inspection equipment for quality assurance by tracing all their products along their production line.

For more information on x-ray product inspection and how your production line can benefit from it read our latest eBook, ‘5 Reasons to Invest in X-ray Inspection for Quality Assurance.’