X-ray Detection in Raw Materials: Do’s and Don’ts

Food & Beverage
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Whether driven by good manufacturing practices, adherence to HACCP and FSMA regulation or operational common sense, processors can prevent safety and quality problems associated with physical contaminants in products by using advanced x-ray technology to inspect raw materials. 

No sense starting over when you can start out right. X-ray technology is a powerful tool in optimizing raw material, ranging from fresh meat and poultry to grains to a host of ingredients to be incorporated into ready meals. The effective use of x-ray machines at the raw material stage helps ensure that contaminants are found and removed at the beginning of the process and helps improve product consistency for overall quality purposes.

So, what can and should manufacturers do to get the raw truth? Let’s start with the Don’ts.

DON’T. Don’t assume that product that comes to you from other suppliers is free from foreign bodies. Incoming raw materials can arrive from a variety of other plants that may or may not have thoroughly vetted products before distribution to your facility. Performing inspection of raw materials when they arrive in your plant is a safeguard at a critical control point and, with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), is part of a processor’s vendor quality program.

DON’T. Don’t overlook certain categories of contaminants. One might not think a bone would be common in nuts, for example, but there is a possibility that when nuts are harvested in the field, a bone from an animal in that field could be gathered with the raw nuts.

DON’T. Don’t leave any gaps in your detection coverage, assuming contaminants and inconsistences will be found later, down the line. Just as there are multiple critical control points, there are multiple points of detection and intervention.

DO. Take advantage of the latest technologies in inspection and detection. Powerful x-ray machines from Eagle Product Inspection can find small contaminants in a variety of raw materials with their own unique properties and challenges, including products in the meat and poultry, dairy, cereal/grains, bakery/snack, confection and fresh produce industries, among others. For raw materials that are dense or multi-textured and are difficult to inspect with single energy x-ray technology, Eagle offers dual energy x-ray technology, Material Discrimination X-ray (MDX), that measures the ratio of two different sets of x-ray energies passing through a product to distinguish between organic and inorganic materials to easily find foreign bodies in food.

DO. Collect and store information on early-stage inspection of raw material. Eagle’s proprietary SimulTask PRO software captures information on what, when and by whom product was inspected, providing a record for true traceability.

Click here to learn how one food company uses x-ray technology early in the process to find and reject contaminants in fresh-from the-field items.

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