X-Ray Food Inspection in Processing vs. Packaging

Food & Beverage, OEM & System Integrators, Poultry, Red Meat, Seafood
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When a foreign body is detected in a food product that has made it all the way to the packaging stage, production can come to a screeching halt. From the initial reception of a raw ingredient like red meat, poultry, or a vegetable, to the final packaging step, there are countless opportunities for contaminants to be introduced to the processing stream. With this in mind, many food processors are realizing that just one inspection point for their production line is not enough. In today’s blog, we’ll be comparing the differences and similarities between foreign body detection in food processing and packaging.

The Industry Standard: X-Ray Food Inspection in Packaging

If you ask anybody in today’s food processing industry, they are likely well aware of the importance of foreign body detection in the packaging stage. The final inspection point at the end of the packaging line is commonly employed as a tool to check your work, ensuring that no unwanted items will make it to the consumer. An inspection system can be an excellent way to streamline that final check- but what do you do when a foreign body is detected at that point?

If your only inspection point is at the end of the packaging line, there’s no telling when that item could have been introduced into the product stream. There’s also no way to know how much more product could potentially contain contaminants or other unwanted foreign bodies until it also gets to the end of the line. With this single inspection-point approach, it just takes one fragment to cause a massive bottleneck in your production. At this point, you have to throw out the entire contaminated package. You’ve wasted product, packaging materials and time.

Contaminants to look for in Final Packaging

If your only inspection point is at the packaging stage, there is a much higher chance that you may find two different kinds of unwanted material in your final product. One kind includes organic foreign bodies like bone and rocks that have made it all the way through your processing line. The other kind would be inorganic contaminants like broken pieces from the production line equipment itself. Some items to look out for include:

  • Metal shavings
  • Conveyor fragments
  • Plastic or rubber chunks
Quality assurance in food processing isn’t always a one-and-done process. Contact Eagle PI today to discover if a multi-point inspection system is right for you. Contact US >>>

The Next Level: X-Ray Food Inspection in Processing

The earlier a foreign body can be identified and eliminated from a production line, the better. When left unchecked, all it takes is a single foreign body to snowball into a multi-million dollar production slowdown. Imagine, for instance, that a rock or bone fragment makes its way into a processing line at the very beginning. Not only will that fragment pose a safety hazard to the end consumer if it were to make it through the packaging inspection point; it also holds massive potential for equipment damage as it makes its way downstream to the end of the line.

No matter which way you look at it, equipment damage is a production nightmare. On one hand, when a piece of equipment is damaged it will likely produce debris in the form of metal shavings, blade fragments, conveyor chunks, or a similar inorganic foreign body. Just like the initial fragment, this produces even more potential for damage to equipment further down the line and hazards to the end consumer.

In addition to that, damaged equipment will likely not perform as intended. For example, cell damage that happens during the slicing stage of a potato chip will lead to improper frying that can cause oil soaks.

Finally is the issue of addressing and resolving equipment damage. To address equipment malfunctions of this degree, the station must come to a halt, often slowing down the entire production line if not bringing it to a stop altogether. At best, this can take a quick moment; but at worst, production can be paused for hours or even days.

For these reasons, an x-ray inspection machine can be an indispensable tool when placed at an early insertion point in food processing. By identifying foreign bodies from a food source at an early stage, food processors can save big on costs associated with downtime, maintenance, scrap and rework.

Foreign Bodies to Look for in Early Processing

There are a few foreign bodies that are more likely to be identified in the early production stage in raw ingredients. Some of these items include:

  • Needles
  • Bone and bone fragments
  • Stones
  • Golf balls (a surprisingly common foreign body found in potato processing)
Needles in Potatoes
Bone Detection with PXT™
Stones in Trail Mix
Plastic Golf Ball Pieces in Potato Fries

By catching these items in the early processing stages, you can improve the overall quality of your end product, reduce the risk of equipment damage, and save on costs related to maintenance and downtime.

As food processing equipment continues to become more advanced and precise, it’s now become more important than ever to detect smaller objects as early as possible. Eagle’s x-ray food inspection equipment, loaded with our signature PXT™ technology, is uniquely capable of meeting the stringent demands of today’s food processors. With the ability to detect bone fragments as small as 1 mm and contaminants as small as 0.6 mm, there’s no better way to advance your inspection system than with Eagle x-ray food inspection equipment.

Want to adopt a multi-inspection point system for your production line, but don’t know where to start? Leave it to the experts! Contact Eagle PI today to schedule an evaluation and consultation. CONTACT US >>>

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