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Business Drivers for X-ray Inspection – Part 2

Food & Beverage, Red Meat

Your HACCP audit identified your food products are at risk of physical contaminants other than metal

There are many valid reasons for you to choose x-ray inspection over other product inspection methods. However, our recent Expert Hub Blog, “5 Reasons to Invest in X-ray Inspection for Quality Assurance“, addressed the five key business drivers that make adding x-ray detection systems to your production line inevitable.

This article explores the second motivation to invest in x-ray inspection: Your HACCP audit identified your food products are at risk of physical contaminants other than metal.

HACCP Principles

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) is a systematic preventive approach to food safety used by manufacturers to identify where hazards might occur during the production process and establish procedures to mitigate the risk of them occurring. It’s based on seven core principles:

  • Conduct a food safety hazard analysis
  • Identify the critical control points (CCPs) – points at which a hazard is optimally controlled
  • Establish critical limits for each CCP
  • Establish CCP monitoring requirements
  • Establish corrective actions when monitoring to indicate that a particular CCP is not under control
  • Establish record-keeping procedures
  • Establish procedures to verify system is working as intended

These principles form the basis of most GFSI-recognized food safety and quality assurance systems.

Different foreign object detection systems offer differing capabilities and in order to determine the system best suited to your individual application, the first step is to carry out a HACCP audit. This will identify the risks of foreign matter contamination being introduced into your manufacturing process. Critical Control Points (CCPs) should then be established to mitigate the risks, and product inspection equipment installed at these points.

If your HACCP audit determines that metal is the only likely contaminant to be found, then a metal detector will probably provide the best solution. However, if other contaminants such as glass, mineral stone, calcified bone or high-density plastic and rubber are identified as likely to be encountered, then x-ray is the only solution.

All X-ray Technology is Not Created Equally

Despite providing unrivalled detection of metal, glass and calcified bone, standard x-ray systems are incapable of detecting flat glass or low-density plastics, rubber, stones and rocks in most food-based products. Finding physical contaminants in products with complex density levels (high variations in density) can also prove challenging for traditional x-ray inspection systems.

The ability of MDX to discriminate materials by their chemical composition (atomic number) enhances traditional x-ray inspection by enabling the detection of historically-undetectable inorganic contaminants.

In addition, MDX technology allows food processors to inspect products in increasingly popular packaging designs, such as fold-out cardboard sandwich packaging and corrugated card encasements that plague traditional x-ray inspection tools.

MDX technology also lends itself to inspecting ‘difficult’ or ‘busy’ x-ray images that contain varied density distribution, and is especially valuable for inspecting bulk and packaged foods such as bags of mixed salad leaves, cereals, nuts and confectionery that contain high variations in density.

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