Let’s talk about something close to our hearts and stomachs: food safety. We all want our snacks and meals to be not just delicious but safe too, right?

So, here’s the lowdown on how our food superheroes—product inspection technologies—are stepping up to keep munchies and meals more secure, writes Kati Hope, Global Account Manager, Mettler-Toledo Product Inspection.

Well, it’s no secret that safety-first is a must in the food industry. As consumers gobble up those tasty treats, they probably don’t stop to think about the meticulous measures manufacturers take to make sure every bite is a delicious – and safe – adventure.

The presence of foreign bodies in food can lead to serious health risks and costly product recalls. Tackling this challenge head-on, manufacturers can use state-of-the-art metal detection systems. These systems leverage electromagnetic fields to identify and eliminate metallic contaminants across a range of food products—whether they’re in a pipeline, free-falling or on a conveyor. Whether it’s the dry delights of chocolates or the creamy goodness of dairy products, metal detection systems seamlessly can become part of the production process, serving as a crucial checkpoint for detecting foreign bodies.

Filtering Out Unwanted Elements

Metal detection systems specialise in identifying metallic contaminants. However, if a manufacturer needs to identify other foreign bodies, such as calcified bone, dense plastics and glass, then x-ray inspection technology is the only solution.

X-ray systems present a versatile solution for detecting a broad spectrum of foreign body contaminants, ranging from glass and stones to hard, dense plastic and even bone fragments. Positioned at critical control points along the production line, x-ray inspection offers a heightened level of food safety. Crucially, x-ray technology is safe for food products, emitting no harmful radiation.

Enhancing Quality Assurance

Beyond its capability to detect diverse contaminants, x-ray inspection technology plays a crucial role in conducting thorough quality checks and enhancing overall food safety. Manufacturers, leveraging x-ray inspection, can validate product integrity, perform proper filling, identify missing or broken items and affirm the presence of inserts or seals. These supplementary checks add an additional layer of assurance, leading to the delivery of safe and high-quality food products to consumers.

Accuracy in Weight

Accurate weighing is paramount for food safety, particularly for vulnerable consumers such as babies who depend on specific portions of milk, food or powder. Integrated into the production line, checkweighers assume a crucial role in validating the weight of individual products. By carefully measuring and rejecting under- and over-weight items, checkweighers contribute to mitigating potential risks associated with incorrect portion sizes. The incorporation of innovative load cell technologies like FlashCell™ enhances checkweigher performance, providing swift and accurate weighing capabilities, even in high-speed production environments.

Furthermore, design enhancements tailored for harsh washdown environments enable product inspection systems to withstand rigorous cleaning procedures, reducing potential sources of contamination. This amalgamation of advanced features gives comprehensive contaminant detection and precise weight control checks, even in demanding production settings, thereby fortifying food safety efforts.

Labelling Effectively

Precise labelling is crucial for consumer safety and regulatory adherence. Vision inspection technology provides a dependable solution for identifying mislabelled products. Fully automated label inspection systems, covering all label challenges and orientation issues, are now available, inspecting products of various shapes with remarkable precision.

Through the integration of high-resolution cameras and advanced image analysis algorithms, vision inspection systems can scrutinise label information, encompassing text, graphics, barcodes and expiration dates. Any inconsistencies or errors are promptly flagged, providing manufacturers with the assurance that only accurately labelled products make it to the market.

Protecting Businesses

Looking out for your business goes beyond just keeping consumers safe—it’s a game-changer for manufacturers. Every product inspection system keeps a constant eye on inspections, gathering all that valuable data. To add an extra layer of transparency, intuitive software like ProdX™ kicks things up a gear. It takes all that inspection data, combines it digitally and gives manufacturers the full lowdown in case anything goes wrong. It’s like having a sidekick for regulatory compliance, making audits a breeze.

Boosting Productivity

Getting those product inspection technologies on board isn’t just about playing it safe with food—it’s also a big win for productivity. Automating the essentials cuts down on human errors, ramps production efficiency and puts the brakes on recall risks. By smoothing out operations and keeping things running at full tilt, manufacturers can ace meeting consumer demands without skimping on top-notch food safety. One way of streamlining operations plus saving space at critical control points is integrating a combination inspection system into the production line. Based on a manufacturer’s quality assurance requirements, companies can benefit from a system which combines either metal detection or x-ray inspection with checkweighing and/or vision inspection technology. Manufacturers can save factory floor space, time and money with a single system and training.

Just like superheroes save the world from threats, product inspection solutions act as indispensable heroes in food safety and protect both consumers and businesses. By adeptly detecting and eliminating foreign body contaminants, maintaining precise weight, averting mislabelled products and leveraging digital solutions for real-time monitoring and traceability, these technological solutions enable manufacturers to elevate food safety practices, meet stringent regulations and deliver products of the highest quality.

For more information visit www.mt.com/pi-guides-pr


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