Product inspection equipment systems – including industrial food metal detectors and X-ray inspection systems – can help provide food manufacturers with the performance and service they need to detect foreign objects in food and improve the quality and safety of products.
Food Metal detectors, in particular, provide reliable, cost-effective protection from even the smallest metal contaminants found anywhere in a food production process. They can also help improve operational efficiency and eliminate expensive downtime, service costs and repair bills.
There are many uniquely designed metal detectors suited for a wide range of demanding food processing and packaging environments including the meat industry. But first let’s look at why finding the right product inspection equipment can be difficult.
Processing meat products is inherently fraught with risks that present product quality and safety challenges to food processors. First and foremost is to avoid the possibility of biological contamination. This requires diligence in following sanitary processes including harsh and frequent cleaning procedures with wide temperature swings. A rigorous sanitation process such as this creates expensive, albeit necessary downtime. In addition to preventing biological contamination, food processors must also ensure the right processes and equipment are in place to avoid the possibility of unwanted foreign objects entering their process at any stage, including when supplier ingredients are added.
Meat can be delivered to consumers in many forms, including:
- Spiced and salted processed products
- Deli-style layered slices
- Moist or bloody whole muscle cuts
- Ready to eat meals containing meat
Because of the high moisture and additional food ingredients contained in these products, washdown requirements in the meat industry can be very demanding. The USDA calls for sanitation standards that can include high-temperature and pressure spray-down and use of caustic cleaners. So, the equipment must be built for this rough treatment.
For the most part, food metal detectors use coils wound on a nonmetallic frame and connected to a high-frequency radio transmitter. When a particle of metal passes through the coils of a metal detector, the high-frequency field is disturbed under one coil, changing the voltage by a few microvolts. The output is used to detect metal. Multiple transmit coils can be configured to yield a more effective magnetic field and much improved sensitivity so that metal spheres up to 20% smaller in diameter can be detected reliably. All that technology, as well as the public’s health, needs to be protected.
Many metal detectors today are built to the IP69K rating (80˚C water at up to 1450 PSI), but this alone does not provide long-term defense from water intrusion into the metal detector case. In a typical meat processing plant, the equipment is used at a 40˚C ambient temperature but may be cleaned, sometime several times a day, using 80˚C water.
Such thermal shock cycling can cause cracks in the seal between the epoxy aperture and metal case such that water can leak into the detection coils. The result is a permanent imbalance that only an expensive factory repair can address, and it is typically required every few years.
In addition to these design features, metal detectors may also feature anti-corrosive 316 stainless steel (medical grade). This ensures that it cannot rust if harsh cleaning chemicals are not 100% removed during rinsing. The result is that the system has maximum uptime, performance does not degrade and the elimination of long-term repair costs.
After all, you don’t want your profits washed down the drain.
For more details about inspection in the meat processing industry, read our application note, Foreign object detection challenges in meat processing.