When you are at the grocery store and your purchases are being bagged, you might keep an eye on your cookies to make sure they are not crushed by cans and heavier items that may be placed on top of them. However, crushed cookies are sometimes the main ingredient in desserts like truffles, ice cream, ice cream cakes, cookie bars, cheesecake, and even pie crusts.
Manufacturers can crush cookies to various specifications and different sizes for food service companies and providers of other confectionary products. According to Creative Food Ingredients, certain applications may call for multiple grind sizes depending on whether the crushed cookie product is within, on top of, or the dessert base itself.
What should also be of concern, however, is that the mound of crushed cookies is not hiding a metal contaminant.
Metal contaminants falling into food is not unheard of. Food manufacturers might find broken metal in processing equipment during routine maintenance, which means metal could have fallen into the food products along the way. Pieces of screens, loose metal fasteners, and broken pieces of machinery are not uncommon. The key is finding them before they end up in consumers’ hands where they can do harm and cause a costly recall.
Most food processing companies utilize food safety inspection equipment in order to ensure that physical contaminants do not get through the production stream and get shipped out the door.
When a main concern is metal, wires, or mesh screen contamination in small, dry products, then manufacturers should use a food metal detector. Metal detectors use high frequency radio signals to detect the presence of metal in food or other products. A digital signal processing system analyzes certain signals and sends an alert if metal is present. Multiscan metal detectors are capable of scanning up to five user-selectable frequencies running at a time, and has a higher probability of finding ferrous, non-ferrous, and stainless steel metal contaminants in challenging applications.
Testing the Cookies
One provider of crushed cookies asked us to test Multiscan metal detector technology on their products. They sent us a 25lb case of crushed chocolate cookies, which were bagged inside the box.
Since this was a tightly phased product with varying product signal levels (as product presentation changes from package to package) we tested it on a 350mm x 350mm Multiscan metal detector system. Multi frequency is beneficial in detecting metals at different locations in the package with different frequencies, thus increasing the probability of detecting smaller sizes of metal.
We cut the width of the case down in order to correctly size the product to the available metal detector aperture. Then, we passed the product through the system multiple times to verify settings before putting test spheres inside the center of the case for contaminant detection. Metal test spheres were also tested on leading and trailing sides of the case. During product tests, it’s important to incorporate elements of the customer’s production environment and to consider metal contamination at any position within the package. After all, a real metal contaminant may embed anywhere inside the product unpredictably.
By testing in this manner, we were able to provide an accurate detection level that the customer could trust. We proved that we could satisfy the customer’s requirement no matter where the contaminant may be inside the package, keeping them safe.
With the protection of a Multiscan metal detector, the cookie provider can be confident in the quality of its products and know that the company is just ‘crushing it’ when it comes to shipping a quality product out the door that is free of metal contamination. That’s one ingredient no one wants to see on their crushed cookie dessert.