Some food inspection systems use X-ray technology to identify physical hazards that may have inadvertently entered the food processing stream, either in raw materials or during production. These physical contaminants can include bone, stone, wood, glass, plastic and metal fragments (from bolts, screws, mesh screens, etc.). Finding and removing these before shipping the products helps ensure the safety of consumers, because ingesting some of these items could be detrimental to their health.
Over the past couple of decades, food processors have increasingly come to rely on X-ray inspection equipment to detect these physical contaminants during production. Food X-ray inspection systems are based on the density of both the product and the contaminant.
X-rays are simply light waves that we can’t see. They have a very short wavelength, which corresponds to very high energy. As an X-ray penetrates a food product, it loses some of its energy. A dense area, such as a contaminant, reduces the energy even further. As the X-ray exits the product, it reaches a sensor, which then converts the energy signal into an image of the interior of the food product.
But how safe is X-ray technology, and is the equipment itself safe to operate? We gathered our most frequently asked questions about the safety of the X-ray inspection equipment used in the food and beverage industry and presented the answers on one page.
Visit The Safety of X-ray Inspection of Food Products FAQs to learn the answers to these questions:
- Why do foods need to be inspected by X-ray inspection systems?
- How does food X-ray inspection work?
- Are food X-ray inspection systems safe?
- Will workers be harmed by radiation from a food X-ray inspection system?
- How does exposure from a food X-ray inspection system compare to other sources of radiation?
- Are there regulatory standards for food X-ray systems?
After reading the answers, you’ll be confident that X-ray inspection of packaged and bulk food products is proven to be extremely safe. There is no documented evidence of adverse health effects of X-rays on equipment operators, the food products that travel through the equipment or the people who consume those products.