Avoid the costly business of product recalls by going beneath the surface

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

According to the UN's World Food Safety Day initiative, food safety is everyone's business. Pic: GettyImages
According to the UN's World Food Safety Day initiative, food safety is everyone's business. Pic: GettyImages

Related tags Mettler toledo safeline X-ray inspection Food safety Product recall contamination

Annually, around 420,000 people die after consuming contaminated food. These are preventable deaths. To change this status quo and inspire action, in 2018, the United Nation established the World Food Safety Day (WFSD).

Consumers often blindly put their faith in manufacturers to produce treats that are safe to eat. Contamination can be caused by a host of factors, from unregulated food handling to not being store correctly to physical contamination, which can happen at any time between farm to table.

In the lead up to the fifth WFSD (7 June), the UN is once again driving home the message that food standards save lives, calling for action by everyone from policymakers to food producers and consumers.

WFSD 2023 banner

Precision instrument manufacturer Mettler-Toledo is firmly onboard with a technology that helps to provide end products that are compliant with regulatory standards and safe for consumption.

It could save a producer millions of dollars in direct costs associated with a product recall.

“With the rise of consumer scrutiny through social media and the heightened focus on food safety across the world, staying ahead of the game has never been more critical,”​ said Mike Pipe, head of Global Sales & Product Management, Mettler-Toledo Safeline X-ray.

“Thankfully, game-changing smart x-ray inspection technology can help.

“In this exciting era of innovation, we delve into the world of advanced x-ray inspection and its pivotal role in revolutionising food safety, enhancing compliance and safeguarding consumer trust.

Unlocking a hidden realm

Mettler Toledo x-ray

The pursuit of producing safe products should lie at the heart of every reputable food manufacturer.

However, lurking in the shadows are inconsistencies within products and foreign body contaminants that threaten to compromise these goals.

Enter x-ray inspection, an innovative tech that unlocks a hidden realm.

“X-ray inspection empowers manufacturers to identify potential hazards beneath the surface of their products,”​ said Pike.

“With a keen eye for detail, this cutting-edge technology uses advanced imaging processing to detect and expose foreign objects, ranging from metal fragments to stones, glass shards and even dense plastic, rubber or calcified bone.

“It helps manufacturers to provide the safest and highest-quality food products to consumers.”

Complying with rigorous food standards and regulations isn’t just a box to check; it’s an unwavering commitment to consumer wellbeing and brand integrity. The consequences of failing to comply can range from legal battles and aforementioned costs to a damaged brand reputation.

As such, to help support manufacturers in their compliance processes, x-ray inspection systems go beyond the detection of contaminants.

“To improve product quality and enhance brand protection, the technology simultaneously completes a large range of quality checks such as precisely identifying product inconsistencies,”​ said Pike.

“Whether it’s a missing component or a malformed product, x-ray inspection technology helps verify product quality. By integrating x-ray inspection into quality control systems, manufacturers can be confident in their ability to detect and rectify issues at the earliest stages of production. Through this proactive approach, manufacturers minimise the risk of non-compliant products making it through the production process and into the hands of their consumers.”

Boosting productivity

Mettler-Toledo software

Today’s smart x-ray inspection systems are designed to also boost manufacturing productivity.

Intelligent inspection software helps achieve this through automatic set-ups that detect the hardest-to-find contaminants, rejecting only the unwanted element without wastage.

Modular mechanical design features of advanced x-ray systems allow full frontal access to common operations, complemented by easy-to-remove and reassemble vital components, such as conveyor belts and lead-free, low friction curtains. This means that product handling, cleaning and service routines are more efficient and require less time.

“Embracing x-ray inspection technology provides manufacturers with unparalleled advantages that elevate production processes to new heights,” said Pike, pointing to  process optimisation.

X-ray inspection systems can be connected to data management software, which gives producers real-time data and analytics that uncover hidden patterns and trends within production lines. This allows manufacturers to optimise their processes, reduce waste, enhance efficiency and maximise their uptime with minimal software investment costs.

Furthermore, x-ray inspection technology paves the way for comprehensive traceability systems.

The automated inspection of barcodes, for example, allows manufacturers to trace inspection results back to specific batches or lots, especially vital when targeted product recalls and thorough investigations are needed. With a clear path to follow, manufacturers can identify the root causes of issues, implement robust corrective actions and continuously elevate their food safety protocols.

“X-ray inspection systems are a vital piece of production line equipment for companies within the food industry,”​ said Pike.

“By embracing this tech, manufacturers can differentiate themselves from competitors, deliver the best possible products to customers, boost compliance and above all, provide improved products for their consumers.”

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