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Guide | Tips for metal detection selection

Practical Tips for Metal Detection Selection

Guidance on choosing the right metal detection system for your application

Guide to X-ray Inspection Technology In the Food and Pharmaceutical Industries

Guide to X-ray Inspection Technology

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What happens to product quality when cans are overfilled or underfilled?

When canned foods are consistently underfilled, customers notice. They may return the product, and they may avoid future purchases of the brand. Consistently underfilled products can cause unsatisfied customers and negatively impact brand reputation, and can even open the company up to legal action for running afoul of weights and measures regulations. Overfilled cans aren't as likely to lead to customer complaints, but frequent overfilling can lead to unnecessary product waste and lost profits.

In order to avoid the issue of under- or overfilling, many manufacturers opt for a food checkweigher to perform in-motion weighing of each can via a conveyor belt, or a food x-ray inspection system to monitor the fill levels of sealed cans.

Food and beverage cans on a checkweigher

What are three ways to prevent physical contamination in food manufacturing?

Prevention of physical contamination in food products is vital to protecting customer safety, preventing costly product recalls, and avoiding damage to the brand reputation. Three ways manufacturers of food and beverage products can work to avoid the risk of physical contamination in theeir product reaching the consumer:

  1. Have a risk assessment from a food safety expert. A qualified Food Safety Consultant can audit your facility and let you know the areas that have the highest risk for foreign contamination. This might be at the beginning of the line where raw materials come in, during production where fragile machinery are used, or at the end of the line if there is any chance of accidental foreign body contamination. Depending on the location or the likely type of contaminant, the consultant may suggest that you install product inspection equipment such as an industrial metal detector for food or an x-ray inspection system for food at these Critical Control Points, or CCPs.
  2. Have an effective product inspection plan in place! Local and global regulations are more and more frequently requiring manufacturers of food products to use some form of product inspection equipment to monitor for foreign body contamination - which means an industrial metal detector or an x-ray inspection system. It's also important to properly store and review the data received from your equipment, both for your own knowledge of what is going on in your factory, and to have available in the case of an audit. This can be made easier by using the right Food Safety and Quality Management System (QMS) software, which can connect all of your product inspection equipment for a complete picture of the process.
  3. After deciding on the equipment best suited for your application, it's important to keep on top of maintenance, frequently test the product inspection equipment to confirm it is working as it should, and properly train your employees on how to use and maintain the equipment. Having a global expert service and support team you trust can be a great way to take advantage of on or offsite product inspection maintenance and support, product inspection upgrades, trainings on product inspection equipment, and more.


How is x-ray inspection used in the food industry?

X-ray inspection of food and beverages

Food inspection with x-ray inspection technology is used in food manufacturing to perform foreign body inspections on a variety of food types, including packaged, unpackaged bulk or frozen, and even pumped liquids, slurries, or pastes. The x-ray inspection system can identify physical contaminants such as metal, glass, calcified bone, stone and dense plastic to protect the safety of your product.

X-ray systems can also inspect the integrity of the product with tools that can measure mass, count components, identify missing or broken products, monitor fill levels, inspect seal integrity and check for damaged products or packaging.

See a few of our x-ray systems for the food industry

What is label verification?

In the food and beverage industry, label inspection verification is done to confirm that printed information such as ingredients, allergens, graphics, IDs and barcodes are present and correct. It also confirms the presence, readability, and correct positioning of the label, and makes sure there are no wrinkles or tears.

Using vision systems in food manufacturing is an important step in the product inspection process because mislabeled products are a preventable cause of costly product recalls which can damage the brand reputation and the manufacturers bottom line.

In addition, product presentation plays an important role in the products a consumer chooses to purchase. Crooked, incorrect, or improperly applied labels can leave a poor impression of the overall product. 

Many manufacturers avoid these issues altogether adding automated food vision systems to their overall product inspection program. These systems can be configured to inspect a variety of package sizes and shapes, and can even be combined with other product inspection equipment such as combination checkweighers and vision inspection systems and combination checkweighers, metal detection and vision inspection systems for high efficiency in smaller spaces.

Label verification in food and beverages

What is the main function of a checkweigher for food?

Case Study: Baked Goods Checkweigher

Case Study: Baked Goods Checkweigher
Checkweighing in baked goods - a video case study from METTLER TOLEDO

The main function of a food checkweigher is to verify the weight of food products as they move along a conveyor belt in a production line. This important step in food product inspection helps to prevent under- and overfilled food packages from reaching consumers and helps support compliance with local and global weights and measures regulations. This helps to minimize the risk of costly product recalls as well as keeping consumers happy and avoiding wasteful product giveaway.

Food checkweighers can also perform completeness checks for presence of package components, and can also be combined with other product inspection equipment such as x-ray inspection and checkweighingmetal detection and checkweighing, and machine vision inspection and checkweighing. They can even be combined with multiple technologies for an efficient use of space and higher protection capabilities.

Where are industrial metal detection systems used in food processing lines?

Industrial metal detectors for food production are used at various stages of production, depending on where on the production line the product is most likely to be subject to metal contaminants. These high-risk locations are known as “Critical Control Points” (CCPs) and are defined locations where product inspection equipment such as industrial metal detectors are best placed.

Metal detection systems can be used at the beginning of the production line to monitor the quality of incoming raw materials and to protect expensive downstream equipment. They can be used during manufacturing at high risk areas of metal contamination. They can also be used at the end of the line, prior to shipping, where the risk of additional contamination is minimal.

For the highest amount of protection to consumers and brand reputation, many manufacturers decide to use metal detection and other product inspection technology in two or more areas on the production line, further reducing the risk of a disastrous food recall.

METTLER TOLEDO Product Inspection is a manufacturer of metal detection systems designed for a number of industries, including: 


Chocolate bars on an industrial metal detector

What are the most common packaging-related challenges in food production, and how can they be prevented?

The most typical issues that food manufacturers deal with in the packaging of their food products are: overfilled or underfilled packages, packages that are missing components (such as leaflets), damaged or compromised seals, and labels with missing, incomplete, incorrect information.

To remedy these issues, automated inspection devices are used in the production process to assist with several of these production challenges. Food checkweighers and x-ray inspection systems for food help to monitor for correct filling and missing components, while x-ray and machine vision inspection can be used to inspect package seals. Vision inspection can also be used to check that labels are present, correct, contain all the required information, and are not damaged.

How can product inspection equipment support quality assurance and due diligence in the food industry?

Many modern quality inspection systems can monitor fill-levels in your food and beverage products – deciding which one is best to use comes down to the type of product, size and type of packaging, whether you need to automatically adjust fill settings based on weight data, and if other quality checks are desired along with checking for correct fill levels.

If you only need to monitor fill levels by weight to meet regulatory guidelines or standards, or if you want to closely monitor filling processes and automatically adjust fill-heads to meet compliance needs - without wasting valuable product - your best bet may be an in-motion checkweigher. Checkweighers for the food industry can reliably weigh each individual product at high speeds, and safely reject any items that don’t meet standards without slowing down the production line. Product handling options such as guide rails are available to allow unstable products to move at speed for weighing without toppling or creating unexpected downtime by causing a jam in the product line.

If it’s more important for your product to measure for mass or the actual level of a product prone to settling, you will be more suited to going with an industrial x-ray inspection system. Food industry x-ray inspection machines can verify fill levels and perform mass measurements, with the added ability to detect for foreign contaminants along with other quality checks such as package integrity and broken item monitoring.

Supporting quality assurance in the food industry with product inspection

How can product inspection equipment support quality assurance and due diligence in the food industry?

Implementing a comprehensive quality control process that includes the use of automated inspection equipment at pre-determined critical control points (CCPs) is one of the best ways to deliver high-quality products to retailers. With product inspection equipment, you can minimize specific risks or hazards consumer safety and product quality.

In addition, using smart QMS software, also known as Quality Management System software, to continuously monitor and evaluate the operations of your product inspection equipment can help improve efficiency and make automated adjustments on the fly, while keeping digital records of inspection data to prove due diligence.

How does HACCP compare to current food production and inspection programs?

The internationally applied HACCP approach (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) focuses on specific processes or products, identifying and controlling specific hazards.

While HACCP focuses specifically on hazard analysis and control, the HARPC (Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls) and cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) programs provide a more comprehensive approach and incorporates preventative measures, risk-based considerations, and broader manufacturing standards.

HARPC is a US-centric program which is enforced by the FDA. It has a broader approach to addressing food safety and other food risks, including intentional adulteration and economically motivated fraud. cGMP is a requirement in several countries and provides a wider scope of requirements for the overall manufacturing environment and practices.

These programs should be integrated together to establish a robust food safety management program.

How does the FDA regulate packaging in food?

The FDA mainly relies on conducting in-person or remote audits to verify that manufacturers are following the required guidelines for food packaging. If packaging violations are uncovered, the manufacturers run the risk of mandatory or voluntary product recalls plus the accompanying fines.