The use of metal detection test pieces in the food industry has become standard, and with good reason. It is crucial that all food product manufacturers carefully inspect their products to ensure that no contaminants are present. Not only will this guarantee the safety of their product and the consumer, it can also save money by avoiding the need to shut down production entirely or pay legal expenses should any contaminated products reach consumers.
Of course, the first thing most people would think when considering the use of a metal detector in a food processing system is, “Why should this be necessary?” After all, if a manufacturing plant is adhering to all health and safety standards, there shouldn’t be a need to incorporate a metal detector in the food inspection procedure. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Even the cleanest, most well-run facility can have the unfortunate issue of metal contamination, so there is no reason not to incorporate the use of a metal detector.
So where is this contamination coming from and why would you need to consider using metal detection test pieces for inspection purposes? There can actually be many different sources of possible contamination within a food manufacturing plant. Unclean working conditions are just one of those possibilities. But in fact, however, the greater majority of contamination is not caused by unsanitary conditions or lax work habits but rather by the natural degrading of the manufacturing machinery.
All around a food production plant, there is machinery and a great deal of that machinery is made of metal. Over time, that metal can rust, wear down, or break apart, and the resulting metal particles can find their way into food as it passes through the machinery. The purpose of metal detectors in food processing procedures is to detect the presence of any contamination and prevent affected products from reaching the public.
The process involved in a metal detector food inspection is really quite simple. Most food production takes place using some kind of conveyor system, gravity feed or inline processing, passing the product through various stages of preparation until it is packaged and sealed. A metal detector should be incorporated, ideally at the very end of this process, to carefully scan each product for the presence of any metal particles. If a particle is detected, then the product in question would be automatically rejected before it can be approved for shipping.
There are several types of metal detectors that food industry technicians can use. The most common, with the goal of detecting ferrous, non-ferrous and stainless steel metals, relies on the principal of “balanced coils” while the other uses a magnetic field system to detect metal typically within products that are wrapped in foil.
The difference between the two has to do with the way contaminants are detected. In a balanced coil metal detector system, food is “scanned” while the transmitting coil generates a magnetic field. The presence of a metal in the product creates a change in the magnetic field between the receiving coils. In a magnetic field system, the contaminants are magnetized as they pass through and the magnetized particles then trigger a detection system within the coils that highlights the contaminant.
No matter which system a manufacturer uses, it is absolutely crucial that it be tested regularly to make sure that it is functioning properly. To do this, test pieces are used in the metal detector food inspection process. These pieces are made from a variety of plastics and contain “seeds” of metal. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes depending on the particular dimensions and structure of your specific equipment and the product being tested.
The test pieces are placed within a collection of finished products, usually toward the end of the pack. For the best possible results, the pack of finished products should be passed through the equipment twice, once with the test piece at the leading edge of the pack and once at the end. If your machinery is working properly, it should detect the metal in the test pieces and reject them.
Regal Packaging Services has been providing metal detection test pieces for food industry companies since 1998. We carefully manufacture and certify each test piece so that our customers are guaranteed to get a quality product that meets the standards of the food industry. And we can even customize your pieces to fit your exact specifications so that you know you’re getting the perfect fit every time. So don’t take chances with your metal detector maintenance…come to Regal and get the best.