Glass Detection in Food Production: Preventing Contamination

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bottled beer product passing through x ray inspection system

As a food manufacturer, physical contamination of products is one of your greatest hazards. If even a small shard of glass makes it into your food products, you risk injuring customers and putting your company’s reputation and compliance on the line. That’s why you need the highest-quality technology for glass detection in food production.

With the right systems and protocols in place, your business can instantly detect even the smallest glass shards, ensuring that no contaminated products make it out of your facility. Reliable technology gives you peace of mind about your business’s safety, compliance, and quality control.

How Do Glass Detection Systems Enhance Food Safety?

Glass is a common packaging material in the food sector. It’s non-porous, heat-resistant, hygienic, and easy to clean, making it ideal for storing and transporting a wide range of foods. Unfortunately, glass can crack, break, and shatter more easily than other manufacturing materials, making it susceptible to ending up in food products.

Food manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products are free from contaminants that could harm their customers. By using the best glass detection systems, manufacturers catch glass contamination while a product is still in the assembly line. They can then remove contaminated products and pinpoint errors that led to contamination, ensuring safer production overall.

What Are the Different Methods and Technologies Used for Glass Detection?

employee inspecting product quality at beverage factory

Modern innovations have created several reliable methods of glass detection in food production. Your business should use at least two of these systems to accurately identify all traces of glass in your food products.

X-Ray Inspection Systems

X-ray technology offers some of the most reliable and consistent glass detection capabilities. This technology looks for density variations in food products to identify foreign objects. Different types of glass have different densities, but the best x-ray food inspection systems can identify even low-density glass in a food product with ease.

Metal Detectors With Glass Detection Capabilities

Most metal detectors cannot reliably detect glass, so they should not be your only line of defense against glass contamination. But your business may employ x-ray inspection systems that also use metal detection technology, allowing you to detect both types of materials.

Optical Sorting Machines

Optical sorting machines use cameras or lasers to recognize an object’s physical properties and chemical composition. They can detect the color, size, shape, and structural properties of objects within your assembly line and, most importantly, identify the presence of glass and other contaminants.

The best optical sorting machines can detect glass shards as small as 0.1 square millimeter.

Ultrasonic Detection Methods

Ultrasonic sensors send pulses through the air and measure the distance until the pulse reaches an obstacle or object. This detection technology works well for detecting glass in liquid food products, such as bottled sodas or pasta sauces. Ultrasonic sensors can identify the presence of solid objects like glass within these liquids.

Electromagnetic Induction Systems

Electromagnetic induction systems are an alternative to metal detectors that rely on induction. These systems don’t detect glass on their own, but some systems pair electromagnetic induction technology with x-ray technology to detect a range of physical contaminants.

What Types of Foods Are Most Susceptible to Glass Contamination?

woman choosing jarred food in market

Glass can find its way into virtually any food product, but products that use glass packaging are more likely to experience contamination.

Jarred or Canned Foods

Canned and bottled goods that use glass packaging are susceptible to glass contamination because glass is present in the manufacturing process.

Bottled Beverages

Bottled beverages like sodas and juices are also more likely to experience glass contamination due to their glass packaging.

Foods With Glass Packaging

Eco-conscious manufacturers have begun swapping plastic packaging for glass to reduce their environmental impact. Today, products like jam, honey, soups, condiments, and yogurts all come in glass bottles or jars and are susceptible to contamination.

Foods With Glass Additives

The FDA considers glass containers to be “indirect food additives,” as they may come into contact with the food during manufacturing. Any food products manufactured in a facility that uses glass packaging could be susceptible to glass contamination.

How Can Glass Detection Systems Be Effectively Implemented in Food Production?

Using the right technology for glass detection in food production mitigates the risk of contamination. You must do your due diligence to select and implement a detection system that promises reliable detection for your business.

Select Suitable Equipment

Start by researching the right equipment for your type of food products. For example, if you produce mainly liquids like beverages and soups, an ultrasonic detection system may perform best. Talk to detection equipment manufacturers for personalized assistance.

Integrate Into the Production Line

bottled juice in the end of production line

After receiving your chosen equipment, strategically integrate it into your production line. Most manufacturers place detection equipment near the end of the production line to catch contaminants that enter at any stage of manufacturing.

Calibration and Testing

High-quality equipment for glass detection in food production lets you calibrate and customize the detection to your specific food products. You can “teach” the equipment to recognize glass contaminants while preventing false alarms.

Operator Training

Adequately training the employees who will be operating the equipment also improves its reliability.

Implement Quality Control Procedures

Following a designated step-by-step process for detecting physical contaminants in food products helps you improve your quality control and eliminate contamination.

Factors Influencing Glass Detection Accuracy

Several factors can impact the accuracy of glass detection in food production.

Size and Shape of Glass Fragments

Some detection equipment is better at identifying minuscule shards of glass than others. The tiniest pieces of glass may not be detectable through ultrasonic or x-ray technology, for example.

Composition of Food Products

X-ray equipment examines the density of an object to look for discrepancies. So if your food products have the same density as the glass you use in manufacturing, an x-ray may not be able to detect the presence of glass.

Similarly, ultrasonic technology won’t work for high-density foods and performs best with liquids.

Production Line Speed and Throughput

Your detection equipment should have plenty of time to examine each food product and look for contaminants. If your assembly line moves too quickly, the glass inspection system may be inaccurate.

Environmental Conditions in the Production Facility

The presence of environmental contaminants like dust and debris could disrupt x-ray and optical sorting technology.

Risks Associated With Glass Contamination

Your food manufacturing company must avoid glass contamination for several serious reasons.

Health Hazards to Consumers

Ingesting even a small amount of glass can be highly damaging to one’s digestive system. Customers can become very sick when they eat food products that contain glass shards.

Potential Legal and Financial Repercussions for Food Manufacturers

If you unknowingly distribute food products that contain glass, your company could face product liability lawsuits and have to pay out damages to the victim.

Damage to Brand Reputation

Of course, if word gets out that your food products contain glass, you’ll face a serious blow to your brand reputation.

Prevent Glass Contamination With TDI Packsys

At TDI Packsys, we’re committed to helping your business avoid glass contamination through high-end, reliable technology. Our automated x-ray system leverages extreme sensitivity and exceptional performance to detect even minuscule glass shards in your products, along with a wide variety of other physical contaminants.

Reach out today at 877-834-6750 to learn more about our systems for glass detection in food production.

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