What Is the Use of X-Rays in the Food Industry?

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different dairy products and meats

When it comes to packing and selling food products, the FDA outlines strict protocols for manufacturers to follow. X-ray technology simplifies food inspection, keeping consumers safe from a wide range of contaminants.

You may wonder, “What is the use of X-rays in the food industry, and should I trust them?”

The experts at TDI Packsys share everything you need to know about this modern and versatile technology. Consider the following information, then contact our company to explore food inspection systems at affordable rates.

What Is the Use of X-Rays in the Food Industry?

Food contamination is a major concern for the government, product manufacturers, and consumers. New laws regulating the production and inspection of food products, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act, emphasize the importance of leveraging technology to reduce the risk of sickness and death due to contamination. These laws also dictate which methods manufacturers should employ for the most comprehensive inspections.

X-ray technology is one such method. While most people associate X-ray systems with the medical industry, they also play a vital role in the food industry.

In an age of mass production, few companies have the workforce necessary to inspect every unit of food that passes on the conveyor belt manually. Physical inspections can also increase the risk of contamination during production. Automated inspection technology eliminates these problems with efficient and sterile procedures.

How Does a Food X-Ray Inspection System Work?

X-rays are invisible beams of electromagnetic radiation. An individual can direct these waves at a targeted object, then convert them to an image on a screen.

Food packers can install X-ray machines in their production lines and scan objects as they pass on a conveyor belt. Computer-assisted packing tools will register any discrepancies in the products and force-reject them from the line if they display signs of contamination.

Manufacturers can also calibrate their X-ray systems to inspect for certain types of contamination. For example, they can input percentage-based, critical control points that target certain areas of the food or packaging.

Different Types of X-Ray Inspection Systems Used in the Food Industry

food worker checking products in production line

Some producers wonder, “What is the use of X-rays in the food industry, and which one should I choose for my facilities?”

Recent advancements in X-ray technology allow companies to pick from numerous models depending on their budgets and operational needs. Two popular X-ray inspection devices are the Dual-Energy X-Ray Inspection System and the XR Standard X-Ray Inspection System from TDI Packsys.

The Dual-Energy X-Ray Inspection System is a best-in-class device that scans protein products according to their chemical-to-content ratio. It also detects organic and inorganic materials in food that may be harmful to humans when ingested, including:

  • Bones
  • Cartilage
  • Glass
  • Minerals
  • Microplastics
  • Rubber

The XR Standard X-Ray Inspection System is practical for nearly every type of food product, whether packaged or unpackaged. It is compact and portable, allowing users to place it anywhere in their facilities. It also records logs that detail production efficiency, contamination percentages per unit, and more.

For bigger inspection and sorting tasks, large-format X-ray systems are best at detecting contamination in crates, seeds, pet foods, etc.

Can X-Ray Inspection Systems Detect All Types of Contaminants?

Some X-ray inspection systems can only detect large, inorganic elements, like rocks or rubber debris. However, most industrial-grade X-rays will detect contaminants of all types and sizes.

What Types of Contaminants Can Be Detected?

Generally, food packers check for the following contaminants to comply with FDA standards:

  • Physical contamination: Physical contaminants include hair, fingernails, pests, and hard objects.
  • Chemical and biological contamination: These hazards typically develop on the interior or exterior of the packaging and may include rust or mold spores.
  • Allergenic contamination: Large packing facilities may inspect food products for accidental cross-contamination of nuts, eggs, or beans that should not be in certain packages. Ignoring these products could cause at-risk consumers to experience serious health complications.

It’s important to understand that certain contaminants, such as bacteria or viruses, may be challenging or impossible to detect with X-rays.

What Are the Benefits of Using X-Rays in the Food Industry?

chicken meat line in food x ray inspection systems

If you ask, “What is the use of X-rays in the food industry?” you may also wonder what benefits this technology provides. Food manufacturers enjoy many perks when using X-ray technology to inspect their products, including the following:

  • Complying with regulations: The FDA can shut down any packing facility it considers a threat to public health. Complying with the FDA’s food inspection guidelines is the most practical way for a manufacturer to stay in business. X-ray technology can ease the burden of the inspection process on workers and provide a paper trail for lawyers and regulators to assess when requested.
  • Building trust with consumers: Beyond complying with the law, manufacturers have an ethical duty to protect consumers from harmful elements in their products. Using and promoting the use of X-rays in a packing facility is an excellent way to show consumers they care.
  • Early recall notices: X-ray technology can help producers identify and pinpoint sources of contamination. This way, they can issue recalls before they cause preventable harm to the public.
  • Quality assurance: X-ray systems help companies monitor product quality during all hours of operation. A noticeable increase in rejected units may indicate a problem on the production line.
  • Cost-saving technology: Modern technology requires little upkeep and can operate for years before replacements are necessary.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Using X-Rays in the Food Industry?

two bags with green plus and red minus sign

Many manufacturers make the mistake of investing in this technology without taking the time to learn how to use it correctly. Some machines have a high learning curve and may require professional guidance. Companies can avoid misuse by asking the manufacturer questions about how to operate and calibrate each device before incorporating it into daily use.

Ignoring this essential responsibility could cost producers time and money. It may also prevent them from detecting major contaminants in products.

X-ray systems can consume quite a bit of power during operation. Therefore, most manufacturers recommend investing in energy-saving policies and infrastructure to offset extra utility expenses after installation.

Apart From Contaminant Detection, Can X-Ray Inspection Help With Portion Control in the Food Industry?

An inspection can help manufacturers sort and pack the appropriate food portions per unit. For example, the GP Bulk-Flow X-Ray Inspection Systems from TDI Packsys can assess every bag of nuts, fruits, seeds, or harvest goods that passes through the production line. It will measure the contents by the ounce and remove any units that appear overstuffed.

Manufacturers can preset inspection conditions for each product. Advanced CPU sensitivity features substantially reduce the risk of errors when scanning portions.

Is X-Ray Inspection Safe for Food Products and Consumers?

Now that you have an answer to the question, “What is the use of X-rays in the food industry?” You may wonder how it affects the consumer.

Many people mistakenly believe that using X-rays to inspect food will cause radiation contamination. However, this technology is very safe. Most users operate machines at low energy levels during inspections, eliminating any cause for concern.

Additionally, the amount of radiation passing through these products is much less than what humans absorb from nature every day.

Most machines produce less than a milliard per screening. It usually takes around 100 rads (one Gray unit) to cause radiation sickness. Therefore, consumers need not worry about long-term radiation exposure from food products on the shelf.

Can X-Ray Inspection Affect the Quality or Taste of Food Products?

employees quality checking the vegetables

X-rays do not affect the taste, texture, or quality of food products after inspection. If anything, a thorough inspection lowers a consumer’s risk of experiencing contaminated food by removing contaminated products before they reach store shelves.

What Are Some Future Trends and Innovations in X-Ray Technology for the Food Industry?

Manufacturers take pride in developing technology that outperforms the competition in speed, accuracy, and customizability. Food industry professionals can expect this technology to continue improving in the coming years and become more accessible.

Additionally, manufacturers understand that these tools can be challenging to operate. Increasingly intuitive features and cross-compatible software programs should become the norm for newer models in the future.

Invest in a Safe and Reliable X-Ray Inspection System From TDI Packsys

Are you ready to streamline your food packing and inspection processes with high-end X-rays and metal detectors? At TDI Packsys, we supply these state-of-the-art tools to thousands of industry professionals like you. Our products are safe, affordable, and easy to use.

Ask us about our rental options if you want to try these products before committing to owning one outright. We will discuss your expectations during a comprehensive consultation and recommend the right system for your needs.

What is the use of X-rays in the food industry? Find out more with TDI Packsys in Vernon Hills, IL. Call 877-834-6750 to explore our inventory.

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