A single metal bit can take a significant bite out of your company’s profits. For example in 2015, Kraft recalled nearly a quarter of a million cases of Mac and Cheese after metal shards were discovered in some boxes.
Also in 2015, Unibright Foods recalled nearly 50,000 pounds of prepared meat products after discovering “extraneous metal materials,” and Kellogg recalled 2.8 million boxes of Bite Size Frosted and Unfrosted Mini-Wheats “due to the possible presence of fragments of flexible metal mesh from a faulty manufacturing part.” Each of these unfortunate incidences highlight the importance of installing a quality food metal detector on your production line.
Where’s the metal?
Metal is one of the most common contaminants in food products. As reported by website Socialnomics, “Metal fragments can come from a variety of sources, from bits of farm tools that break while food is being harvested, to parts of robotic systems that break during processing.”
To make matters worse, as food continues to be processed, relatively large and easy-to-find pieces of metal are broken down into smaller pieces that can go unnoticed right up until a consumer breaks their tooth on some peanut butter. Finding those fragments is the job of a food metal detector.
As you may expect, there’s a great range of quality and dependability in metal detectors. If your equipment breaks down your entire line could be shut down, so you need machines that are durable. If just one fragment escapes you could be looking at a court date, so you need your machines to be precise.
Some machines require training to operate, others are simpler to use and may have intuitive LCD and touch screen interfaces. One food metal detector may be faster, or easier to clean, or be specifically designed for a particular product. You’ll want to look for quality equipment you can depend on, and is also designed for your production needs.
Coming or going?
One question some food manufacturers ask is whether they should put a food metal detector at the beginning or the end of their line. This is a trick question. Finding metal early is important to avoid spreading smaller pieces. However, food can be contaminated during the production cycle, too. That’s why most experts agree that placing a quality food metal detector at the beginning AND end of the production line will provide the best protection.
Choosing the best food metal detector
More and more food developers are recognizing the importance of a food metal detector, and as a result, the market is growing quickly. According to Persistence Market Research, the U.S. industrial metal detector market is expected to reach nearly a billion dollars over the next ten years (and estimated to reach $1.6 billion globally by 2022). As the market grows, so do the machine options and features.
If your food moves along a conveyor belt, you can choose conveyorized metal detectors, with safety valves and guarded out-feed and in-feed rollers to prevent risk of finger traps. You can opt for a food metal detector designed for free-fall or gravity system environments, flow-through detectors for pipeline/pumped liquids and sauces, you can purchase machines designed specifically for tablets and other pharmaceutical products, or even choose a food metal detector created for “concrete biscuits” produced by commercial bakers.
At TDI we offer metal detectors for virtually any need including meat and sausage products, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and spices and sugar. A food metal detector can reveal ferrous metals (such as cast iron and mild steel), non-ferrous metals (like copper, lead and aluminum) and stainless steel. It can often work seamlessly with x-ray systems to find metal, glass, stones and bone fragments. And, it can come in a variety of sizes to accommodate facilities with limited floor space. Our experts can help you find the perfect, quality food metal detector for your unique production needs.