Processed Food Inspection
As processed foods continue to become more convenient and affordable, they play an increasingly significant role in our food supply. Consumers have become more convenience-driven in their food product selections. However, with the added convenience of processed food comes more opportunities for contamination by foreign materials.
The term “processed food” refers to any food that goes through processing, which is a series of mechanical or chemical processes done to alter or preserve the food. Items that fall into the category of processed foods are usually packaged in a box or a bag and contain more than one item on the list of ingredients. For preservation, they generally have additives or require special handling like refrigeration that will increase the shelf life of the food.
Foods go through varying levels of processing, and those that require more processing have a greater risk of contamination by foreign materials. Essentially, the more steps there are in the process, and the more ingredients that are added, the more the product is at risk for having some sort of physical hazard.
At each step, there’s a possibility for foreign materials to find their way into the food.
Why Contamination is a Major Problem in Food Processing
Every type of food processed in a facility has some risk of contamination. Frozen vegetables, for example, could be contaminated with stones from the field in which they were harvested or from the equipment used to separate and package them. A heavily processed food item with many ingredients such as a frozen pizza or frozen meal has more opportunities for contamination because more steps and ingredients are required for preparation. At each step, there’s a possibility for foreign materials to find their way into the food. And, as food moves through the production line, the number of potential physical hazards increases.
For example, the machinery used to process the food can break, rub, chip, or wear— which potentially leads to pieces of equipment accidentally being introduced into the product.
A few examples of these types of contaminants are:
- Rubber gaskets / seals
- Metal from loose pieces of equipment such as nut and bolts
- Plastic pieces from broken food scrapers, mixers or conveyors
- Pieces of blades broken during the grinding or blending process
In some cases, the items put into place to help minimize the risk of foreign material contamination can actually contribute to the problem. If a routine internal inspection fails to notice worn parts on screens or filters and those parts break, they can end up in the food.
The type of objects most likely to cause contamination will vary from one food processing company to the next, so it’s important that each operation evaluates what ingredients or products are coming into the facility, how the product is processed and what potential threats might exist to allow contaminants into that process.
Processed foods depend upon proper inspection to detect materials that could lead to, at best, bad publicity for food processing companies and, at worst, injury or even death to consumers. If you work with processed food, you can’t afford to not have a plan in place for preventing, detecting and eliminating contaminants in your product.
The Best Foreign Material Contamination Solution in the Industry
With our advanced, medical-grade machines and USDA- and FDA-certified facilities, we can detect foreign contaminants down to 0.8mm and smaller, finding what inline detection machines aren’t calibrated to find. Our advanced inspection solutions keep you on schedule and budget.
We can inspect all types of processed foods, including the following:
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Potato chips, crackers, pretzels and snacks
- Frozen and microwavable meals
- Breakfast foods including cereals, oatmeal, breakfast bars, breakfast sandwiches, toaster pastries and beyond
- Frozen protein goods including burger patties, chicken breasts and veggie burgers
- Frozen pies and pastries
- Ice cream, dairy dips, cheese and yogurt
- Protein bars, granola bars and candy bars
- Burritos and chimichangas
Any time you suspect you have a contamination issue with your processed food, we offer inspection services that can be performed quickly at any of our three locations throughout the U.S. We also offer single camera X-ray machines and metal detectors for rent if you want to inspect your product on your own at your facility.
If you suspect that you have a problem with your processed food product, FlexXray is here to help. Our efficient, streamlined process saves you money, product, time and bad publicity.
With the highest concern for your customers and the most advanced food X-ray inspection technology available, FlexXray exceeds all safety standards—and your expectations.