X-RAY FOOD INSPECTION:
Why Third Party
The Best Solution to Foreign Material Contamination
Foreign material contamination happens to even the most prepared plants with the most exacting of QA processes in the food manufacturing industry. A lot of careful work and preparation go into delivering food to consumers, and sometimes, physical contaminants get into the food somewhere along the way. It comes with the territory. No matter the position you hold at a food manufacturing company or facility, you know that foreign material contamination poses a huge risk for your brand and bottom line.
How Manufacturers Eliminate Foreign Material Contamination Before it Happens
As everyone in the food industry knows, we are required by law to produce food that is safe—specifically food free from microbial organisms or other physical contaminants that could result in illness, injury or death to our consumers. We all must align with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for developing safe food, and the best manufacturers abide by these practices:
- Develop a robust Hazard Analysis Critical Control (HACCP) system specific to your facility and equipment.
- Follow the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) signed into law in 2011.
- Abide by Standard Sanitation Operating Procedures (SSOPs).
- Follow the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) requiring protection against the inclusion of metal or extraneous materials in food including using sieves, magnets, traps, electronic metal detectors, or other means.
- Procure unit operations designed to mitigate or remove extraneous material and physical hazards, protecting the product and the equipment from damage.
- Schedule preventative maintenance regularly, ensuring all equipment is clean and running properly.
- Incorporate packaging that is designed to prevent or eliminate tampering, sealing product from extraneous materials.
- Educate employees on proper food handling, the quality assurance system and HACCP plan.
Unfortunately, all of our advanced plans, protocols and procedures are not enough on their own to eliminate this problem in our industry. They are, however, extremely helpful in flagging contaminated product. Manufacturers that have robust plans in place are often able to catch foreign material contamination and put that contaminated product on hold before sending it into distribution. Manufacturers that don’t find foreign material contamination in their product aren’t so lucky. Manufacturers unable to detect foreign material contamination most likely don’t have the processes necessary to find it and risk sending contaminated product into distribution. Often, manufacturers don’t have in-house x-ray food inspection systems in place to resolve a wide range of foreign material problems.
What happens when product goes on hold?
On-hold product is costly. When product is bracketed and put on hold for potential foreign material contamination, manufacturers face limited options for rework. Third-party inspection provides an accurate, cost effective and fast solution through best-in-class x-ray food inspection equipment, but many manufacturers aren’t aware of this option.
The Top 3 Most Common Resolutions for Product Holds Without Third-Party Inspection:
- Disposal: Manufacturers will sometimes simply throw out the product to eliminate the hassle, losing product and profits. They will then be faced with lost time and increased costs to remake that production run.
- Rework: Food manufacturers can attempt to shut down a product line and rework the product internally against the facility’s core competencies. (Food manufacturing companies are set up to make food, not find foreign material contaminants!)
- Distribution: Some food manufacturers decide to ship product out risking recalls, lawsuits and lost brand reputation. This is exceedingly rare, but it does happen and is usually the most costly.
Each of these options isn’t efficient, cost-effective or ideal for food safety. There is a better option: third-party inspection through FlexXray.
Why Third-Party Inspection?
FlexXray’s third-party inspection is an offline service that complements inline inspection capabilities. Third-party isn’t a replacement for inline equipment or processes as those are necessary to meet the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA) regulations and essential to monitoring food. Third-party inspection has different capabilities and different core processes. Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges.
X-ray food inspection machines have become so advanced that they can find dense matter that doesn’t belong.
FlexXray’s third-party x-ray food inspection goes beyond finding contaminants.
At FlexXray, our third-party x-ray inspection systems run at a slower speed and lower power than inline equipment, capable of custom calibrating to find even smaller foreign materials with accuracy and precision.
FlexXray’s third-party inspection offers an extreme level of accuracy, repeatability and efficiency, that helps manufacturers to meet the highest safety standards for their products.
FlexXray’s third-party x-ray food inspection is an extremely cost-effective method in helping food manufacturers save their products, profits and brand reputations. The savings are often significant compared to remaking or reworking internally.
Based on a real client inspection in 2020 from the Meat & Poultry Industry:
After finding metal in their meat products and lacking the inline detection equipment to find metal fragments, a meat and poultry facility sent 3,263 cases of product to FlexXray to get it inspected and saved money.
- Reworking internally would not be able to find metal smaller than 0.3mm.
- Shipping it out as-is could lead to lost brand reputation and an incalculable revenue loss over time.
- Throwing it away would cost approximately $978,900
- FlexXray’s inspection cost amounted to a fraction of the product saved at $51,141
- Of the 3263 Cases inspected, FlexXray returned 3,220 safe cases of product ot the customer, salvaging 98.6%
- The Estimated value of the product inspected and returned equaled approximately $966,000 total.
FlexXray’s third-party inspection helps save time, money and product. Manufacturers can feel confident in the safety of their product with the help of third-party x-ray inspection food companies, often salvaging 98% of their on-hold product.
As technology in the food industry becomes more sophisticated, so will innovations in FlexXray’s food x-ray inspection—and so will the level of food safety. At FlexXray, we pride ourselves on being the most trusted third-party inspection company in North America.