Understanding the inspection challenges with protein applications
Protein applications range from raw to prepared products and vary in size, packaging, temperatures, and format, making it harder for contaminants to not go undetected. Loma have spent the last 50 years developing solutions to help solve these challenges making sure product inspection within the meat, poultry, fish, and non-meat based protein applications meet the expectations of the user, whilst being easier for the manufacturer to handle.
Wide variety in sources of contamination
With traditional protein products such as meat and fish, often the most common contaminants are metal and bones. The newer market of plant-based foods also present a contamination risk, as being highly processed can introduce a risk of foreign object contamination from the equipment at each step. Whatever the protein, contamination sources include the following:
- Failed processing machinery (i.e. bolts, screws, washers).
- Blade fragments from grinders, mincers, mixers, etc. damaged during processing.
- Needles from enhancing products.
- Bone fragments.
- Materials introduced (i.e. chub clips).
- Stones, metals, and glass from harvesting.
Protein products can be difficult to inspect
Certain product characteristics can make protein foods tricky to inspect, but the right inspection equipment can handle this and overcome the common challenges:
- Wet products make it harder for a metal detector to detect between a product and metal contaminant.
- High salt or high iron content can saturate the metal detector head, producing a false reading.
- Wet and slimy – can make product difficult to handle.
- Variation in shape, size and condition means the equipment needs to continuously manage variation to ensure a contaminant never gets missed.
Packaging types present their own challenges
Manufacturers use various options to package their products to keep them fresh and appeal to consumers, but the materials used can impact metal and foreign body detection. For example:
- Foil trays and metallized packaging present challenges for metal detection. Generally speaking, metalized packaging is not always compatible with conventional metal detectors and so it is unlikely to meet retailer requirements.
- For inspecting foods in metalized packaging, an X-Ray system is the perfect solution. Not only are X-Ray systems ideal for handling metallized packaging, but they also have the ability to detect other contaminants like bone, stone and glass, plus check the integrity of the product being inspected.
Hygiene and robustness are critical
By the nature of proteins, equipment handling such products demand the following characteristics when it comes to cleaning:
- Exceptional robustness: Equipment must be tough enough to withstand frequent harsh washdown cycles with high pressure and chemicals and in wet areas, including CIP and SIP where applicable.
- Hygienic design for optimal cleaning, removal of food debris and prevention of parasites and bacterial harbouring – particularly to prevent cross contamination of good product.
The right equipment for your inspection need
To inspect protein products for metal contaminants and weigh products accurately, the Loma RUN-WET® series is IP69 rated and hygienically designed following some of the key EHEDG principles offering the best cleaning standards to withstand harsh high-pressure and high-temperature cleaning regimes, and quicker cleaning as no drying time needed. Therefore, production capacity is maximized and ultimately enhances profit.
If you need to inspect for bone, glass, stone and dense plastics within food products, as well as having the ability to detect metal contaminants, then X-Ray inspection should be considered for your needs.
To discuss your inspection needs, please contact our expert team.