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Frequently Asked Questions

At LOMA we like to be as helpful as we possibly can.This FAQ section is designed to help provide quick answers to the common questions asked.  Cant find the answer you are looking for?  Please contact us HERE for any other enquiries.

General FAQ's

When cleaning inspection equipment in food factories, there is no one set cleaning regime to follow. A high-care versus low-care area of a factory will have very different needs as high-care is often wet or dusty, with greater bacterial risk, whereas a low-care area is likely to require less work to keep it clean as a lower bacterial risk.

To establish and complete the most suitable cleaning regime for your inspection equipment, particularly for high-care production areas, specialist cleaning companies are available to provide professional guidance. Such experts are critical in advising how best to manage bacterial risks, and with bugs often becoming resilient to cleaning chemicals, they will often recommend rotating different chemicals to help in preventing contamination.

 

Basic cleaning advice

In addition to getting expert advice, there are some basic “must-follow” steps when cleaning your inspection equipment:

Read Instructions
Always follow the cleaning chemical manufacturer’s instructions.

Concentration Levels
Do not exceed the cleaning chemical manufacturer’s stipulated cleaning chemical concentration levels, as an incorrect ratio might damage the equipment.

Contact Time
Never exceed the time you leave cleaning product in contact with the inspection equipment, as it might be detrimental to the cleaning results, plus harmful to the equipment.

Rinsing
The equipment requires a through rinsing with cold water to remove all cleaning products. There are 5-stages of rinsing: pre-rinse, a detergent rise, rinse, disinfectant rinse, final rinse.

Drying
Where possible, dry the equipment prior to recommencing production as prevents the long-term pooling of water that could present a corrosion risk.

Swab
Before recommencing production, it is recommended doing a swab test to ensure the required level of hygiene is maintained and is confirmed as bacteria free.

Contamination can happen at any point in the production process including at source.  Critical Control Points (CCP) are put in place to prevent any potential issues from leaving the factory to help protect the consumer. Hygiene also provides a vital role in eliminating bacterial contamination.

Examples of physical contamination include; production line failure such as broken processing machinery, stones picked up at source in farming of the products or raw materials, bones within a product such as chicken or fish etc.

A contaminant is either physical or bacterial and can happen at any stage of the production process. Examples of physical contamination include;

  • All Metals from other machine failure in the line
  • Stones
  • Bones
  • Glass
  • Incects
  • Wood
  • Plastics 

Short answer

HACCP is a systematic approach to the identification, evaluation, and control of food safety hazards based on the following seven principles:

Principle 1: Conduct a hazard analysis.
Principle 2: Determine the critical control points (CCPs).
Principle 3: Establish critical limits.
Principle 4: Establish monitoring procedures.
Principle 5: Establish corrective actions.
Principle 6: Establish verification procedures.
Principle 7: Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures.

Slightly longer answer

HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product. For successful implementation of a HACCP plan, management must be strongly committed to the HACCP concept. A firm commitment to HACCP by top management provides company employees with a sense of the importance of producing safe food.

HACCP is designed for use in all segments of the food industry from growing, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, distributing, and merchandising to preparing food for consumption. Prerequisite programs such as current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) are an essential foundation for the development and implementation of successful HACCP plans. Food safety systems based on the HACCP principles have been successfully applied in food processing plants, retail food stores, and food service operations. The seven principles of HACCP have been universally accepted by government agencies, trade associations and the food industry around the world.

Taken from the UK Food Standards Agency and the US department of Health and Human services website.

An X-ray system will offer the similar levels as a metal detector when it comes to ferrous and non-ferrous contaminants, but it will far excel with stainless steel, foil packaging and metallised film Detection. X-ray systems also offer the ability to detect bone, glass, ceramic or stone and dense plastics whilst also checking for product integrity, making it the complete solution in contaminant detection.

There are many agencies world wide that are responsible for Food safety standards

European Union

The parliament of the European Union (EU) makes regulations in the form of directives, many of which are mandatory and are incorporated into member countries' national legislation. The EU parliament is advised on food safety by the European Food Safety Authority.

United Kingdom

The Food Standards Agency is the government department responsible for food safety In the UK and hygiene across the UK.

United States

The US food system is regulated by federal, state and local officials. The Food and Drug Administration publishes the Food Code, a set of guidelines that help food control authorities regulate the retail and food service industries.As well as the US Food and Drug Administration, several states have their own state programs to test for pesticide residues

LOMA SYSTEMS is a world leading brand in the food, pharmaceutical and packaging industries, offering Metal Detectors, Checkweighers and X-ray inspection systems.

Our reputation is based on consistent quality and advanced technology, the result of a continuous and far-reaching research and development program. Short lead times, modular design and excellent availability of spare parts, coupled with our passion for customer service, allow our customers to:

  • Comply with, and exceed, product safety standards, weight legislation and retailer codes of practice
  • Maximize production up-time
  • Be self-sufficient
  • Minimize lifetime costs

Our headquarters are based in the UK with direct sales and service operations in France, Germany, The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Poland, China, Canada and the US. We work closely with our distributors and OEM’s in over 100 countries worldwide to ensure that all our customers are fully supported.



Metal Detection FAQ's

Ever since LOMA SYSTEMS was founded in 1969, the company has worked very closely with both food manufacturers and retailers to deliver advances in technology. As a result, LOMA has an unrivalled level of experience and expertise, in the practice of effective metal detection within food industry production lines.

Our latest introduction of the IQ4 series of Metal Detectors is the result bringing together the combined experience of LOMA, LOCK Inspection, CINTEX and BRAPENTA, and nearly 50 years of customer-back innovation. LOMA’s engineering teams have employed our Designed to Survive philosophy to deliver great metal detection sensitivity in a package that is easy to install; easy to use; easy to clean and maintain; can withstand the arduous food production environments; and ultimately brings a brilliant cost of ownership.


Metal detection and X-ray inspection offer different capabilities – to assess which you should choose, you should carry out a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points audit. If the audit determines that metal is likely to be the only contaminant found, then a metal detector is likely to be the most cost-effective solution, however, if other issues such as packaging and product effect are raised by the audit then it is recommended you perform a full product test to establish the most suitable technology.

If, the audit determines that metal and other contaminants such as glass, mineral stone, calcified bone or high-density plastics and rubber are likely to be encountered, then X-ray is the only suitable solution. In many cases, there’s only one suitable solution. However, there may be occasions when it could be helpful to install both metal detection and X-ray inspection systems on the same production line.

LOMA are unable to state that metal detectors are safe for someone fitted with a heart pace-maker or any other kind of electronic implant, as we have no knowledge of heart pace-makers or other types of implant nor the particular limits that the individual person is fitted with.

However, we can confirm that our equipment meets all relevant safety standards, and the magnetic field strengths emitted into the environment by our equipment are at no higher a level than other electrical machinery that would be encountered in a factory environment. - i.e. if the person is permitted to work near electrical machinery then our equipment will not pose a risk.

We would clearly not recommend passing any person’s body through a metal detector.



X-ray Inspection FAQ's

Yes X-ray inspection systems are perfectly safe if you follow the intended use. The X5 X-ray series feature radiation protection to ensure that emissions are kept below 1 μSv/hour during operation. By their very nature, X-ray systems used for food inspection are safe and emissions are significantly less than many naturally occurring radiation sources such as medical X-rays, Radon gas, Gamma decay in rocks, cosmic rays and even the Sun. The world’s average “background” rate of radiation is around 2.7 mSv/yr. Working a 40 hour week for 48 weeks per year next to a LOMA X-Ray system equates to 0.78mSv/yr less. A transatlantic flight for 8 hours provides a much higher dose of radiation than a Loma X-ray inspection system. You can read more information about are X-rays safe for food production here.

As with any food inspection system, it depends on the application, where you want to inspect within the production process, the size of your product and what foreign contaminants you are looking to detect. Loma’s X5 X-ray systems are available for a wide range of applications including bulk, packaged, loose and pumped products, for different industries. As an example: If you are looking at a solution within primary processing making sausages, to try and get the best detection of contaminants (such as bone), and to remove waste before it goes through other costly processes, it would be worth considering an X5 Pipeline to be used near the beginning of the process.

When installing an X-ray inspection system into a factory for the first time there are varying requirements depending on your location, but one of our representatives can talk you through the easy processes. For the relevant information in your area please contact your local Loma office or distributor. Below is an example based on the United Kingdom.

  • Your X-ray system will need to be registered with the Local Health and Safety Executive prior to use.  (Details on your local health and safety executive can be found here)
  • You will need to consult and appoint a Radiation Protection Adviser (RPA) prior to turning the machine on. Organisations who offer this service in the UK include Radman Associates or Public
  • Health England (PHE).  
  • Your RPA will work with you to do the following:
  • Draw up your local rules (what you can and can’t do onsite relating to your application and equipment)
  • Complete a Risk Assessment
  • Train your appointed Radiation Protection Supervisors RPS (An RPS must be present at all times whilst the X-rays are running)
  • This process will take around 28 days, depending on the availability of your chosen RPA.  Once the system is up and running, you are required to carry out radiation tests at regular intervals outlined by your RPA.

Just like metal detection, there are two types of calibration associated with X-ray systems. Firstly in order to maintain designated Codes of Practice or HACCP protocols, X-ray systems should be calibrated once a year to normalize the detector and make sure the system is working correctly. Secondly an X-ray system will need to be calibrated for every new product so that the system can ‘learn the product’ and set up limits to achieve the best contaminant detection size possible. Once a product has been learnt once, it can then be recalled at the click of a button with no need to relearn unless there is a change in the product or if an error occurs.

Although both X-ray inspection and metal detection are used to check for contaminants within food and pharmaceutical products, the technologies have different capabilities and advantages. Each technology will be important for different reasons depending on the application and situation. Metal detectors are principally used when only detection of metal contaminants is required, which is why they tend to be the cheaper option and as technology has moved on over the years the contaminant sizes that can be achieved are very good. Alternatively X-ray inspection systems offer the ability to not only detect for all metals, but also other contaminants such as bone, ceramic, glass and dense plastics. X-ray inspection is also capable of checking the product integrity – making sure the product is complete and free of defects. It is also worth noting X-ray inspection systems can typically reliably see smaller contaminants in harder to inspect products compared with a metal detector.

Yes, Loma’s X-ray systems have been designed to be easy to use to allow anyone with good health to operate the machine following basic training received when the system is first commissioned. It is recommended that pregnant women should NOT work in an area where an X-ray system is in operation. Just like metal detection, in order to have a deeper understanding of the system and its full capabilities pre-designed training courses are available at all levels including engineer and Subject Matter Experts (SME). It is worth noting that a Radiation Protection Supervisor (RPS) is always required to be present within your factory when the X-rays are running – for more details please see the question below.

X-ray is very versatile at finding different contaminants, but with plastic it depends on its characteristic and the type of product you are trying to inspect it within. The orientation of the plastic within the product impacts the ease of detection, for example if the plastic contaminant is in a horizontal orientation it will absorb fewer X-rays due to its density (thickness) and will not be detected. As a rule of thumb, if it floats, an X-ray system will not be able to detect that contaminant. This is the same for most makes and models of X-ray Inspection systems used within food production.

Yes, Loma’s X-ray inspection systems come with software built in, called X-weigh, which converts product density into weight which is great for certain applications such as yogurts and ready meals. For example if you are weighing a product that has two compartments a checkweigher will check the total weight, where a X-weigh will check each compartment separately providing both an individual and overall weight. This will let you know if there is too much of one component, which could be caused by an issue with a portioning machine, resulting in an inferior product. X-weigh does not conform with weights and measures so a checkweigher would be required to do the total overall weight check.

Stainless steel has a specific gravity of 7.7

Ferrous materials have a specific gravity of around 8.0

Non Ferrous (Brass or copper) materials have a specific gravity of around 8.8

From a Metal Detector point of view Ferrous, Non Ferrous and Stainless Steel have become standard test materials because of the different response they develop in a Metal Detector. Conversely, detectability of materials in X-ray systems are proportional to the specific gravity increase relative to the product; as can be seen all three materials are very close in density. Since Stainless Steel is both the lowest density of the above three materials and the most abundant in factories, it is generally accepted that this is the one test piece worthwhile testing. However, it is always a responsibility for any producer using a CCP to ensure that likely contaminants have been identified via HACCP risk assessment, so this should be additionally considered when selecting the contaminants used to challenge the CCP. Additionally, any specific customer requirements or supermarket specifications should be considered.

Note: Specific Gravity is defined as density normalised to water @ 1.0


LOMA's image processing software is designed to adapt to differences in product density, while maximizing sensitivity. This overcomes the problems associated with conventional systems.

X-ray inspection systems can detect more contaminants than Metal Detection systems, however there are a few limitations including:

  • Low-density plastics
  • Thin glass, such as fluorescent tubes
  • Low-density stones
  • Insects
  • Wood
  • Hair
  • Cardboard
  • Paper
All LOMA machines comply with national emission and safety regulations. When the machine is first installed a documented examination takes place. However, for peace of mind, a periodic examination is advised. As this is a relatively simple process it can be done each day without the need to stop the production line.
No, All of our systems meet the safety ratings of less than 1 µSv/h.
LOMA X-ray inspection systems are designed to operate continuously at speeds in excess of 600ppm or 90m/min (300ft/min).
Early X-Ray systems had reliability problems and were expensive. However, the involvement of mainstream inspection specialists like LOMA ensures that new-generation x-ray systems are as robust and reliable as conventional metal detectors with and excellent ROI.
In terms of contaminant detection, X-ray systems will detect lower levels of contaminants. They can also detect a wide range of non-metallic contaminants including ceramic, bone, glass, stone and dens plastics. X-Ray Inspection systems can also check for product intermarry to see missing or damaged products.
No, LOMA X-ray Inspection systems are designed to be as easy to use as a Metal Detector.  Training is provided upon commissioning and additional onsite training can be arranged if required. (Please click here for more details)
No, the dosage a food product can be subjected to is governed by controls. LOMA X-ray inspection systems operate at around one millionth of the current limit.
Loma’s range of X-ray inspection systems are easy to use with intuitive full colour touchscreens and icon-driven menus as well as offering fast inspection and product set up, automatically optimising the systems for each product type allowing you to learn and switch within minutes.

X-ray systems also offer the ability to detect bone, glass, ceramic or stone and dense plastics whilst also checking for product integrity, making it the complete solution in contaminant detection.

Metal detection and X-ray inspection offer different capabilities – to assess which you should choose, you should carry out a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points audit. If the audit determines that metal is likely to be the only contaminant found, then a metal detector is likely to be the most cost-effective solution, however, if other issues such as packaging and product effect are raised by the audit then it is recommended you perform a full product test to establish the most suitable technology.

If, the audit determines that metal and other contaminants such as glass, mineral stone, calcified bone or high-density plastics and rubber are likely to be encountered, then X-ray is the only suitable solution. In many cases, there’s only one suitable solution. However, there may be occasions when it could be helpful to install both metal detection and X-ray inspection systems on the same production line.


Checkweigher FAQ's

An accurate Checkweigher will ensure less waste and enable more products to be produced from the same amount of inventory. Raw materials can be very expensive, and a checkweigher will ensure that you make the most of existing resources.

Example

Reducing the overfill of a 450-gram pack by one gram, on a line producing 200 packs per minute running 16 hours a day for 230 days a year, would result in you saving enough raw materials to make an additional 98133 products.