What’s Worse Than Finding a Worm in Your Apple? METAL

food grade metal detector

We’ve all heard the old joke, “What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Half a worm”. It wouldn’t be so funny if it wasn’t so true, but what could be as bad as half a worm? Try half a tooth, which is just what might happen to an unsuspecting victim if they were to accidentally chomp down on a piece of metal embedded in their food.

While it might sound alarmist to be thinking about somebody losing a tooth to a seemingly innocent ice cream bar or what have you, metal is the most commonly found contaminant in food products. This isn’t actually all that surprising given that many food processing equipment parts are made of metal, from chopping blades to forklifts and everything else in between. Metal is present at every step of the food production process, which is why it is so important for food manufacturers to make use of industrial metal detectors when it comes to ensuring that their products are safe to be imported and exported for human consumption.

With more than half of today’s busy consumers choosing to purchase fresh produce that has been pre-cut, washed and packaged for convenience, the need for high quality food grade metal detectors is no longer limited to manufacturers of traditional processed foods like TV dinners. Everything from locally bagged salads to strawberries imported from California is just as at risk of containing metal contaminants as a can of stew.

Here are a few important preventative measures manufacturers must take throughout the food production process in order to minimize the risks of an unsuspecting customer ending up with a mouthful of metal…


Food grade metal detectors

Naturally one of the most important ways of ensuring the quality of processed food is by investing in industrial metal detectors. These are not the hokey-pokey contraptions people use at the local beach. Metal detectors for food industry use are serious tools designed for ensuring the safety of consumers all around the world.

There are two main kinds of metal detectors: ‘balanced coil’ systems and ‘ferrous-in-foil’ systems. The first kind are for general-purpose use, able to detect stainless steel, as well as a range of ferrous and non-ferrous metals in food products. These can be fresh or frozen, whether they or wrapped or not. The second kind are specifically made for detecting ferrous metal contaminants found in fresh or frozen products wrapped in foil. All metal detectors should be inspected by the equipment manufacturing company yearly at the very least, whose representatives should issue an annual certification confirming a successful inspection.


Configuration types

Because food products come in many different shapes and forms, food grade metal detectors are available in different models and configurations to suit different processing needs. For instance, liquid or paste-like products do not share the same requirements as bulk packages of ground coffee or a pack of frozen mashed potatoes.

Conveyor-type configurations are the most commonly found in the food manufacturing industry. The metal detector is attached to a conveyor system operating at a fixed or a variable speed. Free-fall configurations are often used for products like flour or coffee beans, allowing the product to move down the metal detector by force of gravity. Pipeline configurations are good for paste-like products such as sausage fillings, which are pumped through one end of the system and out the other.


Educate employees

While investing in reputable high-tech equipment is always a means to preventing metal contamination, educating employees in contamination prevention is another important step that must be implemented in the production process. All employees dealing with the metal detection equipment certainly need to be appropriately trained in all technical matters. However, even employees such as maintenance staff should be well-versed in preventing contamination in other ways. Either way, all staff should know how to spot potential problem sources, such as a broken blade, and they should know how to report and document such matters immediately in an appropriate manner.

Even scheduling can play a role in contamination prevention. Companies should endeavour to schedule maintenance work to be done outside of production hours. This prevents food products from being contaminated with debris from soldering or other maintenance works. All tools need to be carried in closed, labelled containers, even during the cleaning process. That way, tools like nuts and bolts and washers don’t “mysteriously” end up in tomorrow’s bread shipment. Ensure that maintenance staff vacuum the factory clean instead of using compressed air, which can send tiny debris flying in all directions. If possible, workshops should be located outside of the factory.



The food manufacturing industry has become an increasingly global affair in the past few decades. Companies must nevertheless continue to ensure the quality of all food imports and exports, especially as things like metal contamination can now impact such a large range of communities and consumers. By educating employees in contamination prevention and by making use of the appropriate metal detecting equipment, manufacturers should not fear their name going viral because somebody bit down on a bolt. There is nothing to lose by keeping consumer and employee safety at the forefront of the production process!

I'm the editorial writer for DroidHorizon. You'll find my content varies in the technology, science, & lifestyle categories.

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