Metal Detection


  1. The Role of Metal Detection in Safe Food Production
  2. GFSI Requirements for Metal Detection
  3. Sources of Metal Contamination
  4. Elements of Metal Detector Systems
  5. Metal Detector Types
  6. Other System Requirements
  7. Factors Effecting Metal Detection

1. The Role of Metal Detection in Safe Food Production

Metal contamination of food products is a fact of food manufacturing life. Even with the most robust metal detection controls, metal contamination of food still occurs. As is the case with many aspects of food safety our objective is the reduction of metal hazards to an acceptable level where total elimination is not possible.

If we take a look at modern food manufacturing processes we see that many unit operations involve the use of metal materials such as cutting, slicing, crushing, sieving, mixing, pumping and packing. Beyond this, metal is the standard fabrication material used in machinery, utensils and handling equipment. Add to this the potential risk of contamination of ingredients purchased from suppliers we can see that metal contamination presents a significant challenge for food safety.

Over the years, food standards and large retailers have developed requirements which demand food businesses to adopt a series of controls to reduce the risk of metal contamination. The approach suggests that reliance on one single measure is inadequate to address the risk and by implementing multiple measures of control and detection the food company can offer the consumer the best level of protection. These controls typically take the form of inspection, checking, detection systems and removal of potential metal hazards.

Of these, detection systems have become an almost standard requirement for the majority of food businesses particularly those operating under global food certification schemes or supplying food retailers. Other motivations for conducting metal detection include reduction in customer complaints, improved consumer protection, protection of business and brands and improved compliance.
While metal detection involves the application of specific technologies to detect and reject/remove metal contamination, it is not an absolute method and it is subject to variation in effectiveness and sensitivity. In this regard, best practice and proper management of the metal detection system is vital to ensure maximum protection is achieved. Companies should seek the advice of expert suppliers of the technology in achieving this.