Is a Metal Detection System Required for Food Processing?

In the UK, it is not explicitly required by law to have a metal detection system in food processing industries. However, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) and other regulatory bodies indirectly make metal detection a necessity in many cases.

If you run a food processing business, you must ensure that food is safe for consumption and free from physical contaminants and one effective way to prevent metal contamination is by using food metal detection systems.

Why is Metal Detection Important?

Protecting Consumer Safety

The safety of consumers should always be the top priority. Even a tiny metal fragment can cause injuries or health problems. 

Reducing Product Recalls and Liability

Recalls are not only expensive but also damage a brand’s reputation. For example in 2023, the supermarket chain Tesco recalled several of its pastry products over fears they may contain pieces of metal and plastic.

Metal detection systems minimise this risk by ensuring only safe, contaminant free products reach store shelves.

What Types of Metal Contaminants Can be Detected?

Although we’d like to believe the food we eat is perfectly clean, traces of metal can find its way into food during processing, where the use of heavy machinery and handling equipment are used for sorting, packaging and moving products. But what types of metal are there?

  • Ferrous Metals: Include iron and steel, which are magnetic and easily detected.
  • Non-Ferrous Metals: Like copper, aluminium, and brass are non-magnetic but conduct electricity, making them detectable.
  • Stainless Steel: Often challenging to detect due to its weak magnetic properties and varying conductivity, but modern systems are designed to identify them efficiently.

How Do Metal Detectors Work? – The Science Behind Detection

Conveyor System

In food processing, metal detectors are typically integrated into conveyor systems that transport products through the detection field. This allows for continuous scanning without slowing down production.

Rejection Mechanisms

When metal contamination is detected, a rejection mechanism removes the compromised product from the line. These can include:

  • Air Blast: A jet of air blows contaminated products off the conveyor belt.
  • Pusher Arm: Physically pushes the product to a separate rejection bin.
  • Drop-Flap: A hatch opens briefly to drop contaminated products off the conveyor.

Sensitivity Settings

Food metal detectors can be configured for varying sensitivity levels based on the product type, size, and production line speed. Higher sensitivity is crucial for identifying smaller contaminants, but it can also increase the risk of false positives. Striking the right balance ensures food safety without unnecessary product waste.

How can Driver Southall Help?

We’ve supplied many food metal detection systems over the years to help companies keep their food safe for consumption and free from physical contaminants. Our metal detectors are designed with advanced technology to detect even the smallest contaminants while seamlessly integrating into your production line.

To make an enquiry or for any further information – please get in touch with our team of experts on 01543 687090.