Commissaries, central kitchens and intermediate wholesale bakeries have long fought the detection battle. Identifying hazards, implementing processes and ensuring corrective actions are taken isn’t just good business practice, it’s now a FSMA Preventative Controls rule. 

Food safety is at the top of everyone’s mind: the producer, the consumer and the government.

“In commercial baking operations where bread is being prepared for baking at local stores, or being baked, Mettler Toledo specialists have found an increase in not only inspecting products for potential contaminants such as metals, but also an increase in the degree of those inspections,” says Camilo Sanchez, metal detector product manager for Mettler Toledo. “Food safety has become a significant concern.”

With the increased emphasis on food safety, many facilities are increasing their detection capabilities. Sanchez notes a large national restaurant chain that prepares loaves of bread in 50 of its own central bakeries for finished baking in its locations. 

“In recent years the company installed approximately 60 Mettler Toledo metal detectors in those bakeries to inspect for metal contaminants,” Sanchez says. “Originally these were basic model detectors, but more recently the company has begun replacing those detectors with Mettler Toledo’s Profile Advantage metal detectors, the most sensitive equipment.”

The Profile Advantage, according to the company, incorporates a “revolutionary breakthrough” in metal detection sensitivity. A multi-simultaneous frequency technology helps deliver sensitivity that maximizes detection and can ensure end-user brand protection.

“This equipment features multiple frequency detection, which enables the systems to detect metal even in warm and moist bread, where the bread’s increased conductivity can defeat typical metal detectors,” says Sanchez.

Multi-simultaneous frequency technology analyzes product signal data captured across a wide spectrum of frequencies simultaneously. This is processed by the company’s 3S software algorithm in real time, which results in a 30 to 50 percent higher sensitivity than competing technologies, Mettler Toledo says.

In addition, Product Signal Suppression technology virtually eliminates the incidence of false triggering by suppressing the active and unwanted product signals often produced by what the company calls the “Product Effect” –– signals produced by the products themselves, particularly high-moisture products and products that change temperature during the production cycle. The benefits to the user are lower running costs and a dramatic reduction in product waste.

Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Sentinel MultiScan metal detector scans up to five user-selectable frequencies at a time, providing what the company says is unmatched sensitivity and the highest probability of finding ferrous, non-ferrous and stainless-steel metal contaminants. 

According to Bob Ries, lead product manager of x-ray inspection and metal detection for Thermo Fisher, limitations in conventional metal detection are typically the result of using only one or two frequencies to detect any type, size or shape of metal inside dry or wet products. 

“The latest technological breakthrough, however, has allowed manufacturers to find metal types and sizes previously undetectable, bringing more predictability to the process,” he says. “This innovation — multiscan technology — is poised to revolutionize metal detection and food safety, eliminating the need for manufacturers to compromise, and reducing their risk of costly recalls.”

According to Thermo Fisher, when tested over a wide range of products, the multiscan detector typically picked up foreign metal objects that were 49 percent smaller in volume and, in the most extreme case, could even detect metal up to 70 percent smaller in volume.

Sanchez says another trend Mettler Toledo has observed is that school districts and other education centers that provide lunches have also become more aware of food safety issues. 

“A school district in Texas uses Mettler Toledo’s Profile Advantage to inspect foods from sandwiches to salads for metal contamination before they are distributed,” he says. “Since it already supplies inspection equipment to governmental agencies, Mettler Toledo also has staff in-house trained in completing and managing the complex contracts that government groups often require.”