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    Posted by Jojo Furnival on 21 March 2022

    Food Safety

    how safe is x ray inspection of food?

    How Safe Is X-Ray Inspection of Food?

    Ever wondered about the effect of X-Ray on food? ‘X-Ray food safety’ has become a term of interest due to the growing use of X-Ray machines for food inspection and quality control by processors. But exactly how safe is X-Ray inspection of food? Read on to find out.

    how safe is x ray inspection of food?
    How safe is x-ray inspection of food?

    Overview:

    What does the food industry use X-Ray for?

    Before discussing how safe is X-Ray inspection of food products, it’s worth noting that it has been around for a while. For the past decade, the food industry has been using X-Ray for inspection and food quality assurance to detect foreign bodies, such as:

    • Glass
    • Metal
    • Stone
    • Some plastics
    • Bone
    • Produce clumps

    Eagle PI, founded in 1998, is the industry leader in food inspection equipment using X Ray, and launched machines that make use of their new dual energy Material Discrimination X-ray (MDX) technology. More on this below.

    How does X Ray food safety work?

    As X-Rays enter food, it loses some of its electromagnetic energy. If it encounters something dense, such as stone or metal, the X-Ray’s energy is further reduced. As the X-Ray leaves the food, the equipment’s sensor converts the data into a greyscale image of the food. 

    The denser the contaminant, the darker it will appear in the image. So with traditional X-Ray technology, the greater the contrast between the density of the contaminant and the density of the food, the easier the identification. With MDX on the other hand, dense foreign objects within dense products can be more easily detected.

    The image below shows the same stone and glass contaminants within bulk nuts as detected via X-Ray imaging vs MDX imaging.

    x-ray vs MDX imaging
    source: Eagle

    MDX technology works by measuring the ratio of two different sets of X-Ray energies that pass through a product, enabling organic and inorganic materials to be differentiated. This technology provides food processors with unprecedented contaminant detection capabilities.

    These product inspection machines can easily be incorporated into your production line. As product moves along the conveyor belt, it is fed into the machine, which automatically X-Rays and images the product, allowing for fast identification of contaminants in real time.  

    How safe is X-Ray inspection of food?

    So, exactly how safe is X-Ray inspection of food? The X-Ray dose used for inspection purposes is significantly lower than that for irradiation (exposure to gamma rays, X-Rays or electron beams to kill microorganisms). Extensive research has found that it does not affect the safety, quality or nutritional value of the food.

    Is X-Ray scan harmful for food?

    So, is an X-Ray scan harmful for food? In a nutshell, it depends on the strength of the X-Ray. In reality, there are no scenarios in which the average person would subject their food to X-Ray doses high enough to cause any harm. The three most common instances we could think of are below and none of them are deemed to be harmful.

    1. X-Ray used by product inspection machines (much less than 10 kGy)
    2. X-Ray used for irradiation purposes (approx. 10 kGy) 
    3. X-Ray used for security purposes (approx. 200 to 1000 times less than the amount received during a chest X-ray) 

    Feel free to pass this information onto customers or partners to allay any concerns surrounding the safety of X-Ray food inspection. If you’d like further details about the Eagle X-Ray machines we supply, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team on AUS 1800 882 549 or NZ 0800 100 003.

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