Foreign bodies entering the food processing chain and passing undetected through to consumers is clearly a major concern for the food industry. Examples of foreign bodies include metal, wood, ceramic, glass, rubbers and plastics and, due to the varying nature of these, often different detection techniques are necessary to target each. One of the most difficult categories to detect is rubbers and plastics (grouped together as polymers) due mainly to their comparative low density (similar to many foods) and non-conductive/non-magnetic nature. Polymers are used extensively throughout food production lines and hence being able to detect foreign body fragments of them is an important consideration.
Early revisions of ‘detectable’ polymers relied purely on visual detection to prevent foreign body contamination. Polymer products were (and commonly still are) coloured blue to render them easier to detect on a food line due to the lack of naturally occurring blue in food products.
More recent enhancements lead to the introduction of metal detectable polymers, detectable by conventional metal detection systems. This remains probably the most common format of detectable polymer.
Moving on from metal detection systems, X-ray detectors are becoming increasingly popular in the food industry. Compared to metal detection systems, they have the advantage that they primarily rely upon density differences to food products and hence are able to detect a range of additional foreign bodies such as glass, ceramic, bone etc. It is possible to significantly enhance the X-ray detectability of conventional polymers and hence utilise this technique to allow successful detection also of polymer foreign bodies.
Scopic can assist with HACCP procedures by helping to meet all detectability needs with compounds and masterbatches across a wide range of polymers. These compounds and masterbatches are compatible with common processing techniques such as injection moulding and extrusion, as well as common rubber/silicone methods.
Supported by a range of twin-screw extruders, z-blade mixers and injection moulding machines, all manufacturing demands can be supported in-house, from product development through the full production of polymer compound/masterbatch.
All manufacturing capabilities are backed-up by a fully equipped test lab, possessing facilities to characterise mechanical, physical and detectability properties of compounds and end-products.