How Modern Tech in 2024 Is Preventing Foreign Matter from Ending Up in Our Food

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on January 12, 2024

Food recalls in the United States are not uncommon. Hundreds of food products have been recalled for contamination, undeclared ingredients, and foreign matter. While customers are still affected by recalls, technology has helped manufacturers encounter these situations less often. Many food producers and consumers are now benefiting from these advanced food industry technologies.

X-Ray Inspection Systems

Many decades ago, food manufacturers were trying to figure out how to detect stones in food products. They had a great solution when inspection systems with dual-energy X-rays or MDX technology were invented.

Humans are an excellent starting point for detecting foreign items. However, inspection systems can be even more helpful. These machines can detect even the slightest traces of foreign materials like metal and stone to prevent product recalls.

Quality Control Sensors

Both raw materials and finished products aren’t always fit for consumption. Abnormal discoloration and mold growth can be common in freshly grown produce. However, it’s easy for slight imperfections to be missed during human inspections. In many situations, quality control sensors can be helpful.

Sensors can be used to track the finish of products based on what they should be. You may choose moisture sensors to detect mold growth or color sensors to look for strange discoloration. Such sensors may prevent inedible food from making its way to consumers.

Packaging Innovation

It’s not just machines and sensors helping manufacturers deliver consistently high-quality food. We’re also seeing advancements in packaging. Vacuum packaging and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) are two of many options designed to help increase shelf life and maintain food quality.

Equipment Materials

Food processing equipment has advanced in leaps and bounds. However, it’s not just standard functionality that has been improving. The materials have been, too. Equipment manufacturers now incorporate several features to reduce the risk of contamination from foreign matter. Sanitary construction combined with easy-to-clean surfaces can often be a recipe for success.

Stainless steel, in particular, tends to be a favorite. This material is corrosion-resistant, heat-resistant, and has biological cleanability. Aluminum can be just as popular. It’s often more affordable than stainless steel, corrosion-resistant, and stronger in terms of the weight ratio.

However, it’s less popular in environments where it needs to have direct contact with food. This is because it can react to food colors and flavors. The FDA has also approved acetal resin for food applications. This material is an engineered thermoplastic for high wear-and-tear environments.

Barcodes

Barcodes on food products have been around since the 1970s. While some manufacturers were hesitant to adopt barcodes, they now enjoy many advantages. Barcodes are helpful for maintaining compliance, enjoying logistical efficiency, and boosting product integrity.

When manufacturers encounter foreign objects, they can use barcodes and batch numbers to identify them. They can then recall specific batches. This can be much more cost-effective, less wasteful, and faster than recalling all food.

Food recalls are still commonplace, but new tech has undoubtedly made a difference. The more refined our screening processes become, the less likely it might be for consumers to find foreign matter in their grocery goods.

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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