How to improve food safety with metal detectors

25 June 2024

How to improve food safety with metal detectors

Learn how to improve food safety and optimize inspection processes with Nemesis metal detectors

Food safety is a crucial issue at every stage of the production chain - from raw material collection to distribution and final consumption - and includes a set of practices, regulations and technologies that aim to prevent food contamination, protecting consumer health and maintaining high quality standards. 
Current food safety regulations and increasing consumer awareness of the risks associated with contaminated food have prompted food companies to implement increasingly stringent and advanced quality control and inspection systems.

Among the various inspection systems, metal detectors play a fundamental role. These machines are indispensable to identify and remove metal particles that could accidentally contaminate products during production, thus ensuring that each step of the process complies with precise safety standards. The use of metal detectors for food not only ensures that products are safe for consumption, but also helps to maintain the quality standards required by international regulations. 

Let’s take a closer look at what food safety is, why it is important and how to improve quality control and inspection processes with the use of metal detectors.

What is food safety?

As we have seen, food safety refers to all the practices, regulations and controls adopted to ensure that food is safe for human consumption, free of contaminants and meeting certain quality standards This concept implies the prevention of biological hazards (for example pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites), chemical (pesticide residues, non-compliant food additives and environmental contaminants) and physical (such as the presence of fragments of glass, metal or plastic) that could damage the health of consumers. 

Food security involves all stages of the food supply chain, from agricultural production to the processing, distribution, storage and preparation of food. Each step must be carefully monitored and controlled to prevent contamination. On a global level, there are strict regulations and guidelines, such as those established by the Codex Alimentarius (an organization founded in 1963 by FAO and the World Health Organization)which define the food safety requirements to be met by all parties involved in food production. Companies must also implement food safety management systems, such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), which help identify and control potential risks.

But why is food safety so important? Food safety is crucial not only to protect health, but also to maintain consumer confidence in food products and the brands that produce them. A single incident of contamination can have significant negative consequences, causing product recalls and damage to a company’s reputation. 

Metal detection in the food industry

In addition to strict hygiene practices and quality controls, product inspection using food metal detectors is an essential step in modern food production processes. Metal detectors can detect the presence of ferrous, non-ferrous metal contaminating particles (such as aluminum) and stainless steel inside food products and are indispensable at all those stages of production where regulations require strict quality control, in order to ensure the safety of the final consumer.

Metal detection in the food industry meets the requirements of the most stringent food safety standards, such as those required by the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), IFS (International Featured Standards) and BRC (British Retail Consortium) certifications. These standards require that any possible risk of physical contamination is identified and managed through specific control procedures. Metal detectors fit perfectly into this context, allowing companies to quickly identify and remove metal contaminants from their products.

Metal detectors operate by creating a magnetic field around the product passing through the device. When a metal particle passes through this field, it causes a distortion that is detected by the system, triggering an alarm and allowing the immediate removal of the contaminated product from the production line. This process not only ensures that the finished products are safe for consumption, but also contributes to maintaining high quality standards, reducing the risk of product recalls and the resulting economic losses and damage to the company. 

Metal detector or x-ray inspection system: which to use?

When it comes to food safety, both metal detectors and X-ray inspection systems offer effective solutions to detect contaminants, but they differ significantly in functionality, sensitivity and ideal applications. As we have seen, in fact, metal detectors are devices specialized in detecting ferrous, non-ferrous and stainless steel metals. Their effectiveness may vary depending on the size and composition of the products to be analyzed. For example, it is more difficult for a metal detector to analyze large, heavy or complex products in terms of composition. In addition, the sensitivity of the machines is also influenced by factors such as moisture, the acidity of the products and the presence of aluminized packaging


X-ray inspection systems for food, by contrast, offer a wider detection capability, capable of detecting not only metals, but also glass, bones, stones, ceramics and dense plastics. These systems work by emitting X-rays through the product, creating an image that highlights the presence of contaminants. The sensitivity of X-rays is not affected by the product’s composition or packaging, making them ideal for inspecting metal foil or aluminum foil packaging. In addition, X-ray systems can detect very small contaminants, offering greater safety in terms of the variety of detectable materials.

The choice between metal detectors and x-ray inspection systems depends on the specific needs of the food company and the type of product to be inspected. Metal detectors generally have a lower cost and are sufficient for applications where metallic contaminants represent the only significant risk. They are perfect for products such as bread, rice cakes and other dry, homogeneous foods, where the presence of non-metallic contaminants is unlikely. By contrast, X-ray systems are more expensive but offer a wide range of detection and are therefore the best choice for complex products or products at risk of contamination by materials other than metals and for food packaged with metallic materials.

Nemesis food metal detectors: advanced solutions for the food industry

Nemesis industrial metal detectors are a state-of-the-art solution for food companies, offering a combination of precision, efficiency and flexibility that makes them ideal for maximum product safety and quality. These devices are available both as independent machines, without weight control, and integrated on checkweighers, allowing to obtain multiple functions from a single machine.


Independent metal detectors are equipped with an outgoing conveyor belt with a dedicated ejector to discard non-compliant products. This configuration is particularly useful for production lines where the detection of contaminating metal particles is required without the need for weight monitoring. The integrated metal detectors on the checkweighers instead offer a double functionality: detection of metal contaminants and weight control. In this case the metal detector is installed on the inlet belt and two separate ejectors are provided: one for products contaminated with metal and another for those not conforming in weight. The separate collection system complies with the regulations prohibiting the possibility of mixing contaminated products with simply non-compliant ones, ensuring safe management and in line with legal obligations.

One of the distinguishing features of Nemesis metal detectors is their high sensitivity, which allows you to detect contaminant particles of a minimum size, even a few millimeters in diameter. This precision is crucial to increase the level of safety of food products placed on the market, protecting consumers from potential risks and significantly reducing possible product recalls. The integration of Nemesis metal detectors in the production lines makes it possible to detect and discard foreign bodies already during the packaging phase, preventing product quality complaints at source, and ensuring that every product leaving the production line is safe and complies with the most stringent quality standards


For more information on Nemesis metal detectors or other end-of-line inspection and control systems, contact us

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