Frequently Asked Questions

Use of X-Ray Inspection in the Food Industry

1Why are X-ray systems used for contaminant detection in food?

Any contamination of food with impurities of any kind may have most serious consequences for a company, because under the product liability law every food producer is liable for contaminations of his products in case a consumer should be harmed by such contaminations. Systems for contaminant inspection are used to prevent such problems.
Metal detectors are most useful for the detection of magnetic and non-magnetic metals, but they reach their limits for example in the inspection of aluminium-coated packing materials.Contaminations with glass, ceramics, stones, and similar materials also constitute a serious problem.
X-ray detection systems for food are therefore used for such applications. And apart from contaminations, other product defects such as missing product components also can be detected.

2What types of contaminants can be detected in food by X-ray systems? Application examples and technical limits.

Basically X-ray systems can detect any contaminants whose density essentially differs from the density of the product to be inspected. Usually this applies to metals such as steel and stainless steel, but also to glass, sandstone, quartz, shale, and many others. Another special feature of X-ray systems is that apart from contaminations they also are able to detect other product defects. Missing products in packings, unwanted air bubbles, overweight or underweight, broken products, shape deviations, and even incorrect positions of individual components can be detected to some extent. This not only guarantees product purity, but also further improves the quality of the end product.

Application examples for Wide Mobility systems:

  • Confectionery and cereals industry
  • Dairy products
  • Canning industry
  • Bakery products
  • Baby food

However, depending on the density of the material X-ray technology may or may not able be to detect all types of contaminants. For example, it is not possible to detect thin foils, small insects or molluscs, hair, wood, fibres, textiles, and thin plastics consisting only of hydrocarbons (PP, PA, PC, etc.).

3Are X-rays dangerous for food products or for operators?

X-rays are classified as ionising radiation, which in case of improper use may be dangerous for persons and for their surroundings. The risk potential, however, depends on the dosage of radiation. Since the production and processing of food of course is a highly sensitive field, the European Union has passed a specific directive 1999/2+3EC concerning the use of ionising radiation inspection systems on food items to guarantee 100 % safety of the inspected products:
"Food may be inspected with X-rays if the absorbed dose [...] with a maximum radiation energy of 10 MeV does not exceed 0.5 Gy."

Such high energy levels are used for food sterilization. However very low energy levels are used for food inspections.

Wide Mobility X-ray systems have been designed to operate far below these permitted statutory limits. For comparison:
The maximum permissible X-ray voltage for the inspection of food is 10 MeV (mega electron volt)=10,000 keV (kilo electron volt)
Wide Mobility systems operate at 80Kev to 160KeV depending on the application and density of the materials.
With additional safety aspects we furthermore guarantee the absolutely safe use of our X-ray systems in the inspection of products in the food sector:
- We only use low-energy X-rays
- X-ray voltage and current are individually adapted for every product
- The X-ray tube is hermetically shielded
- All the radiation protection covers are monitored by safety switches
- X-rays can only be turned on if the system functions perfectly

For operators of X-ray systems it furthermore is important that the effective dose of 20 mSv/yr averaged over five consecutive years.
Wide Mobility systems adheres AERB regulatory norms.
The operation of Wide Mobility systems therefore is absolutely safe.