Making sure ‘it’s (not) in the bag’

After gaining a new contract for baby food, a contract-packing organisation wanted to upgrade its metal detection to ensure product was free of any accidental metal pieces. With some specific needs, they turned to Matthews.


Consumer safety is always paramount with food products, and particularly when those products are for infants.

Having supplied a well-known brand for many years, a not-for-profit (NFP) contract-packing organisation won additional contracts to pack baby food into foil bags. Contract specifications stipulated the highest possible level of inspection, for both consumer (baby) safety and the brand’s reputation, so upgrading its metal detection to ensure product was free of any accidental metal pieces was top of the list.

Business and process needs

 The NFP’s overall primary business need was that the inspection solution was very easy to operate.

Secondary needs included that it integrated into the business’s current production lines, and had easy moveability between different conveyor belts running different products. This would enable greater current and future flexibility, allowing the business to take on more work that needed to be inspected for metals.

 The inspection solution also needed to be very simple to learn, set up and run, and reliably detect the smallest possible metal pieces.

Metal detector X-ray?

 Generally, a metal detector is the most common first choice for finding metal contaminants, and this was initially the NFP organisation’s preferred option because these detectors are known for being easy to use, reliable and cost effective.

Having built a strong relationship, the NFP packer sought and took Matthews’ advice that a metal detector would not provide a strong-enough level of protection because the baby-food packs use a metal-foil film, which inhibits a metal detector’s inspection capability.

As part of their research, the packer tested product with an X-ray at Matthews’ facilities, with excellent results. They subsequently installed an X-ray unit from Matthews, being confident of the technology’s accuracy, reliability and operator ease of use.

Peace of mind

Because the X-ray is easy to use, many different staff can operate it. The packer can cost-effectively check every single pack on its production line for pieces of metal of varying sizes — from nuts or bolts (from machinery) right down to the smallest possible metal contaminants.

The solution’s mobility, high reliability and accuracy mean staff can easily set up the unit for new products, knowing it meets the specifications. This has allowed the contract packer to use the X-ray machine not only on the initial new product, but a second new baby-food SKU as well.

The X-ray unit’s capability of detecting glass, stone and bone contaminants (items which a metal detector cannot) has proven an added bonus.

As well as its simple operation, the unit’s straightforward maintenance has contributed to the contract packer’s satisfaction with the solution.


You will find more information here on X-ray and metal detection solutions.


Thinking of investing in inspection equipment for the first time? Or need to upgrade? this ultimate guide to automated product inspection will explain why you need inspection technology, what can be inspected, inspection standards you need to know, different types of inspection technology and how to get the best ROI. It’s free to download.