How good is your food metal detector?

The food metal detector can be an integral part of a food business’s hazard minimisation program. But have you ever thought, how good is my metal detector? From my experience I think that there is a false sense of security placed in this piece of equipment to be the ‘be-all and end-all’ in preventing metal contamination. Week 25 of the HACCP Mentor Food Safety HACCP Challenge encourages you to get to know and understand your food metal detector better.

Food metal detector tolerances

All measuring equipment can have restrictions on accuracy and food metal detectors are no different. The brand and type of food metal detector that you use within your food business will form the basis of detecting metal contamination within your food product.

Some of the variances that may exist within different food metal detectors include:

  • The type of metal that the food metal detector will detect
  • The size of the metal that can be detected.
  • The type, composition and density of the food being passed through the food metal detector.

The Challenge

This #FSHChallenge is about challenging your current knowledge and assumptions when it comes to the food metal detector used within your food business.

Step 1: Find out the type of food metal detector currently in use.

Step 2: Find out the capability of the food metal detector currently in use. Research and answer the following questions:

  • What is the minimum size our food metal detector will detect?
  • What type of metal can be detected? Ferrous, Non-ferrous, Stainless Steel?
  • What food characteristics can be used with the type of metal detector that we have? This may include the density, temperature, size and packaging of the food to be tested.

Step 3: Based on the answers from your research in step 2, it is now time to assess compliance with what you are doing to what the food metal detectors capability is.

Step 4: Check the metal detector test pieces that you use to verify your food metal detector are of the correct size and metal type.

Step 5: If you have metal detection as a CCP in your HACCP Audit table, check that the sizes and metal types listed as your critical limits align with the size and metal type of your test pieces and the machine capability.

Additional verification

I always like to further challenge the capability of the food metal detectors in use by my clients. An additional check that you may like to complete involves inserting different types of metal into the finished product and the passing through it the metal detector.  I collect different items from maintenance area and items that are permitted within the food production area to use in my testing.

Detection is not a substitution for prevention

As the saying goes, prevention is better than the cure and this is no different for metal contamination. There are numerous control measures that you can implement within your food business to reduce and eliminate that potential for metal contamination in your raw materials, work-in-progress and finished product. These include eliminating all loose metal items within the food production areas, controlling all maintenance activities and ensure through clean up procedures are in place after any work is completed.

Food metal detector validation

All of the research that you collected and answers that you provided as part of this Food Safety HACCP Challenge can be used as theoretical validation for your metal detector. This information is required as part of certification to any of the GFSI accredited standards.  So, how did you go with this #FSHChallenge? Please leave a comment below to let me know how you went.


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