Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Food inspection technology could kill waiter jokes

30.06.2008
New inspection X-ray technology developed by European researchers is helping to ensure that the only thing in people’s dinners is the food itself.

Finding a snail in a salad, a fish bone in a supposedly boneless fillet or opening a soup packet to reveal mouldy contents is an unpleasant – and potentially unsafe – experience. Small foreign bodies and packaging defects are frequently not detected by food producers, but a new X-ray inspection technology developed by European researchers is ensuring that the only thing in people’s dinners is the food itself.

For consumers, a more effective method of inspecting food products before they reach supermarket shelves means better-preserved and cleaner food on their dinner tables – and a reduction in the risk of food poisoning.

An improved inspection system also means producers can offer better quality produce, reduce the risk of spoilage, and gain a competitive edge over rivals.

Already in use commercially, the technology developed by the Modulinspex project uses low-energy X-rays to produce highly detailed images of food products and packaged goods. The images are then scanned via inspection software that can automatically detect any irregularities accurately and quickly.

The system can be used to check seals on food wrappers, locate packaging defects and find foreign particles of any size in any kind of food, from maggots in apples to grains of sand in bread.

Even in an era of high food standards and sterilised packaged produce, those problematic foreign bodies and packaging flaws are more common than most people realise, says Jørgen Rheinlænder, the managing director of Denmark-based InnospeXion, which helped develop the technology. Rheinlænder was the project coordinator for Modulinspex.

“Go down to your supermarket and pick up a package of dried pasta,” he says. “About one in ten will have pieces of pasta trapped in the seal that can let air and moisture in and spoil the product.”

Rheinlænder notes, for example, that some bacteria may spread on poorly sealed produce and go unnoticed by consumers until they end up spending the next day on the toilet or at the hospital.

Lower energy, higher definition
Until now X-ray inspection technology used by food processors was dominated by high-energy intensity systems not unlike those used to scan luggage at airports. These are able to detect a pebble in a package of corn but lack the resolution to pick out a grain of sand in a bag of flour.

The higher-resolution alternative, low-energy X-rays, had not been used because it took too long to scan the produce and would slow the rapid pace of production in modern processing and packaging plants.

The European researchers working in the EU-funded Modulinspex project have brought both greater speed and accuracy to the table.

By attaching a CMOS chip to the crystal that detects the X-rays in a low-energy system they have been able to build a detector capable of taking 300 images per second, enough to capture a crisp image of products moving on a conveyor belt at half-a-metre per second.

The X-ray images have a resolution of 0.1 millimetres – 16 times better than existing high-power systems, making it possible to detect objects as small and fine as a herring bone.

Modularity for easy adoption
The system is also modular, allowing hardware and software components to be adapted to suit the needs of any producer in the food industry.

“Most X-ray luggage scanners at airports are virtually identical because one type works anywhere,” Rheinlænder explains. “In the food industry, however, everyone has different requirements depending on the speed of the production line, the type and size of products being scanned and hygiene regulations.”

The consortium of companies involved in the project has already sold three of their systems to companies in Spain, the United Kingdom and Denmark. The systems were bought after the project partners held a demonstration at the Scandinavian Food-PharmaTech exhibition last November in Denmark.

The Modulinspex system, known as MCIS, also received the exhibition’s award for innovation.

Enormous market beyond food
Curiously, none of the three systems that were sold are being used in the food sector, confirming, in Rheinlænder’s view, the broader range of applications for the technology.

In the UK, for example, the system is being used by a company to inspect filters delivered by an outside supplier, while in Denmark it is being used to check the quality of fur used to make coats.

“The market for this technology is truly enormous,” he says. “In the food industry alone we can expect growth rates in excess of 20%… and we also see a market for using it in manufacturing, to inspect seals on car components, for example, or to check for counterfeit products.”

Meanwhile, Rheinlænder foresees demand in the food sector being driven not only by producers who want to offer better quality products but also by increasingly stringent food safety regulations in Europe and elsewhere.

Modulinspex received funding from the EU's Sixth Framework Programme for research.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/89823

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications

nachricht Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>