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 Deep stimulation improves cognitive control by augmenting brain rhythms
04.04.2019 | Picower Institute at MIT

nachricht Black nanoparticles slow the growth of tumors
04.04.2019 | Technische Universität München

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: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>