How Safe Is X-Ray Inspection Of Food?
X-ray inspection for food is completely safe for detecting foreign objects and contaminants in food products. It uses low-dose X-rays to create images of the food, which are then analyzed by a computer to detect any abnormalities. This method is non-destructive and does not alter the food in any way.
The two factors that must be assessed when determining the danger of any radiation are quantity and ionization. First let’s establish some terms.
Radiation is any energy from atoms. This includes radio waves, visible light, etc.
Ionization happens when the energy of the wave/light is greater than the atom it strikes by a wide enough margin. When the wave’s energy is high enough above the energy of the atom it strikes, it can knock off electrons from said atom.
X-rays are light waves with enough intensity to knock electrons off of atoms.
Why X-Rays are dangerous for humans
Because many compounds and atoms in our bodies are relatively sensitive, x-rays are ionizing to most compounds in our bodies. This is why you wouldn’t want to get too many x-rays at the doctor, or go through the TSA’s body scanner too often. (You have the right to opt out of the body-scanner at airports simply by telling them you opt-out as you place your bags.)
X-Rays are Perfectly safe for food
Food is less Affected by x-rays than we are
Because some compounds in food are more resilient than those in our bodies, they are less affected by x-rays.
The quantity of x-rays is minimal
When most people think of x-rays, they think of lead vests and a technician standing behind a shield. But the quantity of x-rays used to inspect food are not remotely comparable to the quantity used to inspect our bodies. For perspective, the FDA’s maximum allowed dose for people working around radiation are 5 or 50 rem per year depending on the industry. X-ray operators in the food industry who stand by the machine ports all day are expected to receive 1-3 millirem per year, or 1/50,000th to 3/5,000th of those levels.
X-rays do not “linger” in food
Again, x-rays are light. Unlike radioactive materials, x-rays cease when their source is no longer present. So food is not made radioactive by being X-rayed.
Find Physical Contaminants In Your Product?
Does x-ray affect the flavor of food?
X-ray inspection of food can’t affect the flavor of the food. X-ray inspection uses electromagnetic waves to penetrate the food and create an image of its internal structure. The intensity of the X-rays used is not high enough to cause any significant changes to the chemical composition or taste of the food.
What kind of products can you inspect with x-ray?
Virtually any product in any type of packaging is inspectable with x-ray to very tight specifications, including glass, metal, and mylar bags.
X-ray inspection finds more than just metal. It’s incredibly safe and can find multiple contaminants as well as perform other quality checks such as package integrity, weight, and item count if needed. X-ray also performs better than metal detector in most applications and is not thrown off by frozen or thawing foods.
Can food still be organic if it's been x-rayed?
Yes. X-raying food cannot harm the food or alter it’s makeup in any known way.
Which X-Ray Systems Do You Use?
We use Eagle PI’s systems, and we are their principal distributor. And this is not by chance. Originally called Smiths Detection, Eagle was the first well-known company to develop x-ray for food, they were the first to use x-ray for metrics like product weight, fat analysis, and item count, and the first to use multi-layer imaging to distinguish contaminants in “messy” images (called MDX). And now, again in partnership with ABM, Eagle was the first to develop the PXT solution, which is currently the highest-performing on the market. Other manufacturers have begun to follow suit but have not yet solidified the methodology.